Human Behavior Is the Other Puzzle for Climate-Change Modeling

Climate risk involves consumer preferences and litigation outcomes, in addition to floods and fires

How sustainability concerns will influence spending habits is a source of uncertainty for companies. Above: Shoppers at a mall in Singapore.

Photo: thomas white/Reuters

Climate-change modeling largely draws from physical science. How much hotter will the world get as greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, and what does that mean for heat waves, floods and harvests?

But these hazards are only half the picture for companies facing pressure to assess their exposure to climate risks. The other half concerns people. Will consumers switch to eco-friendly products? Will governments raise carbon taxes? And how quickly could such changes occur?

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