Applying Stated Preferences in the Presence of Uncertainty
1. Climate change and uncertainty 1.1 INTRODUCTION Anthropogenic climate change is one of the greatest environmental policy challenges facing the modern world. It has emerged as the central international environmental question of the last quarter of the twentieth century. In the simplest language, climate change can be defined as predicted changes in the world’s weather patterns due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases refer to a set of gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrogen dioxide (N2O), which trap heat released by the sun and, consequently, make the globe warmer. Some climate scientists claim that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 increased by 36 per cent between the pre-industrial era and 2005, resulting in an increase in average global temperature of 0.74 °C. If this trend continues, then average global temperature is forecast to rise by 3 °C by 2100 (IPCC, 2007). This increase in global warming is predicted to cause changes in climatic patterns that may include changes in rainfall patterns leading to water shortages and/or flooding; melting of glaciers; an increase in sea level; shifts in crop growing seasons affecting food security; and changes in the distribution of disease vectors, putting more people at risk of contracting insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever (IPCC, 2007). Some of the positive effects of climate change include longer crop and fish growing seasons, higher yield growth rates at higher latitudes and lower winter mortality in many temperate regions such as the UK,...
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