This paper addresses the question of what policies are most appropriate for society now, given alternative visions of the future and the enormous uncertainty about the reality of the assumptions underlying these visions. Four specific visions are laid out as being representative of the major alternatives. For each vision the benefits of achieving the vision, the assumptions that would have to be true in order for it to be achieved, and the implications of it being attempted but not achieved are explored. It is argued that dealing with uncertainty about the nature of the world, its carrying capacity for humans, the impacts of climate change, and other aspects of its future can best be done at this level of future visions and assumptions, not at more detailed levels (like the parameter uncertainty in models). Application of this vision/uncertainty analysis can help us both to design the future society we want and to maximize the chances of our getting there safely.
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