Measuring Environmental Degradation
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Measuring Environmental Degradation

Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe

Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale

Measuring Environmental Degradation is a unique book that provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the key issues of environmental significance addressed as part of the Eurostat ‘Environmental Pressure Indicators Project’. The book is part of the ‘Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU’ (TEPI) series that has resulted from the project.
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Chapter 33: Water pollution and water resources

J.S. Davis and K. Lanz


J.S. Davis and K. Lanz 1. INTRODUCTION Indicators are finding increasing use as an aid in evaluating our impacts upon nature. They can be particularly helpful when dealing with those impacts, the complexity of which hinders an overview as to cause and effect. In these cases, representative parameters can not only point out critical issues, but also help us determine the direction of change with respect to these issues. Good indicators, however, go beyond raising awareness and showing direction. By promoting cooperation among individuals, institutes, businesses and officials, they can also contribute to steps in the appropriate direction. To further this cooperation of citizens, whether in their personal or professional lives, a selection of indicators should include, in addition to ‘official’ indicators, those which are readily understood and easily measurable by members of the communities or regions faced with the problems. This point is of essential relevance for the growing discussion on sustainable resource use. Most of the changes necessary for the reduction of resource consumption and of environmental pollution demand immediate attention from us all. They cannot be postponed until governments have taken ‘topdown’ measures such as legal steps, or created financial incentives to encourage appropriate behaviour. Indicators can play a key role in speeding up changes through ‘bottom-up’ processes, by informing and motivating people at many levels to cooperate on measuring issues of concern, and by furthering activities which help their selected indicators to move in the right direction. This type of cooperative commitment and the...

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