Gilbert F. White - Vita

A flood insurance program is a tool that should be used expertly or not at all. Correctly applied, it could promote wise use of flood plains. Incorrectly applied, it could exacerbate the whole problem of flood losses. For the Federal Government to subsidize low premium disaster insurance or provide insurance in which premiums are not proportionate to risk would be to invite economic waste of great magnitude. —GFW

Gilbert White, 1995

Born November 26, 1911

S.B., S.M., Ph.D., University of Chicago

Geographer with the Mississippi Valley Committee, National Resources Committee, and National Resources Planning Board, 1934-1940
Staff Member, Bureau of the Budget, Executive Office of the President, 1940-1942
Conscientious objector to military service, American Friends Service Committee: France, Germany, and U.S., 1942-1946
President, Haverford College, 1946-1955
Professor of Geography, University of Chicago, 1956-1969
Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, 1962-1963
Professor of Geography and Director, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, 1970-1978
Director, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, 1976-1984; 1992-1994
Gustavson Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Geography, 1980-2006
Member, Hoover Commission Task Force on Natural Resources, 1948
Vice Chair, President's Water Resources Policy Commission, 1950
Chair, various Quaker Conferences for Diplomats, 1952-1997
Member, UNESCO Advisory Committee on Arid Zone Research, 1953-1956
Chair, United Nations Panel on Integrated River Development, 1957-1958
President, Association of American Geographers, 1961-1962
Advisor, Youth Corps Study, International Cooperation Administration, 1961
Consultant, Lower Mekong Coordinating Committee, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, 1961-1962, 1970
Chair, American Friends Service Committee, 1963-1969
Member, Special National Science Foundation Commission on Weather Modification, 1964-1965
Chair, Bureau of Budget Task Force on Federal Flood Policy, 1965-1966
Chair, Committee on Water, National Research Council, 1964-1968
Chair, Steering Committee for High School Geography Project, Association of American Geographers, 1964-1970
Member, UNESCO Advisory Committee on Natural Resource Research, 1967-1971
Member, Advisory Committee on Environmental Science, National Science Foundation, 1968-1971
Scientific Advisor on Man-made Lakes to Administrator of United Nations Development Programme, 1966-1971
Chair, Commission on Man and Environment, International Geographical Union, 1969-1976
Member, Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, International Council of Scientific Unions, 1970-2006 (President, 1976-1982)
Consultant, National Water Commission, 1971-1973
Chair, Advisory Board, Ford Energy Policy Project, 1972-1974
Chair, International Environmental Programs Committee, National Research Council, 1972-1976
Chair, Environmental Studies Board, National Research Council, 1975-1977
Chair, Commission on Natural Resources, National Research Council, 1977-1980
Member, Technology Assessment Advisory Council, U.S. Congress, 1973-1975
Member, Earthquake Studies Advisory Panel, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1973-1976
Trustee, Resources for the Future, 1967-79 (Chair, 1974-1979)
Consultant, Water Quality Studies on Nile-Lake Nasser, 1975-1979
Member, Joint Consultative Committee, Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology-U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1978-1986 (Chair, 1980-1986)
Member, Steering Committee on Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War, Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, 1983-1988
An Executive Editor, Environment, 1983-1992
Member, Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases-World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and International Council of Scientific Unions, 1986-1990
Chair, State of Nevada Technical Review Committee on Socio-Economic Effects of Nuclear Waste Disposal, 1986-1993
Member, Advisory Group on Water, United Nations Environment Programme, 1987-1993, Chair, Aral Sea Basin Diagnostic Panel, 1990-1993
Member, Advisory Committee on Environment, International Council of Scientific Unions, 1989-1996
Member, Committee on Technical Bases for Yucca Mountain Standards, National Research Council, 1993-1995
Member, U.S. National Committee for Man and Biosphere (MAB), 1989-1992, Ad hoc special commission on U.S. MAB, 1994-1995
Member, National Forum on Nonpoint Source Pollution, National Geographic Society and Conservation Fund, 1993-1995
Member, Board on Natural Disasters, National Research Council, 1994-1997
Chair, Advisory Panel on Reducing Earthquake Losses, Office of Technology Assessment, 1994
Vice Chair, Steering Committee, Human Dimensions Program, International Social Sciences Council, 1994-1995
Chair, Committee on Sustainable Water Supplies for the Middle East, National Research Council, 1996-1999
Member, Committee on Flood Loss Data, Federal Emergency Management Agency/National Institute of Building Sciences, 1997-2006
Member, Steering Committee for Heinz Center on Coastal Erosion, 1997-2000
Member, Steering Committee for Evaluation of National Flood Insurance Program, 2001-2006



