Uncertainty, precaution and risk are inextricably linked with each other, and with the public policy endpoint of sustainability: as components of public policy decision making, they address the shape of the future. In such decision-making arenas, the interplay between scientific uncertainty, the evaluation of risk, and precautionary heuristics can be complex, and is often fraught with dissension and discord. Furthermore, their interaction is often dynamic, with relationships among them shifting sometimes dramatically with time.
The characteristics of their interplay have profound implications when applied to serious, pressing public policy challenges, such as global warming and its numerous collateral impacts (loss of polar sea ice, ocean acidification and potential species loss). Less obvious, but equally compelling, are other realms in which sustainability is equally important – such as trade, foreign investment and overseas development assistance.
The Anthem Sustainability and Risk Series aims to provide a comprehensive view of the complex dynamics of sustainability, precaution, uncertainty and risk, both by breaking down these topics into their component pieces, and by generating a steadily evolving corpus of new thinking to help shed light on the consequences of their interplay. At stake is nothing less than the future shape of the planet we leave for our children’s grandchildren, who will inherit an ecosystem that, for better or ill, is beyond their capacity to choose or influence.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_wirth/99/