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Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future

Useless Arithmetic Why Environmental Scientists Can t Predict the Future Noted coastal geologist Orrin Pilkey and environmental scientist Linda Pilkey Jarvis show that the quantitative mathematical models policy makers and government administrators use to form environmenta

  • Title: Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future
  • Author: Orrin H. Pilkey
  • ISBN: 9780231132121
  • Page: 340
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Noted coastal geologist Orrin Pilkey and environmental scientist Linda Pilkey Jarvis show that the quantitative mathematical models policy makers and government administrators use to form environmental policies are seriously flawed Based on unrealistic and sometimes false assumptions, these models often yield answers that support unwise policies.Writing for the general, nNoted coastal geologist Orrin Pilkey and environmental scientist Linda Pilkey Jarvis show that the quantitative mathematical models policy makers and government administrators use to form environmental policies are seriously flawed Based on unrealistic and sometimes false assumptions, these models often yield answers that support unwise policies.Writing for the general, nonmathematician reader and using examples from throughout the environmental sciences, Pilkey and Pilkey Jarvis show how unquestioned faith in mathematical models can blind us to the hard data and sound judgment of experienced scientific fieldwork They begin with a riveting account of the extinction of the North Atlantic cod on the Grand Banks of Canada Next they engage in a general discussion of the limitations of many models across a broad array of crucial environmental subjects.The book offers fascinating case studies depicting how the seductiveness of quantitative models has led to unmanageable nuclear waste disposal practices, poisoned mining sites, unjustifiable faith in predicted sea level rise rates, bad predictions of future shoreline erosion rates, overoptimistic cost estimates of artificial beaches, and a host of other thorny problems The authors demonstrate how many modelers have been reckless, employing fudge factors to assure correct answers and caring little if their models actually worked.A timely and urgent book written in an engaging style, Useless Arithmetic evaluates the assumptions behind models, the nature of the field data, and the dialogue between modelers and their customers.

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      Published :2019-05-22T09:32:48+00:00

    About "Orrin H. Pilkey"

    1. Orrin H. Pilkey

      Orrin H Pilkey is James B Duke Professor Emeritus of Geology at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and Founder and Director Emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, based at Western Carolina University Pilkey has written and edited many books, including, most recently, with Rob Young The Rising Sea and with Linda Pilkey Jarvis Useless Arithmetic, an indictment of mathematical models used to predict environmental change He is the author or co author of many books in the Living with the Shore book series that he co edited for Duke University Press Pilkey is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Francis Shepard Medal for excellence in Marine Geology, the Priestley Award for distinguished contributions to environmental science, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Coastal Federation, and the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Pilkey lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

    976 Comments

    1. Government administrators and policy makers use quantitative mathematical models to form future environmental policies. The authors of this book assert that these models are basically useless, that they lead to policies that make things worse, not better.These models are filled with assumptions, suppositions and several pure guesses. "Fudge factors" are included to come up with an acceptable answer. Politics is frequently involved. An example is when the Canadian government said that the Grand B [...]


    2. I didn't so much learn from this book as I confirmed. Even though much of our society is run (or justified) by analytical computer models, anyone who has been to college in the last 30 years knows that they simply do not work.We are still living in the age of chaos, as old as that work is and -- wake up -- it has not yet been replaced by anything.After starting the 20th century with a bold vision to turn all of our actions into algorithmically predictable statements ( Russell and Whitehead) the [...]


    3. A thoughtful book about mathematical modeling in the social and environmental fields, and its potential limitations. In some areas, the authors argue, very simple models have achieved an almost sacrosanct status, even when they seem to have led to inappropriate or even disastrous policy decisions. In other areas, modelers are much more upfront about potential sources of error. So far, so good - but what on earth do the authors mean by their preferrred alternative, "qualitative mathematical model [...]


    4. Essential reading for anyone interested in environmental modeling. Written in highly accessible fashion, the book details the problems with quantitative modeling as applied to complex systems. Also serves as a primer to major concepts in contemporary ecosystems science and policy.





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