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To Err is Human: Pondering the Undoing of Human-Induced Climate Change

Chris A. B. Zajchowski, Daniel L. Dustin, Matthew T. J. Brownlee


In this paper we examine how park and protected area managers and scholars might respond to the attempted undoing of human-induced climate change. Drawing from Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project (2017), we proceed from the assumption that we humans are prone to make mistakes in our assessments of what is and what is not the case when reaching conclusions about complex environmental problems. We reason further that the consequences of making certain kinds of mistakes should be taken into account when shaping management policy, specifically surrounding climate change. We then illustrate how Type 1 and Type 2 errors might serve as useful lenses to better envision how to manage risk in times of uncertainty by applying them to the real or imagined nature of human-induced climate change. We also consider the likely consequences of making Type 1 and Type 2 errors regarding climate change decision-making. Finally, we discuss what we believe is the preferred error to make when thinking about human-induced climate change with regard to the management of parks and protected areas, as well as the implications for individuals and society at large. In so doing, we turn what is commonly referred to as ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ thinking inside out, and leave the reader with the question of just who are the conservatives and who are the liberals when thinking about the prospect of undoing human-induced climate change.

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climate change; decision-making; park and protected area management; precautionary principle; Type 1 and Type 2 errors

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