Course:ENVS 3991/Topic 1

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Aesthetics of Forested Landscapes

The term “aesthetics of forested landscapes” refers to an area often investigated as part of social psychology and by social scientists. As a part of ecological sustainability, the study of the aesthetics of forested landscapes is a perception based concept, as aesthetics refers to a perceptual quality of what is defined as a scenic landscape. Landscape refers to, in an architectural perspective, the visual characteristics of the environment, and to foresters, as the scale between the forest and the region. Social psychologists will use attitudinal and value based research to understand what respondents view as scenic beauty, and what impact human and natural interactions have on the aesthetics of the environment.

Real world examples:

The BC Ministry of Forests has set guidelines for forestry, including the aesthetics of forested areas, and mandates for sustainability. These mandates would include the requirement to re-plant trees in clear-cut areas, for both environmentally sustainable reasons, and to keep up the aesthetic appearances of such regions.

People often will protest the changes to forested regions which will destroy them and ruin the aesthetic of a wilderness and forested regions, such as the Claoquot Sound protest in 1993.


Bogaert J. 2002. Forests and landscapes—linking ecology, sustainability and aesthetics. Landscape and Urban Planning [Internet]. [cited 2013 Jan 01] 59(2):125-127. Available from:

Haider W, Morford S. 2004. Relevance of social science to the management of natural resources in British Columbia. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management, 4 (1).

Nohl W. 2001. Sustainable landscape use and aesthetic perception–preliminary reflections on future landscape aesthetics. Landscape and Urban Planning, 54(1): 223-237.

Wikipedia contributors. Clayoquot protests [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2014 Jan 5, 04:00 UTC [cited 2014 Jan 6]. Available from:

Attitudinal or Value Research

Attitudinal or value research seeks to gain, through quantitative and qualitative research, the perspectives of the public or study group, in order to understand and ascertain the values and opinions of those studied. This attitude research is done frequently by social scientists to understand the motivations of the respondents and gain their opinions about products, companies, and environmental changes. These studies, which seek to investigate the views of those affected by environmental, physical or social changes, help researchers to determine what the pubic finds important, for what reasons, and how situations should be handled in accordance with what those researched view as important.

Real world examples:

When elections are held, the public is polled frequently to understand what views on issues they value. Campaigns are often run largely based around issues which are viewed as having prominent impacts on the public and core values.

Recently, the previous CEO of Lululemon, Chip Wilson, had a large portion of the Vancouver seawall, which is a historic landmark, painted with a graffiti mural. The public was polled on whether they viewed this as being an issue, or if they supported it, and their attitudes were generally positive. This shows that a part of the public did not place a large value on keeping this part of the seawall plain, whereas a some individuals protested such developments.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is also an issue which value and attitude research can be applied to. The public and Native perceptions of the pipeline, as well as governmental consideration, have played a large part in the process.

Another example would be, as was pointed out in the Haider and Morford article, an investigation of what tradeoffs the public would be willing to make in regards to fire hazard removal and safety when it could decrease wildlife habitats, urban areas, and scenic beauty.


Cooper S. 2013 Nov 4. Lululemon billionaire in hot water over Vancouver seawall graffiti [Internet]. Calgary Herald; [2013 Nov 4, cited 2013 Dec 28]. Available from:

Haider W, Morford S. 2004. Relevance of social science to the management of natural resources in British Columbia. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management, 4 (1).

Lauer RH. 1971. The Problems and Values of Attitude Research. JSTOR: The Sociological Quarterly [Internet]. [cited 2013 Dec 29] 12(2): 247-252. Available from:

Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint is defined as the area of productive land and water, measured in hectares, required to sustain a given level of consumption and waste disposal. Ecological Footprint Analysis takes into account the state of technology. It compares human demand on nature with the biosphere’s ability to regenerate resources and provide services.

Real World Example: Environment Statistics (Ecological footprint by country) Rank Countries Amount

  1. 1 United Arab Emirates:15.99
  2. 2 United States:12.22
  3. 3 Kuwait:10.31
  4. 4 Denmark:9.88
  5. 5 New Zealand:9.54
  6. 6 Ireland:9.43
  7. 7 Australia:8.49
  8. 8 Finland:8.45
  9. 9 Canada:7.66
  10. 10 Sweden:7.53

The above ten counties all have big ecological footprints per capita.

