Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2017

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Symposium: Global Catastrophic Risk Assessment, Policy and Communication

Room: Salon D   3:30 pm–5:00 pm

Chair(s): Seth Baum

Sponsored by Risk Policy and Law Specialty Group

Global catastrophic risk (GCR) is the risk of events large enough to significantly harm or even destroy human civilization at the global scale. This symposium will feature presentations on policy aspects of GCR and related extreme risks. Topics include research agendas for informing policy decision making, the U.S. government’s preparedness for GCR, population responses to extreme catastrophes, and risk communication.

M4-D.1  3:30 pm  Towards Integrated, Comprehensive Assessment of Global Catastrophic Risks to Inform Risk Reduction. Barrett AM*; GCR Institute and ABS Consulting

Abstract: We argue that there could be great value in comprehensive, integrated assessment of global catastrophic risks (GCRs) and risk-reduction options. We also argue for using value-of-information considerations to guide decisions on where to focus research efforts as part of a GCR research agenda; the value of information derives from its ability to help decision makers to achieve better decision outcomes. We discuss key challenges, and tractable steps, for assessing all types of GCRs and risk-reduction options. For example, a risk reduction cost effectiveness based approach to assessing value of information simplifies some problems in GCR comparison, by avoiding the need for use of a value of statistical life (VSL), which may be inappropriate given the scale of GCRs. Similar approaches could be useful in other areas where VSLs would not be appropriate. Finally, we illustrate the basic concepts using example calculations of risks from several types of GCRs, and associated risk reduction measures.

M4-D.2  3:50 pm  Barriers to Proactive Population Relocation in Preparation for Coastal Flooding. Bier VM*; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Abstract: Coastal flooding due to climate change may affect more than 10 million people in the U.S., and well over 100 million worldwide, creating a need for mass relocation and/or migration away from at-risk areas. Arguably, it would be preferable to gradually reduce the population living in vulnerable areas before they experience severe flooding (to reduce loss of personal property, disruption, and the cost of emergency response), but there seem to be numerous barriers impeding that goal. First, there are at least two different types of collective-action problems: collective action between jurisdictions; and collective action between current and future residents. There are also competing factors that may make moving inland undesirable, including not only coastal amenities, but also the economic benefits of agglomeration. The long time horizons involved in preparing for coastal flooding make investment in preparedness almost inherently a government problem (due to its relatively low social discount rate), but the wide range of federal, state, and local agencies involved may make it difficult for government to act effectively. Finally, psychic numbing may limit public support for measures that do not reduce the at-risk population by at least an order of magnitude or more.

M4-D.3  4:10 pm  Evaluating the Preparedness of the U.S. Emergency Management System for Managing Global Catastrophic Risk . Brown JT*; Congressional Research Service

Abstract: Within the United States, there is a relatively robust emergency management system that manages the risk of “typical” natural and manmade disasters. To evaluate the nation’s preparedness for global catastrophes, the first step is to begin with an assessment of whether the existing emergency management system can manage more extreme global catastrophic risk. This presentation frames an assessment of whether the nation can “scale up” its emergency management system through the lens of three typical emergency management categories: authorities, capabilities, and capacities. The assessment suggests that with some revision, broad emergency management authorities, especially the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act, P.L. 100-707, et seq.), the National Emergencies Act (NEA, P.L. 94-412, et seq.), and the Defense Production Act (DPA, P.L. 81–774, et seq.), may be sufficient to address a more extreme subset of global catastrophic risk. However, the current system lacks both key capabilities and the enormous capacities necessary to manage global catastrophic risk. The presentation concludes with suggested priorities for improving the existing system to scale up its ability to manage global catastrophic risk. DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are those of the presenter only and are not presented as those of the Congressional Research Service or the Library of Congress.

M4-D.4  4:30 pm  Communicating Risk Assessments for Policymaking. Ritterson R*; Gryphon Scientific, LLC

Abstract: Communicating the results of risk assessments requires care and consideration of the audience, and risk assessment for policymaking is no exception. For example, the statutes from which oversight and policymaking authority is granted often require tailoring the results of risk assessments to specific policy questions, or a focus on specific risks, to ensure actionable polices can be developed from an assessment. How the results are conveyed is also key, as for example, the comparison of the risk of everyday activities to increased risks of cancer due to radiological threats may inadvertently cause the audience to focus on the perceived danger of the everyday activity, instead of the risk of the threat. Drawing from Gryphon Scientific’s more than a decade of experience conducting risk assessments for policymaking in areas such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense, pandemic preparedness, emerging technologies, and other global catastrophic risks, we’ll present stories of lessons learned from conducting risk assessments for policymaking.

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