The Plague of Models: How Computer Modeling Corrupted Environmental, Health and Safety Regulations

· Fullerene Publishing Inc.

About this ebook

Sometimes, reading the news, it seems we are drowning in a sea of risks. Every day, dozens of news articles proclaim some activity, some exposure, some change in the environment exposes us to new and terrifying risks. And every day, governments in developed countries pop out regulations to ensure that we make those changes in behavior to address those supposed risks, whether we want to or not. 

You probably think such claims, and regulation of risk are backed up by something resembling actual real-world evidence of harm. You probably assume that governments, when regulating, are relying on hard data: physical observations of exposures to a potential harm, physical measurements of harms that result from exposure, and that sort of thing.

But if you assume that, you are probably wrong. Since the computer revolution of the 1970s, actual hard evidence of risk have been replaced, both in the estimation of risks, and in the regulation of risks, with computer models - simulations of reality - that may have little or no relation to the actual reality in which actual people live.

This book is about the influence of computer risk-modeling on public policy, specifically, the giant gushing fountain of EHS regulations that have poured forth since the 1970s. That shift to simulation of risk has led to a massive increase in regulation: a Plague of Regulation that rests on the Plague of Models.

About the author

Growing up in smoggy Los Angeles, Ken developed an interest in air pollution early, when at the tender age of 13, he collapsed with an asthma attack while running a lap around his middle-school-running track. Ken would go on from that experience to study general biology, molecular biology, and environmental science and engineering, with a goal toward remediating the environmental problems he encountered so memorably in his youth. 

But over the course of his academic career, Ken observed that bad environmental, health, and safety regulations seemed to vastly outnumber good ones. Many of the highest profile environmental regulations Ken studied seemed to be grounded in shoddy science; were coercive and indifferent to individual rights; often involved cronyism and expansionist government; and, adding insult to injury, were often inefficient or entirely ineffective at remediating some actual environmental, health, or safety harm.

Ken’s academic career progressed through a Bachelor of Science degree in general biology, through a Master of Science degree in molecular genetics, and then onto a doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering at UCLA (1994). After college Ken went to work studying risk and regulation in the areas of Environmental, Health, and Safety in the United States and Canada, at a series of think tanks including the American Enterprise Institute, the Reason Foundation, the Pacific Research Institute, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, the Fraser Institute (Canada), and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy Research (Canada). 

Ken has published well over 800 essays and articles on public policy and regulations through a variety of think tanks, and in newspapers, technical and trade journals, and innumerable internet-based publications across North America.

Having lived in California, Texas, Virginia, British Columbia, and Alberta, Ken now lives in the Mojave Desert in Southern Nevada with his wife of 25 years by his side.

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