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Climate mitigation and adaptation technologies and methods, need metrics that reflect their costs and risks as well as potential benefits.



Holding warming to 2 degrees is an appealing goal for ease of measurement, but temperature is not a direct measure of impact on human well-being: we should not advocate technologies or methods that would increase human poverty, decrease human health and well-being, or increase human mortality (including climate-related death rates.) We need to measure the impact of mitigation and adaptation plans and technologies on human beings, not merely temperature. Human impact will be more difficult to measure than temperature, but we should be able to develop humanistic metrics, to mitigate the risk of false "solutions" that would make human lives worse rather than better.

What actions do you propose?

MIT alumni do pioneering work in developing quantitative models and metrics in all disciplines of human knowledge; these should be brought together to develop humanistic metrics of the total impact of proposed mitigation and adaptation methods. For example, solar panel technologies may reduce CO2 emissions, and thus reduce human death rates from heat and from weather events; they may also have severe adverse effects on the health and longevity of humans who extract and work with rare earths, which are, at this time, an essential component of known solar panel technologies. MIT can bring together alumni in different fields, from materials science, industrial engineering, and economics, to public health and occupational medicine, to develop appropriate humanistic metrics that will optimize the impact of proposed strategies and methods on human well-being.