If we consider our entire planet as a safety and mission critical system, how sophisticated should risk management approaches be for such important issues as accelerating climate instability, energy security, ecosystem vulnerability, and resource depletion, among other issues? Wouldn’t it make sense to apply similar precautions?
At the core of effective risk management is the realization that just because something hasn’t happened before, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the future. So, if the consequences of failure (i.e. in runaway climate change) are catastrophic, then it’s appropriate to rapidly and effectively intervene to reduce the likelihood of such an outcome.
Just as not being 100% certain of safety is not a reason to ground all aircraft, the lack of irrefutable data is not a sufficient reason to abandon the precautionary principle – a central tenet of sustainability – which is about making decisions that do not pose a threat to people and nature, even if that means we forego some opportunities.
Have you ever been in the middle of a debate and realised that you’ve been sidetracked by faulty logic or a straw man?
How can we decide whether the precautionary principle should be invoked, given that it is logically impossible to have 100% certainty?