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Environmental Law

Vanderbilt University Law School

2011

Regulation

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Macro-Risks: The Challenge For Rational Risk Regulation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan A. Gilligan Jan 2011

Macro-Risks: The Challenge For Rational Risk Regulation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan A. Gilligan

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Drawing on the recent financial crisis, we introduce the concept of macro-risk. We distinguish between micro-risks, which can be managed within conventional economic frameworks, and macro-risks, which threaten to disrupt economic systems so much that a different approach is required. We argue that catastrophic climate change is a prime example of a macro-risk. Research by climate scientists suggests disturbingly high likelihoods of temperature increases and sea level rises that could cause the kinds of systemic failures that almost occurred with the financial system. We suggest that macro-risks should be the principal concern of rational risk assessment and management, but they ...