The Sustainable Scale Project (2003). Retrieved from

World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF). (2000). Environment Statistics. Ecological footprint (most recent) by country. Retrieved from

Ecological Footprint

Ecological Footprint is a standardized measurement of the biosphere’s ecological capacity to support human demand for natural resources (Wikipedia, 2013). It describes the Earth’s biological capacity for natural renewal under human demand. It is measured as the amount of biologically productive land and water it takes to maintain a certain level of natural resource consumption by human activity (CSE online, 2013). Totals are described in “global hectares” (gha) consumed per capita per year. The measurement represents resource consumption in four consumer categories: Carbon (home energy use and transportation) Food, Housing, and Goods & Services (ibid). Natural resource consumption is further broken down to represent the resource demand made on Earth’s four primary ecosystem types or biomes: Cropland, Pastureland, Forestland and Marine Fisheries (ibid).
Measurements of Ecological Footprint are important to topics of environmental sustainability and natural resources management because it essentially provides an ecological balance sheet for resource accounting (Global Footprint Network, online 2013).

Real World Example:
Globally, the Ecological Footprint average per capita indicates that 23.47 gha per person are required to maintain present consumption levels. However, it is estimated that there are only 15.71 gha available per person on a naturally renewable basis. This indicates that human consumer activity is currently outstripping natural resource renewal by nearly 50% (CSE online, 2013).

Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE). Ecological Footprint. Retrieved on December 8, 2013, from

Global Footprint Network. Footprint for Nations. Retrieved on December 8, 2013, from
Wikipedia. Ecological Footprint. Retrieved on December 8, 2013, from

Carrying Capacity

The carrying capacity is the maximum population of a given species that can survive in a given specific geographic area. Ecologically speaking, carrying capacity is about three factors (Sustainable Measure, 2010): 1. the amount of resources available in the specific geographic area, 2. the size of the population, and 3. the amount of resources each individual is consuming

Real World Example : The number of people who could survive after a shipwreck depends on how much food and drinkable water those people have, how much each individual eats everyday and when they can get rid of the bad situation. If the shipwreck happened near an island, the carrying capacity of this island would be the amount of drinkable water and food that can support the lives of those people on the island

If carrying capacity is exceeded, the population declines because there is no resource to support the excess population. According to the above example, if there is no enough food and drinkable water available on the island, some people must starve to death.

Reference Sustainable Measure. (2010). Key Terms. Key term: Carrying Capacity. Retrieved from

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services can be defined as “the benefits people derive from ecosystems” (MEA 2005) or the processes by which the environment produces resources that are often taken for granted and not adequately captured or valued in commercial markets or conventional systems of national accounting such as GNP (Gross National Product) (Costanza et al 1997 & ESA 2000). Without these life-supporting services, the economies and therefore, communities around the world would collapse (Costanza et al 1997).

These services can be subcategorized as (MEA 2005):

  • Essential provisioning (e.g. food, fuel, and fiber, natural medicine and pharmaceuticals),
  • Regulating (e.g. water purification, carbon storage, climate regulation),
  • Cultural/Social (e.g. spiritual enrichment, recreation, heritage sense of place)
  • Supporting (e.g. necessary for production of all services)

Real World Example 1:

Economic Case for Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services:

It is estimated that ecosystems deliver essential services worth between $21 trillion and up to $72 trillion a year, comparable to the 2008 World Gross National Income of $58 trillion (Nelleman & Corcoran 2010), thus implying that these services play a critical (and irreplaceable) role in socio-economic welfare and must therefore be given adequate weight in decision-making processes in order to ensure a sustainable future.

Real World Example 2:

Costanza et al (1997) estimated market and non-market values of the components of ecosystem services. This valuation system has practical use and can be applied to help modify systems of national accounting/GNP to better reflect the value of ecosystem services and national capital. Such estimates can also be applied in cost-benefit analysis of proposed development projects where social costs/ecosystem service losses are weighed against the benefits of a given project.

Real World Example 3:

UNEP’s Dead Planet, Living Planet – Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development report highlights how well-planned, science-based, community supported programmes can recover 25% - 44% of the original (ecosystem) services of former intact systems which can in turn potentially trigger multi-million dollar returns, generate jobs and combat poverty.


Costanza, R. et al. 1997. The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital.” Nature Vol. 387.

