Science Inventory

Development and Application of Multidisciplinary Sustainability Metrics to Environmental Management in the San Luis Basin in Colorado at AESS

Citation:

CABEZAS, H., M. HOPTON, D. Campbell, T. EASON, AND A. GARMESTANI. Development and Application of Multidisciplinary Sustainability Metrics to Environmental Management in the San Luis Basin in Colorado at AESS. Presented at 2009 AESS (Association of Environmental Studies and Science), Madison, WI, October 02 - 11, 2009.

Impact/Purpose:

To inform the public.

Description:

A pilot project was initiated to create an approach to measure, monitor, and maintain prosperity and environmental quality within a regional system. The goal was to produce a scientifically defensible but straightforward and inexpensive methodology that is simple to use and interpret. The actual application to the San Luis Basin in Colorado required historical data that is readily accessible, metrics that are applicable to the relevant scale, and results that meet the needs of decision-makers. The multidisciplinary research team included ecologists, engineers, economists, geographers, and lawyers. The metrics represent major components of the environmental system relevant to sustainability. Thus, the following metrics were selected: 1) emergy to capture the quality-normalized flow of energy through the system; 2) ecological footprint to capture the impact and human burden on the system; 3) green net regional product to estimate economic prosperity and well-being; and 4) Fisher information to capture the overall dynamic order and to look for possible regime changes. We successfully computed the metrics for the San Luis Basin region as a function of time using existing data sets for the period 1985 to 2005. Analysis indicated that each metric reveals a somewhat different trend, but the overall the system was not moving away from sustainability. These findings support the idea that characterization of sustainability requires a multidisciplinary approach and multiple metrics. Efforts are underway to transfer the methodology to a public institution to create the institutional framework for using metrics of sustainability in regional environmental management.

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 10/02/2009
Record Last Revised: 03/26/2010
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 219244

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY

SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION

SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS BRANCH