Environmental Impact: Part 1-Development of a Semi-quantitative Parameter and its Implications

Peter Newman

DOI: 10.2190/RDV0-UP1K-68XD-AH85


A model is presented in which the multiple causes of damage to the environment by human activities are reduced into one easily calculated semi-quantitative parameter. This is achieved by understanding an ecosystem disturbance in terms of its energy and material flows and super-imposing on it the activities of man due to imported or exotic energy (food and fuel). Environmental Impact (I) is defined as Exotic energy use (E)/Area of environment (A) ; this is developed to show that I = E/P X P/A, where P = population, in order to show the two fundamental interrelated components of environmental damage as exotic energy use per capita and population density. Broad implications of the model are discussed including misconceptions about the value of energy-intensive pollution technology and alternative energy sources, and the meaning of energy conservation based on this model is developed. Calculations using the model are presented in a second paper.

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