Ecological Society of America (ESA). 2000. Ecosystem Services: A Primer. Retrieved October 28 2013, from

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). 2005a. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washingon, DC.

Nellemann, C. and, E. Corcoran (eds). 2010. Dead Planet, Living Planet – Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development. A Rapid Response Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme, GRID-Arendal. 12 Achim Steiner at

Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index is an index of sustainable well-being of a nation (Marks 2010 & HPI). It is an efficiency measure that evaluates a nation’s success in accordance to its productivity, that is to say “it ranks countries on how many long and happy lives they produce per unit of environmental input” or to put it another way, “the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them” (HPI).

The Index is based on utilitarian principles and is calculated by applying the following formula where each component is a separate measure based on global data (Wikipedia & HPI):

Happy Planet Index = Experienced well-being x Life expectancy
                                                 Ecological footprint

The Index is designed to challenge conventional indices used in national accounting systems and to measure national progress (e.g. GDP), which do not take sustainability into account (Wikipedia). It, furthermore, challenges the notion that “more is better” and that a nation’s progress is synonymous with wealth (Wikipedia & Marks 2010). However, it is important to note that the HPI does not reflect social justice and human rights issues of nations (HPI & Wikipedia).

Real World Example:

The HPI has published 3 reports to date - 2006, 2009 & 2012 - that have ranked many nations HPIs across the globe. These reports have demonstrated that the Western model of development is unsustainable and that there is a crucial need for the adoption of new paths of development.  Morevoer, it is the high and medium development Latin American countries that score highest in delivering fairly long and happy lives with a relatively low Ecological Footprint (HPI).

The HPI strives to promote policy that puts the well-being of people and the planet first (Marks 2010). And to this end, it is calling on United Nations to build on the HPI to move towards the key goal for a better future and to encourage governments to adopt these measures of human progress (HPI).


Marks, N. (2010, July). Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index. (Video file). Retrieved October 28 2013, from

Happy Planet Index (HPI). About the HPI. Retrieved October 28 2013, from

Wikipedia. Happy Planet index. Retrieved on October 28 2013, from


Complexity exists when managing systems because many social, economic, and environmental factors interact, and it is difficult to isolate or predict their impact. Linkages amongst these factors cause direct and indirect effects. Good management requires that people be prepared for uncertainty (Mitchell, 1997).

Mollinga (2010) identifies three specific types of complexity: ontological, societal, and analytical. Ontological complexity refers to the fact that natural systems have many components that relate to each other in unpredictable ways over different scales. Societal complexity is present in the management of natural systems because many people and groups, with varying values and agendas, participate and/or determine how resources are managed. Analytical complexity exists because our knowledge about how things work is not complete.

Real-world Example: Sustainable development considers not only the present but also the future. The complex nature of systems makes it difficult, if not impossible, to make predictions about the impacts of our various interactions with natural systems.


Mitchell, B. (1997). Resource and environmental management. Essex, England: Addison Wesley Longman Limited.

Mollinga, P. (2010). Boundary work and the complexity of natural resources management. Crop Science, 50(1), S-1–S-9. Retrieved June 28, 2012 from <a href=""></a>.


Uncertainty exists because we have incomplete knowledge and/or lack consensus regarding what we are trying to do or how we will do it. Eden (1998) notes that what we do not know is as important as what we do know, and that is often overlooked (see also Wynne [1992] and Brugnach [2008]).

In his paper on uncertainty in science, Wynne (1992, p. 114) identifies four types of uncertainty:

<img src="/images/thumb/2/20/ENVS3991_IMG1.png/464px-ENVS3991_IMG1.png" _fck_mw_filename="ENVS3991 IMG1.png" _fck_mw_location="center" _fck_mw_width="464" _fck_mw_height="68" alt="Four types of uncertainty." class="fck_mw_center" />


  • Risk is knowing the odds.
  • Uncertainty is not knowing the odds but knowing key variables and their parameters.
  • Ignorance is not knowing what we should know; for example, we do not even know the important questions to ask.
  • Indeterminacy is when understanding is not possible, when causal chains or networks are open.

Christensen (1985) notes that as people are able to reach consensus about means and ends, uncertainty decreases, and when consensus is lacking uncertainty increases. If people can agree on the outcome but not on how to achieve it, bargaining is the main planning activity. When people cannot agree on what they want or how to achieve it, planning is about finding order amidst chaos.

