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Terms Definitions
Scenario A plausible description of how the future may develop, based on a coherent and internally consistent set of assumptions about key relationships and driving forces (e.g., rate of technology changes, prices). Note that scenarios are neither predictions nor forecasts. The results of scenarios (unlike forecasts) depend on the boundary conditions of the scenario.
Scientific uncertainty One of the seven types of uncertainty distinguished by De Marchi et al. in their checklist for characterizing uncertainty in environmental emergencies: institutional, legal, moral, proprietary, scientific, situational, and societal uncertainty. Scientific uncertainty refers to uncertainty which emanates from the scientific and technical dimensions of a problem as opposed to the legal, moral, societal, institutional, proprietary, and situational dimensions outlined by De Marchi et al. Scientific uncertainty is intrinsic to the processes of risk assessment and forecasting.
Sensitivity analysis Sensitivity analysis is the study of how the uncertainty in the output of a model (numerical or otherwise) can be apportioned to different sources of uncertainty in the model input. From Saltelli (2001).
Situational uncertainty One of the seven types of uncertainty distinguished by De Marchi et al. in their checklist for characterizing uncertainty in environmental emergencies: institutional, legal, moral, proprietary, scientific, situational, and societal uncertainty. Situational uncertainty relates to "the predicament of the person responsible for a crisis, either in the phase of preparation and planning, or of actual emergency. It refers to individual behaviours or personal interventions in crisis situations" (De Marchi, 1994) and as such represents a form of integration over the other six types of uncertainty. That is, it tends to combine the uncertainties one has to face in a given situation or on a particular issue. High situational uncertainty would be characterized by situations where individual decisions play a substantial role and there is uncertainty about the nature of those decisions.
Societal randomness
Societal uncertainty One of the seven types of uncertainty distinguished by De Marchi et al in their checklist for characterizing uncertainty in environmental emergencies: institutional, legal, moral, proprietary, scientific, situational, and societal uncertainty. Communities from one region to another may differ in the set of norms, values, and manner of relating characteristic of their societies. This in turn can result in differences in approach to decision making and assessment. Some salient characteristics of these differences will be different views about the role of consensus versus conflict, on locating responsibility between individuals and larger groups, on views about the legitimacy and role of social and private institutions, and on attitudes to authority and expertise. From De Marchi (1994). Societal uncertainty would typically be high when decisions involve substantial collaboration among groups characterized by divergent decision making styles.
Software error Software error arises from bugs in software, design errors in algorithms, type-errors in model source code, etc. Here we encounter the problem of code verification which is defined as: examination of the numerical technique in the computer code to ascertain that it truly represents the conceptual model and that there are no inherent numerical problems in obtaining a solution (ASTM E 978-84, cited in Beck et al., 1996). If one realizes that some environmental models have hundreds of thousands of lines of source code, errors in it cannot easily be excluded and code verification is difficult to carry out in a systematic manner.
Stakeholders Stakeholders are those actors who are directly or indirectly affected by a issue and who could affect the outcome of a decision making process regarding that issue or are affected by it.
Stochastic In stochastic models (as opposed to deterministic models), the parameters and variables are represented by probability distribution functions. Consequently, the model behavior, performance, or operation is probabilistic.
Structural uncertainty Uncertainty about what the appropriate equations are to correctly represent a given causal relationship.
Structured problems Hoppe and Hisschemöller have defined structured problems as those for which there is a high level of agreement on the relevant knowledge base and a high level of consent on the norms and values associated with the problem. Such problems are thus typically of a more purely technical nature and fall within the category of 'normal' science.
Surprise Surprise occurs when actual outcomes differ sharply from expected ones. However, surprise is a relative term. An event will be surprising or not depending on the expectations and hence point of view of the person considering the event. Surprise is also inevitable if we accept that the world is complex and partially unpredictable, and that individuals, society, and institutions are limited in their cognitive capacities, and possess limited tools and information.
Sustainable development "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of "needs", in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs." (Brundtland Commission, 1987)
 
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