We, as a society, find ourselves confronted with a spectrum of potentially catastrophic and irreversible environmental problems, for which conventional approaches will not suffice in providing solutions. These problems are characterized, above all, by their unpredictability. This means that surprise is to be expected, and that sudden qualitative shifts in dynamics present serious problems for management. In general, it is difficult to detect strong signals of change early enough to motivate effective solutions, or even to develop scientific consensus on a time scale rapid enough to allow effective solution. Furthermore, such signals, even when detected, are likely to be displaced in space or sector from the source, so that the motivation for action is small. Conventional market mechanisms thus will be inadequate to address these challenges.