Real-world Example: To reduce uncertainty in climate change studies, researchers make use of social science as well as physical science data. For example, to evaluate the climate hundreds of years ago, scientists can count tree rings and assess the degree of stress experienced by the tree, as well as read written accounts of the climate of the period, such as descriptions of the weather in the journals of fur traders.


Brugnach, M., Dewulf, A., Pahl-Wostl, C., & Taillieu, T. (2008). Toward a relational concept of uncertainty: About knowing too little, knowing too differently, and accepting not to know. Ecology and Society, 13(2), 30. Retrieved June 28, 2012 from <a href=""></a>.

Christensen, K. S. (1985). Coping with uncertainty in planning. Journal of the American Planning Association, 51(1), 63–73.

Wynne, B. (1992). Uncertainty and environmental learning: Reconceiving science and policy in the preventive paradigm. Global Environmental Change, 2(2), 111–127.

Wicked Problems

Wicked problems are problems where:

  • Simplistic and straight-forward planning is not possible because of the high degree of inter-relatedness.
  • Ready solutions are not possible.
  • Requirements are incomplete and changing
  • Each problem is unique.
  • “Right” or “wrong” answers do not apply.
  • Values are not shared (Rittel & Webber, 1973; Shindler & Kramer, 1999).

Wicked problems are contrasted to tame problems for which the boundaries are known. In addition, it is clear when the research necessary to solve these problems is sufficient enough to implement solutions. This is not the case with wicked problems (Rittel & Webber, 1973). Furthermore, wicked problems become different from “messes” when their boundaries expand to include societal and moral issues (Shindler & Kramer, 1999).

Real-world Example: The video <a href="">Wicked Problems</a> defines sustainability as a wicked problem because of its many aspects and high complexity. A specific example presented is the Brazilian sugar cane industry. The products from the industry are beneficial, but the efforts—the introduction of mechanical harvesting—to reduce the impacts of the practice of burning are having significant societal impacts as they put more and more human harvesters out of work. Even though they are “trying to solve a planet problem they are creating a people problem” imbued with social and moral issues.


Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155–169. Available online through the TRU Library Journal Database.

Shindler, B. & Cramer, L. A. (1999). Shifting public values for forest management: Making sense of wicked problems. Western Journal of Applied Forestry, 14(1), 28–34. Available online through the TRU Library Journal Database.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit analysis adopts the notion that all value is economic value. CBA is about comparing the economic gain and loss of undertaking an action. According to cost-benefit analysis, everything must have economic value; however, sometimes putting a price on non-market items is to make those things less valuable in people's eyes.

Real world example: The government put a price on the natural environment. manufactures are allowed to pollute the environment if they agree to pay certain amount of money; however, natural environment is actually priceless

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a method to evaluate whether a decision is beneficially economical and/or protects societal values. Hanley and Spash (1993) identify several stages to CBA: define the project, identify impacts, determine which impacts are important economically, quantify these impacts, and then determine their economic value. After environmental and sustainability values are considered, the traditional CBA can be expanded. For example, CBAs may be used to calculate the carbon footprint of a project or to include a full life-cycle analysis of a product. Other factors that can be included are impacts on human health (Mitchell, 1997).

Real-world Example: The video <a href="">What do the facts tell us about global warming</a> presents an example of how CBA is used to evaluate sustainability. Bjørn Lomborg, the presenter, suggests that evaluating the societal benefits of sustainability efforts by using the CBA ensures a more complete analysis of the economic investments involved.

Cost-benefit analysis is a system that evaluates whether something is useful to undertake by weighing the benefits gained against the costs incurred. If a certain task does not provide proper worth to the economy, environment or society, then it is deemed to be an inefficient task. This is obviously a challenging task due to the difficulty of putting an accurate value on intangibles.

Real world example: A large developer would like to build a high-rise where the town skate park exists. While creating income for the economy, it disparages the community of a nostalgic location.


Hanley, N., & Spash, C. L. (1993). Cost-Benefit analysis and the environment. Glasgow, Scotland: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

Mitchell, B. (1997). Resource and environmental management. Essex, England: Addison Wesley Longman Limited.

Cost-Benefit Analysis (nd),, accessed 12/30/13.

