Policy ForumSUSTAINABILITY

Prediction, precaution, and policy under global change

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Science  27 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6225, pp. 953-954
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261824

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Summary

A great deal of research to inform environmental conservation and management takes a predict-and-prescribe strategy in which improving forecasts about future states of ecosystems is the primary goal. But sufficiently thorough understanding of ecosystems needed to reduce deep uncertainties is probably not achievable, seriously limiting the potential effectiveness of the predict-and-prescribe approach. Instead, research should integrate more closely with policy development to identify the range of alternative plausible futures and develop strategies that are robust across these scenarios and responsive to unpredictable ecosystem dynamics.