climate-changed city
ShutterstockWe can we make good planning decisions in the face of climate uncertainty?

Making decisions about how and where to invest limited resources is always difficult, especially with a group of diverse stakeholders. It’s more difficult when, as in the case of infrastructure like bridges, sea walls, and sewer systems, the effects of the decisions can extend out for decades, even centuries. And it’s more difficult still when future conditions are subject to what I discussed in a previous post as “deep uncertainty.”

Deep uncertainty involves two basic conditions. First, the models we use to anticipate future conditions produce a wide range of scenarios of equal (or indeterminate) likelihood. There are, to quote my current favorite World Bank white paper, “multiple possible future worlds without known relative probabilities.” And second, stakeholders have divergent worldviews and irreconcilable differences about what counts as success, or an appropriate level of risk.