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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

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  30 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
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, n
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Columbia University Press
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Aug 15, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
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
John Bailo
Jul 10, 2008 John Bailo rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in global warming

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We are still living in the age of chaos, as old as that work is and -- wake up -- it has not yet been replaced by anything.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
Jul 27, 2011 John marked it as to-read
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 ...more
May 22, 2009 Gina rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 14, 2013 Stephen rated it it was ok
It was a decent read. Mostly confirmed my previous biases, but an important topic nonetheless.
Jul 27, 2008 Ashley rated it did not like it
could've been so much more
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Orrin H. Pilkey (Ph.D. '62)
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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 ...more
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