Uncertainty, Global Warming, and public policy

Another item in the latest Industrial Physicist is a piece on understanding the uncertainties in global warming models, and the public policy implications of those uncertainties. It’s well worth a read if you care about global warming in particular or science and public policy in general.

One of the hardest things about ensuring that public policy is based on sound science is that sound science inherently involves uncertainties. Politicians like yes or no answers, but science only gives really reliable answers in the very long term, far longer than the relevant political timescales. In order to make policy based on sound science, politicians have to take uncertainty into account, and allow for the possibility that the policies may need to be adjusted as new information becomes available.