First Excerpt from The Edge in The Guardian

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An excerpt from The Edge has been published in The Guardian this week. It is the first of three such pieces that will appear over the coming weeks.

Here is how it starts:

The allegations of systematic, state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes have rocked the sports world on the eve of the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the core of the allegations are alleged efforts by Russian government and sports officials to subvert the science of drug testing in order to enable doped athletes to appear clean and then win medals.

Recent weeks have seen a focus on what to do about the eligibility of Russian athletes for the upcoming Rio Olympic Games. Few think that the International Olympic Committee and other organizations have handled this crisis particularly well. But the problems facing governing bodies in sport go much, much deeper. Beyond the headlines, one important challenge facing anti-doping organizations is scientific integrity in sports, a subject that until now has received little attention.

In my forthcoming book, The Edge: The War Against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports, I document numerous instances of the corruption of science in sport. Science is at the centre of issues involving huge economic and political stakes, making scientific integrity something that matters. The episode I describe here, adapted from The Edge, involves Erik Tysse, a Norwegian race walker, who was not treated well by the sports organizations that were supposed to be protecting his rights.

You can read the whole piece here and order The Edge here.

New Paper on Global Carbon-Free Energy

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I have turned the graph above into a short paper for the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (here in PDF). Here is how it starts:

International climate policy is incredibly complex. The field is highly technical and characterized by an esoteric jargon that is spoken by insiders who have dedicated their careers to the aim of coordinating an international response to the threats posed by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As a result, for many policy makers and the informed public, understanding climate policy can be a challenge. To help observers who may not be insiders to better understand climate policy, this essay presents a straightforward approach to tracking international (and national) progress with respect to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

To read the rest, find it at IEEJ in PDF.

Interview in Cycling Weekly on Doping

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At Cycling Weekly I and two other experts are asked 10 questions about doping in sport. Here is how the discussion is introduced:

At the end of March, Cycling Weekly co-hosted with the University of Brighton a live debate on the future of anti-doping.

The event was inspired by two comment pieces, the first by sports ethics specialist Dr Paul Dimeo, who called for a revolution in anti-doping policy — a complete re-evaluation of what we mean by ‘cheating’.

In response, substance-detection specialist Professor Yannis Pitsiladis countered that current anti-doping measures can succeed provided they evolve via improved testing and more severely punitive deterrents.

Thus the debate was sparked — anti-doping: evolution or revolution?

Now, as a follow-up to the live debate, we have brought together Dimeo and Pitsiladis with Dr Roger Pielke, political scientist and author of The Edge: The War Against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports, and asked them 10 questions that cut to the heart of the difficulties sport faces in eradicating cheating with banned substances.

Read the whole discussion here. Comments welcomed.

New Paper: Catastrophes of the 21st Century

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I have a new paper in press, titled “Catastrophes of the 21st Century.” The paper was originally prepared for the 2015 Aon Benfield Australia Hazards Conference. Here is the abstract:

There are few ways to better display our ignorance than by speculating on the long-term future. At the same time, making wise decisions depends upon both anticipating an uncertain future and the limits of what we can know. This paper takes a broad look at global trends in place today, where they may be taking us, and the implications for thinking about catastrophes of the 21st century. I suggest three types of catastrophes lie ahead. The familiar – hazards that we have come to expect based on experience and knowledge, such as earthquakes and typhoons. The emergent – hazards that are the product of a complex, interconnected world, such as financial meltdowns, supply chain disruption and epidemics. The extraordinary — hazards that may or may not be foreseen or foreseeable, but for which we are wholly unprepared, such as an asteroid impact, massive solar storm, or even fantastic scenarios found only in fiction, such as the consequences of contact with alien life. I will argue that our collective attention and expertise is, perhaps understandably, disproportionately focused on the familiar. The consequence, however, is a sort of intellectual myopia. We know more than we think about the familiar and less than we should about the emergent and the extraordinary. Yet our ability to deal with the hazards of the future likely depends much more on our ability to prepare for the emergent and the extraordinary.

The full pre-publication version of the paper is available here as a PDF. Comments welcomed.

The Edge

edgeThe cover of my new book has been released. Its pretty cool. Contrary to persistent rumors I am not the cover model.

Pre-order your copy here.