Climate Policy in the Face of Irreducible Uncertainty

M. Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, September 21, 2007

Spanos Auditorium

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This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

While research can get us greater understanding, many details of climate science, and of the future of the energy system, will remain uncertain for decades to come. This means we will have to develop policy in the face of irreducible uncertainty. While it would be nice to be able to know more in advance, there is nothing particularly unusual about this situation. At the personal level, we choose which university to go to, which job to take, or who to marry in the face of irreducible uncertainty. Similarly, nations make choices to change taxes, control pollution, go to war, or sue for peace in the face of irreducible uncertainty. After some brief remarks on climate change and its impacts, Morgan will present results from several studies of uncertainty in climate science and climate impacts that he and his colleagues have recently conducted. He will then describe and evaluate a variety of technologies and strategies that could be used to "decarbonize" the energy system.

About the Speaker

M. Granger Morgan is Professor and Head of the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University where he is also University and Lord Chair Professor in Engineering. In addition, he is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Morgan's research addresses problems in science, technology and public policy, much of it involving the development and demonstration of methods to characterize and treat uncertainty in quantitative policy analysis. At Carnegie Mellon, Morgan directs the NSF Climate Decision Making Center and co-directs, together with Lester Lave, the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center. Morgan serves as Chair of the EPA Science Advisory Board, Chair of the EPRI Advisory Council, and Chair of the Scientific and Technical Council for the International Risk Governance Council (based in Geneva, Switzerland). He is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the AAAS, the IEEE, and the Society for Risk Analysis. He holds a B.A. from Harvard College (1963) where he concentrated in Physics, an M.S. in Astronomy and Space Science from Cornell (1965), and a Ph.D. from the Department of Applied Physics and Information Sciences at the University of California at San Diego (1969). His father, Millett G. Morgan, was a long time member of the Thayer School Faculty, and founder of the Radiophysics Lab, one of Dartmouth's earliest major research programs.