What’s the Worst Thing that Can Happen?—A Simple Exercise to Communicating and Reasoning About Climate Change

  • Markus WillEmail author
  • Joost Platje
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Climate communication has so far not being very successful in fostering behavioral changes of individuals and inducing political interventions. There is a gap between knowledge and behavior and there is a tendency to postpone serious action with the reason that science is not settled about the extent of impacts and the effectiveness of counter action. However, the preposition of the authors is that there is no much sense in waiting for something to be proven, but there is a necessity for making a rational decision between “doing something” or “doing nothing”. Instead of waiting for scientific proof, the question is reframed to what is the best bet in the face of uncertainty and low probability, high impact events. A structured exercise and facilitation guideline is presented as a tool for lecturers and teachers, to generally discuss about climate change within a rational framework. Making use of the Craven’s grid, after its inventor Greg Craven, its limits are assessed and opportunities for further development are derived. The grid can be developed into an instrument that may prepare participants for understanding small probability, high impact events. As such, the exercise can be very useful for discussing climate change issues, but also other events which are grounded in the increasing complexity of systems.


Climate change communication Precautionary principle Complexity X-events 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Applied Sciences Zittau/GörlitzZittauGermany
  2. 2.WSB University in WrocławWroclawPoland

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