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Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes « Zeckhauser, Richard J. « Authors « Downloads
|Date posted||December 1, 2010|
|Categories||Zeckhauser, Richard J., Toman, Michael, Rostapshova, Olga, Kousky, Carolyn, Working paper, International regulation, Energy and environment, Benefit-cost analysis|
There is a low but uncertain probability that climate change could trigger “mega-catastrophes,” severe and at least partly irreversible adverse effects across broad regions. This paper first discusses the state of current knowledge and the defining characteristics of potential climate change mega-catastrophes. While some of these characteristics present difficulties for using standard rational choice methods to evaluate response options, there is still a need to balance the benefits and costs of different possible responses with appropriate attention to the uncertainties. To that end, we present a qualitative analysis of three options for mitigating the risk of climate mega-catastrophes—drastic abatement of greenhouse gas emissions, development and implementation of geoengineering, and large-scale ex ante adaptation—against the criteria of efficacy, cost, robustness, and flexibility. We discuss the composition of a sound portfolio of initial investments in reducing the risk of climate change mega-catastrophes.