Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Global Warming & Modeling

It is clear that something is happening with cllimate. It is fairly clear that humans have something to do with it. It also is clear that the less crud people put into the environment the better. But Al Gore's certainty of apocalypse aside, it is not at all clear what is going to happen in the future. That's because the predictions are done by people and those people use computers. Remember the infamous Club of Rome's computer-based predictions of apocalypse from 1972's "The Limits to Growth." Some very basic modeling precepts were overlooked. In an article in the August 18 issue, "Gambling on Tomorrow," The Economist reminds us of the complexities of modeling. For the lay reader, the article is a bit challenging. But, basically, how variables for the model are chosen has a lot to do with the outcome. The Economist concludes, "As the old saw has it, garbage in, garbage out. The difficulty comes when you do not know what the garbage looks like."

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