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Paul Fischbeck - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Paul Fischbeck

Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Paul Fischbeck's research focuses on the quantification and communication of uncertainty.


Paul Fischbeck's research focuses on the quantification and communication of uncertainty. This work covers both theoretical improvements to decision analysis and numerous applied real world problems.

Using a systems approach, Paul has studied a variety of topical problems. Working closely with graduate students, he has quantified the pollution caused by international shipping and proposed several engineering and economic solutions. Paul is a co-director of the Brownfields Center at Carnegie Mellon University and have developed RISES (Regional Industrial Site Evaluation Systems), a geographic information system (GIS) designed to evaluate the environmental risk and economic potential of abandoned industrial sites. Paul is currently studying performance-based regulations and how they can be used to improve fire-safety systems and oil-tanker design.

Paul also has an active research program in understanding and improving risk communication and the design of effective decision support systems. He has studied the actual and perceived risks of mine subsidence in western Pennsylvania, insurance-buying behavior in US and Japan, warning labels on paint strippers, and the health and environmental concerns of citizens in the Pittsburgh area. Paul is currently studying how farmers make crop-insurance purchase decision and perceptions of risk and diversification in financial markets and the power-generation industry.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Decision Analysis

Industrial Engineering



Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Media Appearances (5)

What's the Carbon Footprint of Your Sofa, of Your Festival Meal?

The Wire  online


“Food production – how the food is grown or raised – and meal preparation – how the food is cooked –both contribute to the carbon footprint. We broke our dinner down into its separate dishes, and then broke those down into the individual ingredients. For each ingredient, we tracked its carbon emissions from ‘farm-to-fork.’ Production and preparation both contribute about 50 pounds of carbon dioxide, but it varies from state to state and house to house,” said Paul Fischbeck, a professor of social and decisions sciences at CMU’s Dietrich College, in a news release.

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Everyone is completely misinterpreting a new study about American diets

Business Insider  online


"We looked at what Americans eat — we're not trying to change people's preferences — we looked at the USDA guidelines and assumed people would look at them and eat more of what they like," study author Paul Fischbeck, who is a professor of social sciences and engineering and public policy, told Business Insider.

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Why That Study About How Vegetarians Are Killing the Environment Is Ridiculously Wrong

Slate  online


The study rests on the premise that “going vegetarian” means replacing meat with large amounts of vegetables, fruits, and dairy, which is what the USDA recommends for a healthy diet. Ergo, the authors spend most of their time hating on specific vegetables: “Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” says Paul Fischbeck, one of the study’s authors. “Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery, and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”

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Lettuce Produces More Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Bacon Does

Scientific American  online


"You cannot just jump and assume that any vegetarian diet is going to have a low impact on the environment," said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy and one of the authors of the study. "There are many that do, but not all. You can't treat all fruits and veggies as good for the environment."

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Vegetarian and 'healthy' diets could be more harmful to the environment, researchers say

ScienceDaily  online


"Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon," said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy. "Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken."

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Professor Paul Fischbeck Puts Toyota Risk into Perspective Risk Assessment in Spectrum Policy: Welcome & Risk Analysis in Engineering and Public Policy



Industry Expertise (2)



Education (3)

Stanford University: Ph.D., Industrial Engineering/Engineering Management 1991

Naval Postgraduate School: M.S., Operations Research 1981

University of Virginia: B.S., Architecture 1974

Articles (4)

Modifying the EPA’s New Power Plant Rules to Eliminate Unnecessary Reliability Risks

Environmental Science & Technology

2023 When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new rules (1) governing emissions from coal and natural gas power plants on May 11, 2023, it was the federal government’s third attempt (along with the Clean Power Plan and the Affordable Clean Energy rule) in the past decade to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by requiring changes at existing coal and natural gas power plants. Historically, the United States has used nuclear power, coal, and natural gas─sources that can be operated on demand, without regard for whether the wind is blowing or the sun is shining─to generate reliable electricity.

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Six principles to guide large-scale carbon capture and storage development

Energy Research & Social Science

2023 Despite considerable effort, there are few large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects operating commercially in the world today. The importance of CCS to the world's long-term decarbonization goals, however, has never been greater. The long-term outlooks of the United Nations and individual governments all place considerable reliance on the broad adoption of CCS technology for both power-generation and industrial applications.

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Emissions from Waterborne Commerce Vessels in United States Continental and Inland Waterways

Environmental Science & Technology

2000 We present an inventory of emissions from marine vessels engaged in waterborne commerce (i.e., cargo transport) on the U.S. navigable waters. Emissions are estimated for 1997 for various U.S regions and types of traffic, including oceangoing (international), coastwise (domestic), inland-river system, and Great Lakes. Nearly all emissions in U.S. waters occur in shipping channels outside of port regions, either on rivers or within 200 miles of shore. NOx emissions from commercial marine engines considered in this study account for about half of the U.S. EPA baseline inventory of ∼1000 tons per year for all marine vessels ( (1)).

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False Precision in Bayesian Updating with Incomplete Models

Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal

1999 As risk analysts learn and use more advanced statistical methods for characterizing uncertainty in their assessments, care must be taken to avoid systematic errors in model specification and subsequent inference. We argue that misspecifcation of the likelihood function in Bayesian analysis, due to underestimated errors, failure to account for correlations in model-data errors, and failure to consider omitted confounding variables, is a particularly pervasive and difficult problem with potentially serious consequences.

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