Environmental Management

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 161–166

Importance of scientific uncertainty in decision making

  • Kenneth H. Reckhow


Uncertainty in environmental decision making should not be thought of as a problem that is best ignored. In fact, as is illustrated in a simple example, we often informally make use of awareness of uncertainty by hedging decisions away from large losses. This hedging can be made explicit and formalized using the methods of decision analysis. While scientific uncertainty is undesirable, it can still be useful in environmental management as it provides a basis for the need to fund additional monitoring, experimentation, or information acquisition to improve the scientific basis for decisions.

Key words

Uncertainty Decision making Decision analysis Risk Safety factors Water quality management 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth H. Reckhow
    • 1
  1. 1.School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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