Corridors of clarity: Four principles to overcome uncertainty paralysis in the anthropocene

Stephen Polasky, Anne Sophie Crépin, Reinette Oonsie Biggs, Stephen R. Carpenter, Carl Folke, Garry Peterson, Marten Scheffer, Scott Barrett, Gretchen Daily, Paul Ehrlich, Richard B. Howarth, Terry Hughes, Simon A. Levin, Jason F. Shogren, Max Troell, Brian Walker, Anastasios Xepapadeas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Global environmental change challenges humanity because of its broad scale, long-lasting, and potentially irreversible consequences. Key to an effective response is to use an appropriate scientific lens to peer through the mist of uncertainty that threatens timely and appropriate decisions surrounding these complex issues. Identifying such corridors of clarity could help understanding critical phenomena or causal pathways sufficiently well to justify taking policy action. To this end, we suggest four principles: Follow the strongest and most direct path between policy decisions on outcomes, focus on finding sufficient evidence for policy purpose, prioritize no-regrets policies by avoiding options with controversial, uncertain, or immeasurable benefits, aim for getting the big picture roughly right rather than focusing on details.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1144
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Global environmental change
  • Science-policy interface
  • Sufficient evidence
  • Uncertainty


Dive into the research topics of 'Corridors of clarity: Four principles to overcome uncertainty paralysis in the anthropocene'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this