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

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:


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, 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.

Synopsis:

Writing for the general, nonmathematician reader and using examples from throughout the environmental sciences, Orrin Pilkey and Linda 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 the extinction of the North Atlantic cod on the Grand Banks of Canada, and then they discuss the limitations of many models across a broad array of crucial environmental subjects. Case studies depict 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 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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780231132121
Author:
Orrin H. Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Author:
Pilkey-Jarvis, Linda
Author:
Pilkey, Orrin H.
Author:
Pilkey-jarvis, Linda
Subject:
Mathematics
Subject:
Ecology
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Subject:
Public Policy - Environmental Policy
Subject:
Ecology -- Mathematical models.
Subject:
Environmental protection -- Decision making.
Subject:
Environmental Studies-Environment
Copyright:
Publication Date:
February 2007
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
230
Dimensions:
9.28x6.32x.85 in. 1.00 lbs.

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Politics » General
Reference » Science Reference » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future Used Hardcover
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Product details 230 pages Columbia University Press - English 9780231132121 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Writing for the general, nonmathematician reader and using examples from throughout the environmental sciences, Orrin Pilkey and Linda 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 the extinction of the North Atlantic cod on the Grand Banks of Canada, and then they discuss the limitations of many models across a broad array of crucial environmental subjects. Case studies depict 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 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.
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