Chapter 14: Environmental accounting and material flow analysis
14. Environmental accounting and material ﬂow analysis Peter Bartelmus ASSESSING SUSTAINABILITY: A PROLIFERATION OF APPROACHES Global warming and depletion of the ozone layer, land degradation by agriculture, industrial and household pollution, depletion of subsoil resources by mining, loss of habitat and biodiversity from deforestation, and desertiﬁcation from grazing semi-arid lands are conspicuous examples of the impacts of economic activity on the environment. They are generally viewed as symptoms of the unsustainability of economic production and consumption, and many indicators have been advanced to conﬁrm this. Table 14.1 shows some indicators taken from a large variety of international sources. They diﬀer widely in concepts and deﬁnitions, scope and coverage, units of measurement, statistical validity and results. There is an obvious need to develop a common conceptual framework as a basis for more systematic data collection and analysis. Table 14.1 Indicator Biomass appropriation of terrestrial ecosystems Climate change Ozone layer depletion Land degradation Indicators of non-sustainability Estimate 40% 1–3.5°C of global warming (2100) 65cm sea level rise (2100) 30–40% decrease of ozone column above Antarctica 11% of vegetated surface degraded (since 1945) 10 million environmental refugees 500 billion tons of topsoil lost (since 1972) 5 million ha of cropland lost annually 70% of agricultural dryland lost 1 ⁄4 of total biodiversity in danger of extinction 5000 to 150 000 species lost annually 16.8 million ha of forest area lost annually 90 years of proved recoverable reserves 243 years of proved reserves in place 800 years...
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