Holistic Management

The Savory Institute defines Holistic Management as being “based on a decision making framework which results in ecologically regenerative, economically viable and socially sound management of the world’s grasslands.” The Savory Institute adds that holistic management “was first developed over 40 years ago by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist, game ranger, politician, farmer, and rancher.” Holistic Management embraces and honors the complexity of nature, and uses nature’s models to bring practical approaches to land management, and restoration. Yestrau (n.d) states that “despite the real and potential value that Holistic Management holds for farmers, especially those with livestock, the benefits and challenges have never been formally assessed.”

Holistic Management is based on principles that highlight the connections between herd animals, predators and the grasslands. To put Allan Savory's theories in "layman's" terms, according to the Permaculture Research Institute, "the core of Holistic Management is simply grazing local livestock in super dense herds that mimic the grazing patterns of big-game (which have since disappeared).

Real world example: Holistic Management teaches people about the relationship between large herds of wild herbivores and the grasslands and then helps people develop strategies for managing herds of domestic livestock to mimic those wild herds to heal the land.


Savory Institute (Internet) n.d, n.p, [Cited: 7 Feb 2013]. Available:
Yestrau, Melisa (Internet) n.d., n.p. “Holistic Management Overview”, Harvest Moon, n.p., n.d. [Cited: 7 Feb 2013]. Available:

Craig Mackintosh, Holistic Management (7, Dec., 2010),, accessed 10/10/13.


Ecocentrism (ecocentric) is a philosophy or personal ideal that places an inherent value on all living organisms and their natural environment, regardless of their perceived usefulness or importance to human beings.
Given today’s eco-conscious consumer and the worldwide need to eat, wear, use, drive, and live an all-around green life, we learn that there are levels, or shades if you prefer, to how green some people really are. Ecocentric practitioners, who are sometimes referred to as “dark green” (Woods), are those focused on protecting natural entities such as species, ecosystems, and landscapes. It is a perspective based on treating the world as eco-centered as opposed to human-centered.

The genuine ecocentric paradigm holds nature (i.e. human and nonhuman) at the center stage. It places importance on individual species (such as humans), but not necessarily at the expense of the existence of others (Cunha, M.P, Rego, A., and Viera da Cunha, J., 2008). Business currently addresses ecological problems by replacing competition for ecofriendly practices, yet they still hesitate where profits are concerned. Environmental sustainability for business is not to sustain nature but to sustain business under the given environmental pressures. Iyer (1999) describes for us the model of ecocentrism, “It demands that consumers, companies, governments and institutions assume ecocentric responsibilities, not for utilitarian or aesthetic purposes, but due to a genuine belief that human systems mirror natural ones” (as cited in Cunha, et al., 2008).

Al Gore helps to describe the challenge of change the world must face, through his book, An Inconvenient Truth. At the expense of the planets future existence, “…why so many people still resist what the facts clearly show, I think, in part, the reason is that the truth about the climate crisis is an inconvenient one that means we are going to have to change the way we live our lives.”

Real-world Example: Pop culture has turned the true meaning of Ecocentrism into a more achievable and somewhat more superficial way of life. It is undeniably uplifting when one can purchase a water bottle made entirely of recycled plastic, a countertop for the kitchen made from natural stone and recycled glass, but regardless of good intentions, that behaviour isn’t technically ecocentric.

Real world example (2): In the automotive industry, cars such as the Nissan Leaf (a pure electric car) have shown that environmental regulation constraints can be an opportunity for innovation.


"Ecocentric.", n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2013. <>.
Woods, Mark. "Ecocentrism." SFU Home . San Francisco University, n.d. Web. Apr. 2013. <>.

Cunha, M. P. e., Rego, A. and Vieira da Cunha, J. (2008), Ecocentric management: an update. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Mgmt, 15: 311–321. doi: 10.1002/csr.169


Ecological Footprint

de Graf (2012) refers to the Ecological Footprint as “an accounting metric which assesses humanity’s pressure on natural resources. It establishes how much land and water area a human population requires, to produce the resource it consumes and how much of the regenerative capacity of our planet we use to absorb emissions”. Currently, the world is living in an ecological deficit, which simply means that our demand for natural resources exceeds the supply or regenerative capacity of the earth. “To sustain our resource consumption rate at its present-day level we would need more than one planet!” (Author, n.d)

Real world example: The use of fossil fuels increases our ecological footprint. As an example, Aubrect (2003) states that, "it is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island incident".


