Coping with uncertainty: A call for a new science-policy forum

Ann Kinzig, David Starrett, Kenneth Arrow, Sara Aniyar, Bert Bolin, Partha Dasgupta, Paul Ehrlich, Carl Folke, Michael Hanemann, Geoff Heal, Michael Hoel, Ann Mari Jansson, Bengt Owe Jansson, Nils Kautsky, Simon Asher Levin, Jane Lubchenco, Karl Göran Mäler, Stephen Wilson Pacala, Stephen H. Schneider, Domenic SiniscalcoBrian Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


The scientific and policy worlds have different goals, which can lead to different standards for what constitutes "proof" of a change or phenomena, and different approaches for characterizing and conveying uncertainty and risk. These differences can compromise effective communication among scientists, policymakers, and the public, and constrain the types of socially compelling questions scientists are willing to address. In this paper, we review a set of approaches for dealing with uncertainty, and illustrate some of the errors that arise when science and policy fail to coordinate correctly. We offer a set of recommendations, including restructuring of science curricula and establishment of science-policy forums populated by leaders in both arenas, and specifically constituted to address problems of uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-335
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology


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