Book Chapter

The Politics of Uncertainty: Challenges of Transformation: Chapter 7

Uncertainty in Modelling Climate Change

Published on 1 January 2020

There is significant uncertainty in establishing the incidence, scale and pattern of change resulting from climatic events and environmental hazards.

Scientific and policy attention has concentrated on how to manage – and particularly how to reduce – uncertainty. A range of approaches are used to characterise uncertainty in predictive models and a key challenge is how to communicate the meanings and consequences to those affected. While uncertainty can be seen as a limitation on the ability to forecast the future using scientific models, especially for those affected by climate events, these uncertainties provide a space to negotiate future changes.

Taking the case of climate change in India, this chapter focuses on the practices of working with uncertainties: how they are negotiated, maintained and represented in forecasting models, through scenarios and projections, as well as their interactions with science and policy processes. We argue that epistemic uncertainty in relation to climate change provides an opportunity for embracing knowledge pluralism, and that more radical experiments in co-production are required to facilitate socially just pathways to transformative change.

Cite this publication

Mehta, L. and Srivastava, S. (2020) 'Uncertainty in Modelling Climate Change', in I. Scoones and A. Stirling (eds) (2020) The Politics of Uncertainty: Challenges of Transformation, pp 99-112, (1st ed.), Routledge


Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Shilpi Srivastava

Research Fellow


Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

Andy Stirling

Publication details

published by
Taylor and Francis


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