Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Columbia Journal of Environmental Law
Government agencies and academic scientists have developed reliable sets of environmental indicators to assist in making decisions. This very recent trend has been driven in part by scientific advances that make it possible to construct indicators that are both rigorous and informative, and in part by policies that seek to justify environmental expenditures as likely to produce the beneficial results that they intend. Environmental indicators offer the promise of applying science to help decisionmakers select tools that will produce predictable outcomes in measurable ways. In this article we examine a specific element of the emerging environmental indicator model: the connection of the indicator with the decisionmaker. Although most research programs have assumed that if indicators are scientifically valid, public decisionmakers will use them to make better decisions, this assumption is not always justified.
McElfish, James M. Jr. and Varnell, Lyle M., Designing Environmental Indicator Systems for Public Decisions (2006). Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, 31(1), 45-86.