The human tendency to impose a single interpretation in ambiguous situations carries huge dangers in addressing COVID-19. We need to search actively for multiple interpretations, and governments need to choose policies that are robust if their preferred theory turns out to be wrong, argues Nick Chater.
Narratives of change are ambiguous; they can be narratives of risk (the technoscientific version of danger) or they can be narratives of adaptation (contributing to increase agency enhancing capacities).
One common insight across the special issue relates to the multiple dimensions of change, danger and risk, implying that reductive definitions alone are often insufficient to describe and explain current political and governance processes. Complex accounts of change must help understand the many-faceted phenomenon of climate change, which will be crucial in thinking about how to meet and limit future impacts, how to envisage a future sustainable society, and how to deploy inclusive, diverse and democratic trans-disciplinary science.
In October 2018, Ron Dembo was driving through an area of burned forest in Northern California.
The CEO and founder of Toronto-based Riskthinking.ai, Dembo had been invited to give a keynote speech at the conference of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), one of the world’s largest electricity distributors. Dembo had previously built Algorithmics Inc., which became the world’s largest enterprise risk management software provider. He was headed to the conference to discuss a new kind of “risk thinking” that he believes could supplant existing forecasting strategies.
“Every decision we make today affects our future,” Dembo says. “Yet, whether we are a corporation or an individual, our decision-making today is primarily guided by our attempts to forecast our future. Traditional forecasting doesn’t work well, because past data is of minor use in our fast-changing climate reality. Nearly every commercial and non-commercial sector—from finance, insurance, energy and transportation to local and federal municipalities—is affected.”
New climate models show carbon dioxide is a more potent greenhouse gas than previously understood, a finding that could push the Paris treaty goals for capping global warming out of reach, scientists have told AFP.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says expanding public and active transit, reducing waste and limiting urban sprawl are all priorities for the next decade. Riskthinking.ai’s scenarios and analytical tools help decision-makers apply this lens by accurately pricing the true costs of climate change.
We need to start taxing emissions and incentivizing green technologies. Fossil fuel firms should pay for their negative environmental externalities. This could usher in a new and fairer economic paradigm.
Earth’s climatic future is uncertain, but the world needs to prepare for change. Riskthinking.ai’s forward-looking scenarios are designed to help decision-makers better understand climate-related risks, and make better decisions in the face of radical uncertainty.