With climate change already generating storms, heat waves, and droughts beyond historical norms, local governments need to do more to prepare. A decisionmaking framework developed by RAND allows communities to stress-test ideas, weigh the trade-offs, and plan for a range of possible futures.
Water professionals can think about building resilience as a process of embracing and managing future uncertainty. Rather than trying to predict which problem to plan for, researchers help planners consider a wide range of potential scenarios.
Society for Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty
It is difficult to determine what actions balance society's goals where there is deep uncertainty about the consequences. The decisionmaking under uncertainty methodology provides tools to acknowledge uncertainty, avoid overconfidence, promote deliberation, and help craft consensus on sensible approaches to climate change.
Policymakers generally agree on the need to rebuild America's infrastructure. But the country is far behind in this area. Why? Transportation projects take time and money. And it's hard to predict how a project will affect its surroundings.
The framework for the Paris negotiations is in sync with what science tells us about how to make effective public policy decisions. This alone makes them historic and may provide a model for both local and global action on more than climate alone.
Water resource agencies around the world are grappling with how to make smart investments to ensure long-term water reliability at a time of unprecedented water stress, growing demands, uncertain climate change, and limited budgets.
Policymakers know that the risks associated with climate change mean they need to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. But uncertainty surrounding the likelihood of different scenarios makes choosing specific policies difficult.
Defense Department approaches to risk management could be improved if they focused on complex strategic judgments — questions on which information is imperfect, dozens of variables interact in nonlinear ways, and human choice and agency generate unpredictable patterns.
RAND's Emerging Policy Research and Methods Program has signed a memorandum of understanding with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's High Performance Computing Innovation Center to explore how high-performance computing could enable near-real-time policy and decision analysis through the use of complex, at-scale models.
Changing how we make development decisions requires a cultural shift as much as it requires an analytical shift. Methodological innovations like Robust Decision Making can help. By motivating and equipping analysts to manage uncertainty, they can shape how we think about, discuss, and make decisions.
The path to climate change preparedness should start at the intersection of resilience and robustness — that is, building resilient communities with the individuals and organizations within those communities making robust decisions, ones designed to work well over a wide range of ever-changing conditions.
Limiting climate change requires a revolution in the way the global economy generates and consumes energy. It is becoming increasingly clear that the current diplomatic approach should be redesigned to meet this immense political, technical, and social challenge, writes Robert J. Lempert.