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Global-warming Study Applies Defense Risk-Management Approach

Photo: opencongress.org

A study on global warming, released this week by nonprofit organization E3G, recommended governments take a risk-management approach in the same way they approach defense-related issues.

“Degrees of Risk: Defining a Risk Management Framework for Climate Security” concluded a less partisan, more scientific and analytical approach than current methods is more effective in combating global warming. The report doesn’t attempt to answer whether global warming is actually occurring, but takes the opinion that discussions should be logical, rather than political.

“The risk-management approach makes sense even if you have questions about the effects of climate change,” said E3G Chief Executive Nick Mabey. “You don’t buy fire insurance because you know your house will burn down. You buy it because you don’t know it won’t.”

A risk-management approach accounts for all known and unknown variables, analyzes threats and vulnerabilities and decides acceptable risk levels. Once those levels are reached, risk management applies practices designed to keep those risks at an acceptable level.

The defense establishment has long used the risk-management approach. The study suggests adopting the military’s methodology.

“The national security community and the military are experts at risk management,” Mabey said. “We should take a page from their book when it comes to climate change. Risk management could offer a common-sense way for leaders across the political spectrum to tackle climate and energy policy.”

Degrees of Risk suggested three starting policies. Countries should pledge to implement policies that keep temperatures from warming above 3.6 F, build and budget assuming 5.4-7.2 F of warming, and make contingency plans for 9-12.6 F of warming.

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