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Analysis and Comment (15)

Good weather for ducks. Good weather for ducks. Andrew Matthews/PA

Climate change and natural patterns combined to bring wettest winter ever

An estimated 5,800 homes and businesses have been flooded in England and Wales this winter, now officially the wettest ever. By comparison, the total was 55,300 properties after the 2007 summer floods…
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warns investors not to ignore climate risks. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warns investors not to ignore climate risks. EPA/Chris Kleponis

Fossil fuel campaigners win support from unexpected places

If you haven’t heard about the growing campaign for fossil fuel divestment, and what it means for both your retirement funds and for the global economy, it’s time to pay attention - because now even the…
It’s better to plan for disaster than have to plan a clean up after one. It’s better to plan for disaster than have to plan a clean up after one. IAEA Imagebank

What is ‘acceptable risk’ when planning a nuclear power plant?

Modern safety engineering follows the aphorism, “there is no such thing as zero risk, only acceptable risk”. However, calculating chances and risk is a finicky process, especially when played out against…
Prior to the global financial crisis, 100% loans were commonplace in Australia. Prior to the global financial crisis, 100% loans were commonplace in Australia. Casey Konstantin/Flickr

Risk on? Australian banks skirt unofficial home lending limits

Australian banks are much more heavily exposed to mortgage lending than banks in most parts of the world, which is why the latest publication of APRA data on home lending has set the hares running. The…
Framing with disaster may not be the best option. Framing with disaster may not be the best option. Lone Primate

Climate change is not all disaster and uncertainty

How does newspaper coverage affect how we view climate change? A new report has estimated that 82% of articles about climate change are framed in the context of “disaster” and “uncertainty”. The report’s…
To assess the risk of a schizophrenic attack, we try to work out the risk of a rare event in a bunch of people with a mixed bag of symptoms. To assess the risk of a schizophrenic attack, we try to work out the risk of a rare event in a bunch of people with a mixed bag of symptoms. Flickr/daniellehelm

Are you really at risk of attack by someone with schizophrenia?

A violent attack by someone who is mentally ill quickly grabs the headlines. And it’s usually implied that mental illnesses are a preventable cause of violent crime. Tackle that and we can all sleep safer…
Putting panels on your roof reduces your power bill, but it also reduces the risk of price rises for everyone on the network. Putting panels on your roof reduces your power bill, but it also reduces the risk of price rises for everyone on the network. murphyz/Flickr

Rooftop solar reduces the risk of price hikes … for everyone

How much would you pay to avoid another $250 a year hike in your electricity bill? Does $15 a year sound like too much to reduce that risk? We’ve heard a lot lately about rising electricity prices. That’s…
HSBC chief executive officer Irene Dorner testifies before the US Senate about allegations of money laundering within HSBC. HSBC chief executive officer Irene Dorner testifies before the US Senate about allegations of money laundering within HSBC. AAP

HSBC’s money laundering scandal is more than just risky business practice

Recent news that HSBC executives admitted to allowing Iran, terrorists and drug dealers to launder nearly USD$16 billion over a six-year period would make earth underneath you shake. How is that the bank’s…
Serious, interconnected risks are closing in on the globalised community, from climate change to anarchy. Are we heeding the warnings? Serious, interconnected risks are closing in on the globalised community, from climate change to anarchy. Are we heeding the warnings? AAP/EPA/Daniel Deme

Highway to dystopia: time to wise up to the looming risks

In that world of peripheral vision, essential for business, social and political leaders, it is surprising that the World Economic Forum’s report, Global Risks 2012 has not received greater publicity or…
Derivatives can allow farmers to reduce their risk by guarding against changes in the weather. Derivatives can allow farmers to reduce their risk by guarding against changes in the weather. Flickr

Why hedging a bet on Mother Nature is a hot commodity

For some industries, the weather plays a significant role in determining revenue. Unexpected weather events can often cause significant financial losses. For instance, a drought can yield a severe impact…
If speaking up helps avoid devastating bushfires, scientists should take the risk. If speaking up helps avoid devastating bushfires, scientists should take the risk. AAP

Will climate change increase bushfires? Not knowing is no excuse for not talking

Scientists are increasingly expected to engage with the media to communicate their findings. My research leads me to believe Hobart is at risk from a severe bushfire disaster – but what are my responsibilities…
We should decide how to act based on how risky something is, and how bad the consequences will be. We should decide how to act based on how risky something is, and how bad the consequences will be. dybarber/Flickr

Responsible scientific advice about climate change is not scaremongering

A popular misconception in the public mind is that science “proves” things by turning them from ideas and theories into absolute “facts”. This more or less confuses science with mathematics. Mathematical…
Our best efforts to gauge threats may be counter-productive. Our best efforts to gauge threats may be counter-productive. bre pettiss

Danger of death: are we programmed to miscalculate risk?

Assessing risk is something everyone must do every day. Yet few are very good at it, and there are significant consequences of the public’s collective inability to accurately assess risk. As a first and…
Seventeen Australians have died this year from quad bike accidents, also known as all terrain vehicles or ATVs. Seventeen Australians have died this year from quad bike accidents, also known as all terrain vehicles or ATVs. Flickr/sharkbait

It’s time for quad bike manufacturers to rollover on safety

The tragic quad-biking death of an 11-year-old boy from northwest Victoria on Monday takes the 2011 death toll from all terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents to 17. The boy reportedly died after his ATV overturned…
UBS chief Oswald Gruebel has stepped down after a rogue trader cost the bank $US2.3 billion. UBS chief Oswald Gruebel has stepped down after a rogue trader cost the bank $US2.3 billion. AAP

As UBS boss quits over rogue trader, banks must face some risk realities

The chief executive of Swiss banking giant UBS, Oswald Gruebel, has quit following revelations of a $US2.3 billion fraud by “rogue trader” Kweku Adoboli. But the news will come as cold comfort for investors…

Research Briefs (1)