The Mathematics of Global Change

Kurt Kreith


This paper is a descriptive and preliminary report on recent efforts to address two questions: 1) Can school mathematics be used to enhance our students' ability to understand their changing world? and 2) What role might computer technology play in this regard? After recounting some of the mathematical tools that led to a better understanding of celestial change, an analogous approach is used to address terrestrial change here on earth. This involves an incisive look at Fibonacci's rabbit problem and leads to the consideration of “a Copernican metaphor,” one in which efforts to address environmental issues are related to the transition from a geocentric to heliocentric model of the solar system.

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