Response to discussion by Ertsen on Westerberg et al. “Perceptual models of uncertainty for socio-hydrological systems".

Ertsen discusses the representation of reality and uncertainty in our paper, raising three critical points. In response to the first, we agree that discussion of different interpretations of the concept of uncertainty is important when developing perceptual models – making different uncertainty interpretations explicit was a key motivation behind our method. Secondly, we do not, as Ertsen suggests, deny anyone who is not a “certified” scientist to have relevant knowledge. The elicitation of diverse views by discussing perceptual models is a basis for open discussion and decision making. Thirdly, Ertsen suggests that it is not useful to treat socio-hydrological systems as if they exist. We argue that we act as “pragmatic realists” in most practical applications by treating socio-hydrological systems as an external reality that can be known. But the uncertainty that arises from our knowledge limitations needs to be recognized, as it may impact on practical decision making and associated costs.

Subscribe to our newsletter