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10 - Uncertainties in perspective

from Part One - The TARGETS model

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 July 2010

Jan Rotmans
Affiliation:
National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM), The Netherlands
Bert de Vries
Affiliation:
National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM), The Netherlands
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Summary

Any exploration of future developments inevitably involves a considerable degree of uncertainty and integrated assessment modelling is no exception. One of the major uncertainties has to do with the direction of policy-making. In order to accommodate a wide variety of world views and management styles, this chapter introduces the concept of multiple model routes. These are alternative ways of looking at model relationships, taking into account the bias and preferences of a number of stereo-typical perspectives. These perspectives, which each represent a different attitude to nature and society, are typified as hierarchist, egalitarian, individualist and fatalist. Matching a consistent management style with the first three (active) perspectives permits an analysis of ‘utopias’, while the opposite case – when world view and management style are out of step – reveals the risk of a number of possible ‘dystopias’.

Introduction

The future is inherently uncertain and thus unpredictable. Nevertheless, people in general, and decision-makers in particular, are interested in exploring future developments in order to make plans. One of the roles of science is to assist decisionmakers by sketching images of the future of the planet and of humankind. Scientists are facing an increase in both the magnitude and the degree of complexity. The issues currently associated with global change differ from other scientific problems in several respects (Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1993):

  • they are global in scale and long term in their impact;

  • the available data is lamentably inadequate; and

  • the phenomena, being novel, complex and variable, are themselves not well understood.

Type
Chapter
Information
Perspectives on Global Change
The TARGETS Approach
, pp. 205 - 222
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

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