Balancing the Risks: Choosing Climate Alternatives
IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, Vol. 8, 2009
17 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2010
Date Written: December 2009
Very aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed over the next ten years to avoid a “planet on fire.” Current sub-national, national and international policy assumes that carbon sequestration, biofuels, nuclear power, ocean fertilization, atmospheric aerosols, and other such technologies, which heretofore have been considered too novel or too dangerous to use, will have to be deployed at large scale, globally. Moving forward with promising technologies that might preserve us from the consequences of global warming will be difficult because they also pose potential hazards, promise uncertain benefits, and in some cases are already burdened with restrictive legislation and poor public image. The lack of a rational process of risk assessment and public decision making is likely to lead to a poor longterm outcome. Moreover, the standard administrative and political processes used to assess such risks can take years, time that we do not have. Principled and practical policymaking demand citizens participate in the decision to develop and use these novel technologies. Environmental assessment, horizon scanning, and new research on human and organizational factors suggest techniques to improve technology development decisions.
Keywords: climate change, technology, risk
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