Centered at Penn State, SCRiM links a transdisciplinary team of scholars at 19 universities and 5 research institutions across 6 nations to answer the question, “What are sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible climate risk management strategies?”
Past fossil fuel use has imposed a complex mixture of benefits and risks on current and future generations. While enabling a tremendous growth in prosperity, the resulting greenhouse gas emissions may contribute to climate threshold responses. For example, the Greenland Ice Sheet might disintegrate in response to anthropogenic climate forcings. The resulting sea-level rise would impose serious risks for the sustainability of low-lying regions in the United States and beyond. Managing climate risks has already motivated local, national, and global actions: utilities replace coal-fired power plants with gas turbines, engineers design sea-walls for future climates, companies sequester carbon dioxide into geological reservoirs, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office has assessed possible geoengineering approaches.
These actions raise the question: what are sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible climate-risk management strategies? Analyzing this question is nontrivial for several reasons.
Characterizing and representing this deep uncertainty is critical. For example, analyses under different ethical frameworks can suggest strongly divergent strategies. Current analyses of climate-risk management strategies have typically used integrated assessment models that link knowledge and tools from fields such as Earth system science, engineering, economics, decision analysis, operations research, and statistics.
Analyzing these questions requires fundamental advances in the relevant disciplines, an effective, large-scale, and sustained network to link them together, a research-training program to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, and an integration of stakeholders and decisionmakers within a process of shared discovery. This research network on sustainable climate-risk management strategies will provide these advances and address these research questions.
More broadly, the network is designed to: