Saturday, June 2, 2012

Risks times two

Two quick takes:

1) Here's the brief for the 2012 edition of the World Economic Forum assessment of Global Risks:
Economic imbalances and social inequality risk reversing the gains of globalization, warns the World Economic Forum in its report Global Risks 2012. These are the findings of a survey of 469 experts and industry leaders, indicating a shift of concern from environmental risks to socioeconomic risks compared to a year ago. Respondents worry that further economic shocks and social upheaval could roll back the progress globalization has brought, and feel that the world’s institutions are ill-equipped to cope with today’s interconnected, rapidly evolving risks. The findings of the survey fed into an analysis of three major risk cases: Seeds of Dystopia; Unsafe Safeguards and the Dark Side of Connectivity. The report analyses the top 10 risks in five categories - economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological - and also highlights "X Factor" risks, the wild card threats which warrant more research, including a volcanic winter, cyber neotribalism and epigenetics, the risk that the way we live could have harmful, inheritable effects on our genes. Key crisis management lessons from Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters are highlighted in a special chapter.
The report covers environmental, societal, geopolitical, technological and economic risks. While the coverage of environmental risks isn't a fulsome as I'd like and, as one might expect from this bunch, there is an ongoing love affair with economic globalization, the report does display an interesting awareness of the interconnection among risks (see figure below).  Indeed, there is a case study focusing on the dark side of connectedness.




The world's air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn't quite a surprise, because it's been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395.

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