Environmentalists need to think more like engineers and statisticians

This item appeared recently in The Economist's Bagehot column:
Political commentators, in other words, have concerned themselves with what will happen; what has happened; and what should happen. Few have addressed what is happening—that is, whether policies work and how the country is changing.
The author was talking about the state of political commentary, but the insight made me think of environmental watchdogs like the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Environment Maryland.

Such groups tend to operate in their heads, theorizing and dreaming about laws, politics and programs. They really should spend more time thinking like pragmatic engineers and creative statisticians.

They should also keep one foot in the real measurable world by putting more effort into improving monitoring methods, collecting new data and finding better ways to analyze it and present it.

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