Aubrecht, Gordon J II. (Internet).  2003.  "Nuclear proliferation through coal burning". Wikipedia. Physics Education Research Group, Department of Physics, Ohio State University. [Cited: 8 Feb 2012].  Available:

Author, A. (Internet). n.d. "Reduce Your Ecological Footprint" Environment Canada. n.p. [Cited:  7 Feb 2013] Available:

de Graff, Xenia. (Internet).  n.d.  "Development on its Head: the World Global Footprint".  [Cited 8 Feb. 2012) Available:

Land Ethic

The term land ethic was brought to popularity by an author and environmentalist named <a href="">Aldo Leopold</a>. Leopold used the term as a title to one of the chapters of his book, <a href="">A Sand Country Almanac</a>(1949). Leopold explained that the term land ethic is an interaction with nature that is ethical when the interaction preserves the integrity, stability and beauty of the <a href="">biotic community</a>. Leopold also complimented his theory with the belief that it is unethical when the interaction affects the integrity, stability or beauty of the biotic community.

Leopold defines the biotic community as soils, waters, plants, and animals. Leopold further explains that humans are citizens of this community and that we should respect this relationship.

Real world example: Following Aldo Leopold's theory we all have an obligation to do the right thing when we are dealing with the environment.  People, corporations, governments and the like should follow sustainable development practices that have a positive impact on the environment.  If you or a corporation is knowingly doing something that is causing harm to the environment you have an obligation to do the right thing.  Aldo Leopold's legend lives on through <a href="">The Aldo Leopold Foundation</a>.  The Aldo Leopold Foundation offers an opportunity to train to become a Land Ethic Leader in your own community through the The Land Ethic Leaders Program.


Leopold, A. (1949). A Sand Country Almanac. USA: Oxford University Press.

The Aldo Leopold Foundation, viewed February 11, 2013.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

LCA is a “cradle-to-grave” (beginning-to-end) approach used to assess the potential overall environmental impact of a product system throughout its life cycle. As defined by the SAIC (2006), the term “life cycle” refers to the “major activities in the course of the product’s life-span from its manufacture, use and maintenance, to its final disposal”.
LCA is a holistic approach that allows the researchers to take into account:

  • Extraction and treatment of raw materials
    * Educational tools
    * Product manufacturing
    * Transport and distribution
    * Product use
    * End of life

There are other methods of determining a product’s potential environmental impact; however LCA is the only method that assesses the environmental impacts of a product, or system of products, over the entire life of the product.

Real-world Example: Many of the products we see today advertise that they are “green”, referring most often to the materials used to make the product. Companies manufacturing products that consist slightly or largely of recycled material are satisfying the consumer demand for products that are environmentally friendly, however looking further into the creation and disposal of said products may cause the avid green-consumers to think again. It is with LCAs that businesses and consumers are able to determine whether a product is really living up to its “green” sheen, or if the materials, tools, manufacturing, distribution and end of life factors are, in fact, producing rather unfriendly products.

Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC). "Life Cycle Assessment: Principles and Practice." EPA, May 2006. Web. Apr. 2013. <>.
Quantis International. "Life Cycle Assessment." Life Cycle Assessment . Quantis, 2009. Web. Apr. 2013. <>.


Steward can be defined as a responsibility entrusted on someone to manage, take care of or be responsible for something that belongs to someone else.

A sense of ownership of our land due to tradition and culture has us react in a protective way to any perceived threats to our rights to our natural resources. This feeling of ownership brings a responsibility with it. Stewardship is comprised of individuals and/or groups that embrace the responsibility and become caretakers of their environment.

"Stewardship refers to the wide range of actions and activities of individuals, communities, corporations, groups and organizations acting alone or in partnership to ensure the continued health and sustainability of our natural resources." Stewardship, Department of Environment and Conservation Newfoundfoundland and Labrador. retrieved Nov 25, 2013

Environmental stewardship could be summarized as the responsible planning, management and use of the environment and natural resources so that future generations can enjoy mother earth. All human beings should be stewards of the environment because mother earth does not belong to anyone person.

