Cover Image

HARDBACK
$74.95



View/Hide Left Panel

were originally collected for other purposes. When basing assessments on existing data, analysts do not have the kind of control over factors such as data quality that they would if a new data collection effort were undertaken. In spite of these shortcomings, time and resource constraints frequently dictate the use of existing data. Various assumptions, models, and extrapolations are then applied in an effort to ''adjust" the data so they can be used in a new assessment context (see, for example, Kineman5).6 The USEPA has developed a draft proposal for a process to be used in selecting environmental indicators for a variety of purposes (policy development, program assessment, state of the environment, etc.). See Appendix A.

As discussed earlier, it is the state of the environment (SOE) that provides the most direct measure of environmental quality. Unfortunately, the U.S. does not collect a lot of data that will allow for easy development of SOE indicators. Tables 14 attempt to provide a comprehensive listing of State measures organized via the PSR/E model. Although the listings are not inclusive of all possible measures, they provide the focus necessary to define a "core" set of quality measures that can provide some assessment of the state of the environment in the context of the model.

As you can see from the tables, there is potentially a large number of indicators that one would want to have to make an overall assessment of environmental quality. It is critical that a core set be defined: a set of indicators that will provide decision-makers and the public with the baseline information they need to manage the environment, and at the same time not bankrupt the system. Environmental

Table 1 State of the Environment—Global Ecosystem

Valued Environmental Attributes (VEAs)

Stability of global climate: atmospheric composition, temperature, precipitation patterns, storms, droughts, ocean currents

Integrity of the stratospheric ozone layer

Global scale genetic and species diversity

Global environmental diversity

Biogeochemical cycling (and storage) of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements

Energy fixation/primary productivity

Topsoil quantity and quality

Management of species migration

Environmental Conditions and Changes of Human and Natural Origin

Atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases; ozone depleting substances

Global temperature

Global habitat alteration and destruction, including deforestation

Global levels of soil erosion/degradation

Globally transported pollutants in air or water (e.g., to polar regions)

Global changes in species occurrence and distribution

Proliferation of introduced (non-native) species



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement