Prediction: Science, Decision Making, and the Future of Nature

Prediction: Science, Decision Making, and the Future of Nature

Edited by Daniel Sarewitz, Roger A. Pielke, Jr., and Radford Byerly, Jr.


The idea that predictive science can simplify the decision-making process by creating a clearer picture of the future is deeply appealing in principle, but deeply problematic in practice.

Prediction offers a fascinating and wide-ranging look at the interdependent scientific, political, and social factors involved in using science-based predictions to guide policy making. Through ten detailed case studies, it explores society's efforts to generate reliable scientific information about complex natural systems and to use that information in making sound policy decisions. The book:

  • provides an overview of predictive science from historical, scientific, political, and behavioral perspectives
  • offers case studies of the use and misuse of scientific predictions on subjects ranging from asteroids to nuclear waste disposal
  • proposes a practical analytical framework for the use of predictive science in setting policy
  • recommends actions and policies that can increase the likelihood of effective decisions

Contributors include Clark Chapman, Charles Herrick, William H. Hooke, Orrin Pilkey, Steve Rayner, Naomi Oreskes, Daniel Metlay, Stanley Changnon, Donald Gautier, Robert Moran, Joanne Nigg, and Thomas Stewart.

Prediction is the first book to look at the numerous and varied scientific, social, and political factors involved in making and using predictions relevant to a wide range of current environmental controversies and challenges. It provides much-needed context for understanding predictions and scientific pronouncements, and is an important work for anyone concerned with interactions between science and policy making.