Climatic Change

, Volume 85, Issue 1–2, pp 1–9

Probabilities in climate policy advice: a critical comment

Article

Abstract

This essay explores as to whether probabilistic climate forecasting is consistent with the prerequisites of democratic scientific policy advice. It argues that, given the boundaries of our current knowledge, it is highly problematic to assign exact, unconditional probabilities to possible values of climate sensitivity. The range of possible–instead of probable–future climate scenarios is what climate policy should be based on.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Albert M (2003) Bayesian rationality and decision making: a critical review. Anal Krit 25:101–117Google Scholar
  2. Cartwright N (1999) The dappled world: a study of the boundaries of science. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Dessai S, Hulme M (2003) Does climate policy need probabilities? Working Paper 34, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change ResearchGoogle Scholar
  4. Forest CE, Stone PH, Sokolov AP, Allenand MR, Webster MD (2002) Quantifying uncertainties in climate system properties with the use of recentclimate observations. Science 295:113–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gillies D (2000) Philosophical theories of probability. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Hegerl GC, Crowley TJ, Hyde WT, Frame DJ (2006) Climate sensitivity constrained by temperature reconstructions over the past seven centuries. Nature 440:1029–1032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kriegler E, Held H (2005) Utilizing belief functions for the estimation of future climate change. Int J Approx Reason 39(2–3):185–209 (June)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Levi I (1980) The enterprise of knowledge. An assay on knowledge, credal probability and chance. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Morgan MG, Keith DW (1995) Climate-change – subjective judgments by climate experts. Environ Sci Technol 29:A468–A476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Schneider SH (2002) Can we estimate the likelihood of climatic changes at 2100? Clim Change 52:441–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Stainforth DA, Aina T, Christensen C, Collins M, Faull N, Frame DJ, Kettleborough JA, Knight S, Martin A, Murphy JM, Piani C, Sexton D, Smith LA, Spicer RA, Thorpe AJ, Allen MR (2005) Uncertainty in predictions of the climate response to rising levels of greenhouse gases. Nature 433:403–406 (January)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Walley P (1991) Statistical reasoning with imprecise probabilities. Chapman and Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Webster MD, Forest CE, Reilly J, Babiker M, Kicklighter D, Mayer M, Prinn R, Sarofim M, Sokolov AP, Stone P, Wang C (2003) Uncertainty analysis of climatic change and policy responses. Clim Change 61(3):295–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Zickfeld K, Levermann A, Morgan MG, Kuhlbrodt T, Rahmstorf S, Keith DW (2007) Present state and future fate of the atlantic meridional overturning circulation as viewed by experts. Clim Change 82:235–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyFree University BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations