Measurement matters

Toward data-driven environmental policy-making

Authored by: Daniel C. Esty

Routledge Handbook of Sustainability Indicators

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138674769
eBook ISBN: 9781315561103
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315561103-31

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Abstract

Environmental decision-making has long been plagued by uncertainties and incomplete information. Historically, governments, companies, communities, and individuals have lacked the data necessary for thoughtful and systematic action to minimize pollution harms and to optimize the use of natural resources. As a result, choices were made on the basis of generalized observations, average exposures, and best guesses – or worse yet, rhetoric and emotion. But breakthroughs in information technologies now permit a much more careful, quantitative, granular, empirically grounded, and systematic approach to pollution control and natural resource management. This chapter explores why and how better and cheaper data and greater emphasis on statistical analysis promise to strengthen environmental policy-making.

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