Apocalypse Soon?: Wagering on Warnings of Global Catastrophe

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2002 - 185 Seiten
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Apocalypse Soon? is about environmental decision-making. Stephen Haller examines claims about the risk of global catastrophe and describes the models of global systems that predict catastrophe. He explains the conditions of a good prediction and shows that models that generate predictions of catastrophe leave us uncertain about the likelihood of catastrophe – our best science can give us no assurance that doomsday is either likely or unlikely. Using arguments that parallel those of Blaise Pascal and William James, Haller offers prudential reasons for caution that should convince those not already persuaded by ethical arguments. While models of global systems can reveal only possible, not probable, futures, the catastrophic threats posed by such things as global warming, ozone depletion, or population increase represent what James would call "live options": that is, they present us with a plausible possibility that forces us to make momentous decisions. Haller concludes that we cannot afford to risk catastrophe, despite the high costs this decision involves.

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Inhalt

Introduction
3
PREDICTIONS OF GLOBAL CATASTROPHE BASED
9
What Is a Scientific Model and What Do We Do with One?
25
Direct Tests
33
Two Requirements for Successful Prediction
39
Indirect Tests
53
Dilemmas and Defences
65
Science and Values in Decision
79
Decisionmaking Under Uncertainty and High Risk
87
Democratic Epistemology
114
A Pascalian Argument for Precaution
141
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