Uncertainty and the Environment

Uncertainty and the Environment

Implications for Decision Making and Environmental Policy

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Richard Young

This thought provoking book is concerned with the need to deal adequately with uncertainty in environmental decision making. The author advances a critique of the use of traditional models and then develops an alternative model of decision making under uncertainty, based on the work of George Shackle.

Chapter 3: Environmental Uncertainty

Richard Young

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics

Extract

3.1 INTRODUCTION In the previous chapters the nature of the uncertainty problem faced in many environmental issues has been highlighted and the decision-making context in which environmental uncertainty will ultimately dealt with, outlined. A basic premise of this book is that the type of uncertainty faced in many decisions concerning the environment is such that an alternative approach to risk-based models will be required. This assertion is based on the realization that there are a number of different modalities of uncertainty, reflecting the notion that in any given decision the type and level of uncertainty will often vary. This chapter is concerned therefore with developing a more comprehensive theory and definition of uncertainty and in particular environmental uncertainty, which gives a firm basis on which a critique of existing models can be developed. This chapter is organized into two main sections. The first considers the concept of uncertainty in a general fashion, before developing a framework which will allow the different modalities of uncertainty to be identified. The next stage is to use this framework to highlight some of the different types of uncertainty such as ecological uncertainty and valuation uncertainty, faced in environmental policy making. 3.2 CONCEPTUALIZING UNCERTAINTY The presence of uncertainty in many choices and decisions taken both by individuals and by society would appear irrefutable. Before an attempt can be made to provide explanations or prescriptions of how decision makers do and should account for uncertainty and more specifically environmental uncertainty, a crucial...

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