Human Adjustment to Floods, Chicago: University of Chicago Department of Geography, Research Paper No. 29, 1942, published 1945. ~ Download PDF

(Editor) The Future of Arid Lands, Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1956.
(With the committee) Integrated River Basin Development, New York: United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs, 1958 (revised 1970).
Science and the Future of Arid Lands, Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1960.
(With Egbert de Vries, Harold B. Dunkerley, and John V. Krutilla) Economic and Social Aspects of Lower Mekong Development: A Report to the Committee for Coordination of Investigations of the Lower Mekong Basin, January, 1962.
Social and Economic Aspects of Natural Resources: A Report to the Committee on Natural Resources, Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, Publication 1000-G, 1962.
Choice of Adjustment to Floods, Chicago: University of Chicago, Department of Geography, Research Paper No. 93, 1964.
(Joint Author) A Unified National Program for Managing Flood Losses: A Report by the Task Force on Federal Flood Control Policy, Washington, DC: 89th Congress, second session, House Document 465, 1966.
"Vietnam: The Fourth Course," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 20 (10): 6-10, 1966.
Strategies of American Water Management, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.
(Editor) Water, Health and Society: Selected Writings of Abel Wolman, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969.
(With David J. Bradley and Anne U. White) Drawers of Water: Domestic Water Use in East Africa, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.
(Joint Editor) Man-made Lakes: Their Problems and Environmental Effects, Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union, 1973.
(Editor) Natural Hazards: Local, National and Global, New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
(With J. Eugene Haas) Assessment of Research on Natural Hazards, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1975.
(With others) Flood Hazard in the United States: A Research Assessment, Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado, Institute of Behavioral Science, 1975.
(Joint Editor) Environmental Issues, London: John Wiley, 1977.
(With Ian Burton and Robert W. Kates) The Environment as Hazard, New York: Oxford University Press, 1977; revised edition, Guilford Press, 1993.
(Editor) Environmental Effects of Complex River Development, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1977.
Water Supply for the Urban Poor: Issues, Washington, DC: World Bank, 1978.
(Editor, with Martin Holdgate and Mohamed Kassas) The World Environment, 1972-1982: A Report by the United Nations Environment Programme, Dublin: Tycooly International Publishing, 1982.
(Editor, with Julius London) The Environmental Effects of Nuclear War, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984.
Geography, Resources, and Environment, Volume I, Selected Writings of Gilbert F. White, R.W. Kates and I. Burton, Editors, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.
"A Century of Change in World Water Management," Earth '88: Proceedings of the Centennial Symposium, Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1988.
"The Environmental Effects of the High Dam at Aswan," Environment 30 (7):4-11, 34-40, 1988.
(With Mark I. L'vovich) "Use and Transformation of Terrestrial Water Systems," The Earth as Transformed by Human Action, B.L. Turner II et al., Editors, pp. 235-252, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
"Greenhouse Gases, Nile Snails, and Human Choice," Perspectives on Behavioral Science: The Colorado Lectures, Richard Jessor, Editor, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1991.
(With others) Action Agenda for Managing the Nation's Floodplains-Review of Floodplain Management in the United States: An Assessment Report, Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado, Institute of Behavioral Science, 1992.
(With others) "Socioeconomic Studies of High-level Nuclear Waste Disposal," Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences 291:10786-89, 1994.
"Reflections on Changing Perceptions of the Earth," Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 19:1-13, 1994.
(With others) "Nuclear Waste's Human Dimensions," Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy 9 (3):91-97, 1994.
"Emerging Issues in Global Environmental Policy," Ambio 25 (1):58-60, 1996.
"Reflections on the 50-year International Search for Integrated Water Management," Water Policy 1:21-27, 1998.
(With others) Water for the Future: The West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and Jordan, Washington, DC: National Research Council, 1999.
"Two Challenges to Geographic Research for Water Management," Proceedings of Russian Academy of Sciences 5:11-16, 2001 (in Russian).
"Two-year Review of Flood Insurance Underway," The Open Channel 12 (5):1, 2001.
"Floodplain," The Environment Encyclopedia, Volume 4, pp. 512-51, Eblen and Eblen (Editors), Tarrytown, New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2000.
(With Ian Burton and Robert W. Kates) "Knowing Better and Losing Even More: The Use of Knowledge in Hazards Management," Environmental Hazards 3:81-92, 2001.
(With David J. Bradley) "Preface" to Drawers of Water II, J. Thompson et al., pp. vi-ix, London, U.K.: International Institute for Environment and Development, 2001.
"Autobiographical Essay," Geographical Voices, Peter Gould and Forrest Pitts, Editors, pp. 341-64, Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2002.
(With James L. Wescoat) Water for Life: Water Management and Environmental Policy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.