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Overcoming the Open System Problem in Local Industrial Ecological Analysis

Authors
Disciplines
  • Communication
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography

Abstract

Many environmental decisions must be made within places, such as cities, which are embedded in larger environmental and economic systems. The locally open character of these systems poses severe problems for advocates of the industrial ecology perspective, who pursue system-wide analysis and integrative, big-picture insights. This paper evaluates four strategies for overcoming the open system problem by applying them to Trenton, New Jersey. It finds that population-based impact analysis is easy but often lacks accuracy, comparative analysis often restates the obvious and is vulnerable to missing data, spatial analysis communicates well but currently lacks dynamism, multi-level analysis is difficult to explain but provides the richest insights and greatest adaptability, and local decision makers want specific rather than general insights.

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