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Game Theory and Climate Change


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What Kind of Problem Is Climate Change? By Alex Rosenberg

This article is about the current status of climate change and how it relates to game theory. Rosenberg defines climate change as the classic prisoner’s dilemma. He first defines preventing climate change as a public good: it is impossible for a nation to not benefit from the prevention of climate change. He then relates the prisoners to nations, for example the United States is one prisoner and the rest of the world is another. If the United States and the rest of the world fights climate change together, everyone benefits. However, if the rest of the world fights climate change and the United States doesn’t, the U.S. achieves maximum benefit because they don’t have to pay the cost of fighting climate change. But if the rest of the world and the U.S. doesn’t fight climate change, the Nash Equilibrium, everyone pays. This seems to be the current situation right now.

Rosenberg argues that understanding this dilemma could help us propose better agreements/solutions to fight climate change. It is interesting that many of the topics we learn in this class have a variety in the level importance in the world. For example, we have learned topics that should predict the outcome of two competing pizza stores (game theory). But these same theories can be used to explain geopolitical issues such as climate change. It is possible that the principles we are learning are similar to the laws of physics, which dictate everything from the movement of the smallest particles in atoms all the way up to the movement of planets and beyond. Maybe the topics of networks are natural characteristics of our universe.


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October 2019