Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New book: Worst Case Scenarios, by Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein has a new book out called Worst Case Scenarios. In it, he discusses global warming as a theme, as well as considering the best reactions to terrorist threats, genetic modification of food, hurricanes and avian flu, among other issues. The author does often valuable work on risk issues as well as cost-benefit analysis, pro and con, and thoughtfully examines how to respond appropriately to dangers without becoming paranoid or paralyzed.

One aspect of climate change is that we will probably face more occurrences of low probability events with severe impacts. Learning how to respond to such confusing risks is a lesson we haven’t learned yet. Sunstein also raises important issues that bear close scrutiny about intergenerational equity (what does the present generation owe to its grandchildren?) and “climate justice” (how can the industrialized West rightly impose a low-carbon regime on developing countries and jeopardize their economic growth?)

The City Journal has a critical review, but this doesn’t deter me from wanting to take a look.

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