Almost every country has pledged to slash carbon emissions to slow the gears of global warming. Costa Rica's plan provides a glimpse of what a carbon-neutral future will look like. It shows how nations can take action and make investments that hold up, regardless of what future comes to pass.
RAND analyzed what could happen with COVID-19 deaths in the United States if restrictions all go away on July 4. Fully reopening the economy before Biden's vaccination target was met doubled the average number of COVID-19 deaths between Independence Day and the end of the year.
As climate change accelerates there is a growing disconnect between what our infrastructure systems can do and what we need them to do. Policymakers should view infrastructure investments as not simply hardware fixes and upgrades, but as efforts to close this gap.
This weekly recap focuses on how the Biden-Harris administration can restore public trust, the risk of Thanksgiving becoming a super-spreader event, why teachers should be among the first to get a COVID19 vaccination, and more.
The need for immediate answers in the face of severe public health and economic distress may create a temptation to relax statistical standards. But urgency should not preclude expert analysis and honest assessments of uncertainty. Mistaken assumptions could lead to counterproductive actions.
COVID-19 could have lasting effects on future travel patterns. Future scenarios, a method for visualizing different possible futures, can help inform decisions in deeply uncertain situations and can be used to think about policies that are important for people's quality of life regardless of how the future unfolds.
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.
Deep decarbonization can reduce the risk of climate change, and it offers opportunities to reimagine energy, transportation, and infrastructure. But it could also fail in many ways. Diverse, independent actors need a shared understanding of its complexity and deep uncertainty to design a solution to this challenge.
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.