What's new?

Many thanks to everyone who contributed their feedback and suggestions on the Cambridge Threat Taxonomy version 1.0.

Your suggestions and comments have been incorporated into a revised structure, version 2.0.

Changes include:

Threat Correlation
In version 2.0 the taxonomy has been extended to incorporate the correlations between the individual threat categories. This is shown in a separate Threat correlation page that presents a matrix of how one category of threat can trigger or exacerbate another. The worst catastrophes are combinations of events, where a primary catastrophe causes secondary effects by triggering another ‘follow-on’ catastrophe. These are captured in a grading of causal and consequential correlation between threats.

Threshold definitions
The definition of a threat class has been made more explicit, adding specific ‘Criteria for inclusion’, i.e. minimum thresholds for the inclusion of the class of threat on our taxonomy. These criteria are intended to eliminate smaller types of threat that might cause localized severe impacts but not register on a global scale. The thresholds are proposed to help prioritize the focus and resources of the System Shock project.

The revised definition is summarised in What is a shock as:

A potential cause of a socio-economic catastrophe that would threaten human and financial capital, damage assets, and disrupt the systems that support our society, at a national or international level

Criteria for inclusion:
An event of this type has occurred in the past 1,000 years, or could occur somewhere in the world with an annual likelihood of greater than 1 in 1,000 (0.1%), with impacts in a single year above at least one of the following minimum thresholds:
•Human Injury: Kill more than [1,000] people or injure or make seriously ill more than [5,000] people
•Disruption: For a major region or nation, or for a particular international business sector, it would cause normal life patterns and commercial productivity to be substantially interrupted for more than [one week]
•Cost: Physical destruction of property and infrastructure costing [$10 billion] to replace, or similar level of loss of value of assets
•Economic impact: At least one country loses at least [1%] of Gross Domestic Production

Taxonomy Restructuring
• Addition of new sub-category ‘1.5 Market Volatility’ in category ‘1 Financial Shock’, to include shocks of correlated financial market movements without a definitive causal driver

• Addition of new sub-category ‘2.1 Labour Dispute’ to category ‘2 Trade Dispute’, to cover strikes. (Strikes were previously bracketed into ‘4.3 Civil Disorder’ - what were we thinking?)

• In ‘3 Geopolitical conflicts’ it was decided to split ‘3.1 Military Land War’ into three separate sub-categories to capture distinctly dfferent typologies of military conflict:
3.1 Conventional War – to cover land and naval engagements
3.2 Asymmetrical War – to cover insurgent warfare and less formal military engagements
3.3 Nuclear War – to differentiate the different conceptual nature of a nuclear confrontation

• Combining the previous ‘3.3 Blockades’ and ‘3.4 External Intervention’ into ‘3.5 External Force’ to cover all types of military power projection by an external state over another, without invasion by land forces.

• Addition of new sub-category ‘4.5 Organized Crime’ in category ‘4 Political Violence’, to include crime wave, campaign of criminal extortion, piracy, or mass illegal activities that debilitates commercial activity.

• Comments suggested adding ‘Wildfire’ as a sub-category of Natural Catastrophe. Wildfires are incorporated in the category of Environmental Catastrophe, under ‘7.5 Destruction of Natural Habitat’. To make this clearer, we are renaming this to ‘7.5 Wildfire’

• After additional research it was decided not to add a further sub-category to Natural Catastrophe to cover geotechnical failures (such as landslides or subsidence) as these seemed unlikely to be capable of causing a macro-catastrophe in the definition being used here.

• Renaming ‘8 Industrial/Technological Catastrophe’ as ‘8 Technological Catastrophe’ for simplicity.

• Renaming main category ‘10 Demographic Stress’ to ‘10 Humanitarian Crisis’. The sub-categories in this class have been re-organized, and this is a more appropriate name to reflect events that cause shocks rather than slow stresses caused by underlying changes.

• Addition of new sub-category ‘10.1 Famine’ to category ‘10 Humanitarian Crisis’. Although we capture drought (6.1), many of the great famines of history were caused by combinations of causes, including farming reorganization, political upheavals, and collapse of the food distribution system.

• Addition of new sub-category ‘10.2 Water Supply Failure’ to category ‘10 Humanitarian Crisis’. This captures political diversions of water, acquifer depletion and and failures in water distribution in addition to the more obvious drought (captured in Climatic Catastrophes).

• Addition of new sub-category ‘10.4 Welfare System Failure’ to category ‘10 Humanitarian Crisis’. Previously this was captured by ‘10.1 Longevity Stress’ but this restatement calls out the failures that occur when private or public pension systems fail, to ensure that events are being captured in the threat taxonomy, rather than underlying stress processes.

• We have standardized on the singular name for each category. This entails the following changes:
1. Financial Shock (not 1. Financial Shocks)
2. Trade Dispute (not 2. Trade Disputes)
3. Geopolitical Conflict (not 3. Geopolitical Conflicts)
9. Disease Outbreak (not 9. Diseases Outbreaks)
11. Externality (not 11. Externalities)
12. Other Shock (not 12. Other Shocks)