Scientific uncertainty has been described as a ‘monster’ that defies our best efforts to understand the Earth’s climate system. Commentators and politicians routinely cite uncertainty about the severity of climate change impacts to justify their opposition to mitigation measures such as a price on carbon.
What is the appropriate response to uncertainty about the future of the Earth’s climate? Is there too much uncertainty to warrant action? Should we wait for more certainty?
On the face of it, complacency in the light of uncertainty might appear tolerable or even advisable.
However, a mathematical analysis of the implications of uncertainty about future temperature increases shows otherwise.