Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
Abstract Assessing the major atmospheric issues – acidic deposition, climatechange, ozone depletion, smog, hazardous airpollutants and suspended particulate matter – together rather than individually provides many advantages. But to be successful, this integration requires a common method for relating theseissues to one another. This is a scientific question.In order to successfully resolve the atmospheric issues (a policy question) requires communication of the relevant science to non-scientists in plain language. Non-scientists need to be part of the development of the structure of the communications vehicle. The objective for multi-issueassessment, and thus for the development of an index to trackthe state of the environment in an integrated way, is of courserelated to the desire to achieve environmentally sustainable development.Sustainability can be represented by a 3-legged stool and is an aptsymbol of the struggle of Canadians to balance their ecological,economic and social needs. Although the environment is the basisof all life, humankind has created society and has defined how thatsociety will function (the economy). The three legs of the stool(ecosystem, economy, society) represent the three parts of the’sustainability‘ balance. The seat of the stool represents the’governance process‘ and the three legs are deeply embedded in thisgovernance process because it is the ’governance‘ which ensures thestability of the system over time. The challenge then is to measure the stability of the ’stool‘ in a waywhich all can understand. This measure of ’sustainability‘ must respondto individual and collective actions which improve or degrade the environment. This paper presents such a framework for a ’sustainability index‘ andoutlines the next steps that need to be taken.The framework starts from the premise that ecosystem, economy andsociety are equal parts of ’sustainability‘. Ecosystem indices arerepresentative measures of the state of the environment while economicindices are representative measures of the state of the economy. Socialindices in some way have to measure the state of society. The trick,for a successful sustainability index, will be to ensure that the importantaspects of the ecosystem, the economy and society, are included. The overall index must berelatively stable but must be responsive to changes.
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