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4. Second Of The Tripod: Uncertainty

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Chapter Summary

Uncertainty, that is, the absence of certainty, continues to mar planning and decision-making at every level, especially where the environment is in issue. Uncertainty can be due as well to systemic indeterminacy, to the variability and complexity of nature, which are as hallucinatory as the vapours rising from the fissure below Apollo's tripod in the heyday of the oracle of Delphi. There is thus uncertainty that can be overcome and uncertainty that cannot, although in individual instances it can be difficult beforehand to tell - which kind one is looking at. In terms of risk, the general term 'uncertainty' encompasses situations of quantifiable risk, whereby both gravity and likelihood of an anticipated environmental impact can be more or less reliably expressed in numbers; uncertainty proper, whereby this can only be done with respect to gravity; and ignorance, where neither gravity nor probability can be quantified.

Keywords: oracle of Delphi; Tripod

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