The most useful academic subject I ever studied was risk management. This taught me how and why people exaggerate, or underplay, the likelihood of certain things happening.
Through my MSc course, I had the honour of meeting Paul Slovic, author of an iconic 1987 paper on the perception of risk. This stated that true risks can be largely distorted in the mind by ‘dread’ and ‘knowability’.
Dread reflects the degree of personal control and possibility of death or catastrophe now or in the future. A dread risk terrifies us, so we want to see it removed, or at least reduced.
Knowability relates to a risk’s novelty, whether it is understood or can be observed and whether its effects are delayed or unknown to those exposed. Lack of knowability makes people anxious. It is unsettling.
Chris Cullen, Sam Taylor and Adam Baddeley of Eunomia Research & Consulting analyse the problems of securing the UK’s future electricity supply
Affordable, secure and clean – these are the objectives for the future of electricity supply in the UK, as stated in July’s white paper on electricity market reform (EMR). The question of what levels of support should be given to each technology type is a relevant one. This should be prefixed, however, by asking what generation mix we need to meet the above policy objectives? Or, perhaps more pertinently, is it even possible that they can all be met?