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To believe that environmental goals are achieved, there would need to be indicators of progress, milestones would have to be established (which might more nearly be political than scientific), and an agreed on means of measuring progress would have to be put in place. In many cases—as with the questions of sustainable rates of consumption—the absolute end point of success might never be achieved in fact, in which case measurable progress toward that end point becomes important.

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problems in search of scientific solutions with scientific solutions in search of societal problems in a highly complex mutually reinforcing system.

The advance of conceptual, curiosity-driven research is likely to turn up new options for solving problems in the future that we cannot even imagine in the light of today's knowledge. The annual and cumulative costs of future options are sensitive to the time scale on which the options are implemented. The cost-timing problem is complicated by the existence of benefits of learning by doing: slow implementation provides more opportunity for learning from experience and so for lowering costs over time, and it provides time for R&D, which can reveal more efficient and less-expensive, technological and management-response options.

One needs to adopt the same approach to environmental improvement that has now been widely adopted in total quality management (TQM) and product and process improvement in general. One needs a dynamic system of continuous evolutionary improvement, not simply fixed end points. There is now considerable experience to demonstrate synergy between environmental improvement and product and process improvements that generate continuous gains in product value and continuous improvement in both labor and capital productivity in manufacturing or operations (in the case of services). The growing opportunities for exploitation of information technology made possible by its constantly declining cost and increasing capability present a theoretical opportunity for a much more dynamic and evolutionary approach to both product and process innovation. The potential for this idea has recently been put forward in considerable detail by Richard Florida, of Carnegie Mellon University, in a paper entitled The Environment

A systems approach would establish definable, measurable, results-oriented indicators of progress toward goals. With such a system, attempted solutions would be evaluated against these indicators and rejected unless measurable progress were demonstrated. It is unlikely that any goals would be "achieved." However, a standard of continual improvement could be workable.

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