Modelling Madness

Complex computer models are continually being used to generate incessant alarms about the future for our environment and resources -- climate, weather, minerals, oil, food, water, pollution and the oceans. Every year the computers get more expensive, and the models more complex, but their doomsday forecasts still fail. Models are simple in principle. They have a formula linking two or more variables, such as rainfall in a catchment area and the water level in a dam. The model can tell us that 200mm of rain will fill the dam. But a few failed forecasts will result in a more complex model that tries to take account of obvious complicating factors such as ground cover in the catchment area and the rate of precipitation. Then more rainfall recording stations will be needed, and more complicating factors will be identified . . . needing a bigger computer. Imagine the complexity of a mathematical model designed to forecast something as simple as next Wednesday’s weather in...(Read Full Post)