Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Clear and Present Danger

Does the expected utility model explain why some individuals choose to not evacuate an at risk area as a natural disaster approaches?  A silver lining of Hurricane Sandy is that its salience guarantees that future storms will cause fewer deaths because more people will obey future evacuation orders.  This is one margin of adaptation. The "small ball" of adaptation will involve dozens of steps that together will allow cities to continue to thrive in the face of increased natural disaster risk.

Many people believe that we are "doomed" because of climate change.  I reject this pessimism.  Self interested people and firms who anticipate a threat have strong incentives to protect themselves through a broad set of strategies. Of course carbon pricing is the first best strategy but that ain't going to happen at the national or international level.

I just received this email that suggests that literature may help us to adapt to climate change.  This claim may be true.   Curious about what in the heck is the basis for her claim, I found this podcast of hers.  I have not listened to it.


A Talk by Kate Rigby

Professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies
Monash University, Melbourne

Thursday, November 15, 5–6:30pm

UCLA Humanities Building 193

Most research in humanistic environmental studies, including ecocriticism, has so far focussed on the role of social and cultural factors in generating and potentially countering ecosocial ills. This has been a broadly utopian project, inspired by the hope that crisis could be prevented from sliding into catastrophe, and bent instead towards ecosocial transformation. Today, as we are faced with the necessity of learning to live with a range of highly disruptive and only partially predictable climate change impacts, including the escalation of extreme weather events, literature may become a crucial tool in furthering disaster-preparedness.