Colloquium on November 29, 2010

Jorge M. Pacheco
Departamento de Matemática e Aplicações, Universidade do Minho
CMAF, Complexo Interdisciplinar da Universiadade de Lisboa

Evolutionary dynamics of Climate Change under the Collective Risk Dilemma

When deciding to take measures to avoid global warming, individuals often face a social dilemma in which, besides securing future benefits, it is also necessary to reduce the chances of future losses. This turns the “risk of failure” into a central issue in individual decision. We model this social dilemma in terms of a public goods game of cooperation in which benefits do not increase proportional to the investments made, and in which the perception of risk biases individual decision to cooperate or not in the game. I show how the outcome of cooperation is strongly dependent on the ratio between the amount invested by each individual and her perception of risk regarding the future. Increasing the perception of risk in a collective dilemma where defection dominates, leads to the emergence of a rich dynamics with scenarios of both coordination and co-existence, from which cooperation emerges. I will describe the evolutionary dynamics of cooperation in the presence of risk. The results suggest that global coordination for a common good should be attempted by segmenting tasks in many small to medium sized groups in which perception of risk is high and achievement of goals involves stringent requirements. Finally, I show how networking groups along the links of a scale free network further enhances the chances of coordinating to tame the planet’s climate.