This article takes stock of the literature that is advancing knowledge about how to classify, organize and think about existential risks and globally catastrophic risks altogether. It then points out policy implications from this literature and applies those implications to a short case study on the National Risk Register, a comprehensive risk policy in the United Kingdom. In doing so, it names three broad systems that have emerged in the literature, which are those that organize risks by (1) consequences of risks, (2) sources or causes of risks and (3) risk processes and interactions with human systems. Organizing risks by consequences aids in risk prioritization, while classifying risks by source or cause aids in risk prevention and mitigation. Analysing risk processes and interactions with human systems opens the policy frame to broader policies of risk response and resilience.
- When managing the basket of large risks al-together, policy makers must make decisions about which risks to prioritize under constraints of limited resources. Organizing risks by their consequences will aid in prioritization among risks.
- Policy makers should understand the subjectivity and biases inherent to probability and scale estimates of many large global risks, and be aware of biases that limit comprehension of the differences in scale between existential risk and other global risks.
- Risks that are unknowable or have high un-certainty should not be ignored. One way of dealing with risks that are uncertain or un-knowable is to expand to other policy paradigms, such as a resilience paradigm.
- Systems of organizing risk by essential properties like source, cause or academic field add analytical insight for risk prevention, allow for more tailored policies that match the specific properties of certain risks, and/or policies that address multiple risks with simi-lar properties.
- Organizing systems that consider cascading risk processes and how risks interact with vulnerabilities in human systems offer a more holistic approach to studying risks and offer guidance on how and when different types of policies (e.g. prevention, response, resilience) apply throughout risk processes.
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