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333 Uncertainty, Society, and Resilience: A Case Study in the Columbia River Basin Gregory Hill, Steven Kolmes, Eric T. Jones, and Rebecca McLain Uncertainty, in its many manifestations, is a central factor in the management of complex systems, whether environmental (van der Sluijs 2007), climatic (Risbey and Kandlikar 2007), medical, or financial (McDaniel and Driebe 2005). Nowhere is this more apparent than in the management of ecosystems heavily affected by human use.True to the characteristics of complex systems, the distinction between cause and effect is blurred as environmental degradation drives changes in economic factors and social-cultural relationships, which in turn influence the state of the ecosystem (Liu et al. 2007). In such a system, uncertainty exists in many attributes: in the knowledge of the current state of environmental conditions and their relationships to economic and social factors; in the variability of these conditions and relationship over time; in the projections of the effects of human management interventions; and in the reliability of the mathematical models used to assess these conditions, relationships, and projections (Walker et al. 2003).The different actors involved in planning, each having a unique point of view, see uncertainty differently—for example regarding a high level of uncertainty either as a reason for action or as a factor supporting inaction.We will argue in this chapter that the way in which uncertainty is managed in a planning and policy process has important implications in terms of framing the deliberations and influencing the balance of power among the various entities involved in system governance. It is worth taking a moment to note that at the inception of the development of American environmental thought,consideration of values and ethics was an explicit keystone. Concerning “The Land Ethic,”Aldo Leopold wrote (Leopold 1949): All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise:That the individual is a member of a community of independent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, water, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land . . . No important change in ethics was ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions.The proof that conservation has not yet touched these foundations of conduct lies in the fact that philosophy and religion have not yet heard of it. In our attempt to make conservation easy, we have made it trivial. 334 Gregory Hill, Steven Kolmes, EricT. Jones & Rebecca McLain Today, philosophy and religion are engaged with the ethics and values of conservation, but ethical analysis has generally vanished from scientifically based conservation planning. Discussions of environmental planning inherently contain ethical dimensions, because they are discussions about the relationship between humans and the planet. The more complicated the circumstances, the more uncertainty in possible future scenarios, and the greater the stakes to more stakeholders in a society,the greater the need for ethical analysis,if we wish to avoid making conservation planning “trivial.” The authors of this chapter are investigators in an on-going research project to study the use of computer modeling and decision support systems in multistakeholder environmental problem solving processes. Our study focuses on the effectiveness of these tools to address issues of equity and breadth of public participation and the quality of planning outcomes.The context of our study is the Columbia River Basin and the public deliberation process for the recovery of species of Columbia River salmon and steelhead as required under the Endangered Species Act.The perspectives expressed in this chapter are based in part on ethnographic interviews conducted in 2008 throughout the Columbia River Basin. Interviews were conducted with a wide range of managers, scientists, and public stakeholders involved in, or concerned about, planning for salmon recovery. The Nature of Uncertainty The way in which uncertainty is perceived, understood, and managed plays a crucial role in the public participation process for salmon recovery in the Columbia River Basin. We introduce three distinct varieties of uncertainty, labeled as “epistemic,”“stochastic,” and “irreducible,” and then describe the roles they play in this process. Most narrowly conceived, uncertainty pertains to the quantitative data and model output involved in salmon recovery planning: spawner recruitment, smolt survival rates, critical habitat and spawner capacity, etc.These uncertainties, sometimes called “epistemic uncertainty” (Walker et al. 2003) can be effectively described in the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780870716928
Related ISBN
9780870716911
MARC Record
OCLC
830023889
Pages
464
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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