We remain blind to existential risks embedded in our daily lives and in our broader society. Why is that?
There is no insurance policy that will protect us against catastrophic climate change. We cannot get our habitable climate back on any time scale that matters to humans once it’s gone. The insurance policy is us, that is, changes in our behavior and our technology done quickly enough to matter. There is no other hedge that will help us.
The modern seems unaware of what I’ve called the chief intellectual challenge of our age, namely, that we live in complex systems, but we don’t understand complexity.
A few stories from a single issue of the Financial Times show how little things have changed, and how few lessons have been learned, since the 2008 financial crisis.
It is a staple of apologists for the chemical and fossil fuel industries to say, "We have no proof that what you are talking about is dangerous." Let me restate that in probabilistic terms: "We are highly uncertain about the harm of what you are talking about."
It is well to remember that none of people making forecasts can know the one thing they all desperately want to know: the future.
Perhaps the most important energy story on the planet right now is the precarious situation for fuel rods stored in a damaged building at the Fukushima nuclear power station. However, there is another story beyond the immediate danger that tells us something about how we think about risk.