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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 1999. Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5147.
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Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition

Peter C. Schulze, Editor

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1999

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 1999. Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5147.
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NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

This volume has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a National Academy of Engineering report review process. The interpretations and conclusions expressed in the papers are those of the authors and are not presented as the views of the council, officers, or staff of the National Academy of Engineering.

Funding for the activity that led to this publication was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering Technology Agenda Program.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Measures of environmental performance and ecosystem condition / edited by Peter C. Schulze / National Academy of Engineering.

p. cm

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-309-05441-9

1. Environmental indicators. 2. Environmental management—Evaluation. 3. Environmental monitoring—Methodology. 4. Nature—Influence of human beings on—Evaluation. I. Schulze, Peter C. II. National Academy of Engineering.

GE140 .M43 1998

363.7′063—dc21 98-43781

Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Cover: George Inness. The Lackawanna Valley (detail), 1856. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art. Gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 1999. Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5147.
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PREFACE

Like all other species, humans impact their environment. The scale of human impacts has grown as a result of population growth and increased consumption of goods and services. At the same time, our understanding of the environmental consequences of human activities has improved.

Decades ago, attention focused mainly on clear-cut, obvious environmental insults: deadly chemical fogs, burning rivers, and eutrophic lakes. Today, scientists and the public are paying more attention to less apparent impacts such as stratospheric ozone depletion, greenhouse gas emissions, bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals, and the disappearance of unfamiliar or even unknown species.

This broadening appreciation for less obvious but still significant environmental impacts has elevated the importance of methods for detecting and measuring substances known to affect the health of the environment. Currently, dozens of measurement techniques are in relatively early stages of development or adoption. Some are intended to help study the condition of an ecosystem; others are designed for comparing the impact of alternative human activities.

The two categories of metrics have been developed by two cadres of professionals: those focused on assessing the condition of ecosystems and those interested in assessing environmental impacts associated with particular activities or products. Although these two groups play complementary, closely related roles, they have traditionally had little interaction.

The papers in this volume are the product of a 1994 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) workshop. The workshop was intended to promote interaction, coordination, and cross-fertilization between those who assess and manage the condition of ecosystems and those who assess and manage the environmental performance of institutions. The papers were contributed by engineers, ecolo-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 1999. Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5147.
×

gists, managers, and academics. Each discusses a particular approach either for assessing the condition of ecosystems or for assessing environmental performance. This volume does not attempt to present a comprehensive review of the multitude of assessment techniques presently under development. Rather, it provides an introduction to these two closely related fields by highlighting key features of some of the more prominent approaches.

The idea for the workshop grew out of discussions among NAE member Robert A. Frosch, who chaired the workshop, former NAE Program Office Director Bruce Guile, former NAE Fellow Peter Schulze, and Deanna Richards, who directs the NAE program on Technology and Environment (T&E). This volume and the workshop are components of NAE's ongoing initiative to explore issues of technology and the environment. We are indebted to the authors for their excellent contributions and to an editorial team composed of Peter Schulze, Greg Pearson, Penny Gibbs, Long Nguyen, and Jessica Blake. Peter Schulze was also assisted at Austin College by the careful work of Stephanie Hinds, Lanell Tweddle, and Amberly Zijewski.

Finally, I thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its generous support of the NAE's Technology and Environment program. This funding was critical to the success of the workshop and the completion of this report.

WM. A. WULF

PRESIDENT

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 1999. Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5147.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 1999. Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5147.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 1999. Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5147.
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When Cleveland's Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, no environmental measurements were necessary to know the seriousness of the problem. Incidents like the Cuyahoga fire raise an important question: Can catastrophes-in-the-making be detected early enough to be prevented? For those in industry, such disasters point to the need for measures that can improve the environmental performance of processes, products, business practices, and linked industrial systems.

In Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition, experts share their insights on environmental metrics. The volume explores the most productive relationship between measures of environmental performance and measures of ecosystem conditions. It reviews current approaches, evaluates structures for business decisionmaking, and includes a matrix for determining the environmental performance of industrial facilities. Case studies include:

  • Development and application of a water-quality rating scheme for streams and reservoirs in the Tennessee Valley.
  • Three years of successful experience with waste metrics at 3M.

The book covers the range of environmental performance and condition metrics, from the use of material flow data to monitor environmental performance at the national level to the use of bioassays to measure the toxicity of industrial effluents.

This book offers something for everyone--policymakers, executives, engineers, managers, and advocates--with a stake in the measurement of environmental performance and ecological conditions.

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