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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 20, Issue 11/12, 2010

Environmental Ethics: Questions for the Future

Teresa Kwiatkowska, Wojciech Szatzschneider
Pages 111-126

In Quest for a Solution to Environmental Deterioration
Uses and Abuses of Uncertainty and Models

Adverse environmental and economic impacts of Icelandic volcano triggered discussions about nature’s astounding and unpredictable fury, alongside the inadequacy of human ingenuity and science to deal with factors that are totally independent and practically impossible to control. The first part of this article discusses questions related to understanding of deep uncertainty and possibility of effectively combining qualitative and quantitative analysis. Apparently the problem of incorporating surprise, critical threshold and abrupt changes is well studied in finance, but its poor application led to the latest financial crisis. It would be far more complicated when applied to complex or “wicked” events like deforestation, the conservation of endangered species, industrial pollution and climate change. The authors identify a range of problems in global idea of ‘sustainability’ and explore complexity of uncertainty. The second part reviews innovative approach that pretends to reconcile the needs of local communities with the protection of the natural world.

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