Policy Relevant Science: A Minefield where Uncertainty, Ignorance and Policy Meet

2012 CUAHSI Biennial Colloquia

Roger Pielke, Jr. / University of Colorado at Boulder

Talk Description:

It is no longer controversial for call for science to be more relevant to decision making. For instance, the theme of this CUAHSI biennial meeting is focused on “how to bridge gaps between science and solutions.” However, making science relevant to real world decisions can be a minefield, especially for research that deals with complex and non-stationary phenomena and decisions that involve high stakes and disputes over closely held values. On issues as important as those involving water, scientific knowledge must be a key consideration in decision making, but there are better and worse ways to incorporate science in how we choose to act. Consequently, how scientists choose to “bridge gaps” can make a big difference in real-world outcomes. This talk will explore several cases of the use and misuse of science in decision making, and raise a few perhaps counterintuitive lessons from that experience.