Real-world Example: Canada is recognizing that it has a responsibility to encourage stewardship amongst its citizens and has created a <a href="">Land Stewardship Centre</a>. The organization has several intitiatives that help to promote an awareness and encourage action towards land stewardship. The Alberta government has created the <a href="">Alberta Land Stewardship Act</a>, the act can be summarized by stating that the Government must not infringe on the rights of individuals and must make decisions based on the greater public interest.

Stewardship is a vague term that refers to the duties society has to protect resources. Stewardship involves responsibility and management to ensure resources are properly taken care of. Stewardship can refer to tangible aspects such as the environment and intangible aspects such as information. In respect to environmental stewardship, it refers to the preservation and management of environmental resources. Stewardship requires accountability and the desire to protect our environmental integrity.

Real world example: A class decides to sustain an endangered forest outside their school to preserve its environmental integrity.


Stewardship, Department of Environment and Conservation Newfoundfoundland and Labrador. retrieved Nov 25, 2013

Land Stewardship Centre, viewed February 11, 2013.

British Columbia Ministry of Environment, viewed February 11, 2013.

Province of Alberta. (2009). Alberta Land Stewardship Act. Edmonton, Ab: Alberta Queen's Printer

Stewardship in Canada (nd)., accessed 12/30/2013

Quality of Life Measurements

The term quality of life (QOL) references the general well-being of individuals and societies. The term is used in a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, and politics. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment, but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.

QOL: The degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his or her life. Possibilities result from the opportunities and limitations each person has in his/her life and reflect the interaction of personal and environmental factors. Enjoyment has two components: the experience of satisfaction or the possession or achievement of some characteristic, as illustrated by the expression: "She enjoys good health." Our conceptual framework has three life domains, each of which has three sub-domains. being who one is Physical Being • physical health • personal hygiene • nutrition • exercise • grooming and clothing • general physical appearance Psychological Being • psychological health and adjustment • cognitions • feelings • self-esteem, self-concept and self-control Spiritual Being • personal values • personal standards of conduct • spiritual beliefs belonging connections with one's environments Physical Belonging • home • workplace/school • neighbourhood • community Social Belonging • intimate others • family • friends • co-workers • neighbourhood and community Community Belonging • adequate income • health and social services • employment • educational programs • recreational programs • community events and activities becoming achieving personal goals, hopes, and aspirations Practical Becoming • domestic activities • paid work • school or volunteer activities • seeing to health or social needs. Leisure Becoming • activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction Growth Becoming • activities that promote the maintenance or improvement of knowledge and skills • adapting to change. Importance and Satisfaction The extent of a person's Quality of Life in the areas of Being, Belonging, and Becoming and their sub-domains is determined by two factors: importance and enjoyment. Thus, Quality of Life consists of the relative importance or meaning attached to each particular dimension and the extent of the person's enjoyment with respect to each dimension. In this way quality of life is adapted to the lives of all humans, at any time, and from their individual perspectives-

Real life: Nisga'a Nation has implemented the "Quality of Life" model to the programs and services that are offered for the people in which they serve. To ensure that all spectrums are met in order to be productive in their service deliver: Social Services,Justice Department, financial dept. etc. Not only for the people they serve but for their employees as well. Follow by example...falling closely into the holistic model

Traditional Environmental Knowledge

Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) is a classification of knowledge possessed by indigenous people about their local environment and natural resources. TEK is acquired over time by empirical observations and continuous contact and relations with the environment. It is integrated into subsistence practices, culturally learned and passed down through generations (Stevenson, 1996).

TEK has been recognized as a valuable source of information for environmental management and there is a policy in place stating that Environmental Impact Assessment in Northern Canada must incorporate TEK (Usher, 2000). Many debates, however, occur regarding the validity of TEK in comparison to scientific knowledge because of the differences between them. Unlike scientific knowledge, TEK is holistic, qualitative, and can incorporate spirituality (Agrawal, 1995).

Real-world Example: The video <a href="">Climate Change in Great Bear Lake</a>, presents TEK possessed by the Dene people, an indigenous population living around Great Bear Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Due to their sustained intimate relationship with the environment around them, they have valuable TEK yielding insight into climate change. They have noticed changes occurring that had not been present earlier in their lives, nor for the generations before them, including disappearing water, changing water temperatures, changes in season length, and changes in animal behavior.


Agrawal, A. (1995). Dismantling the divide between indigenous and scientific knowledge. Development and Change 26:413-439.

Climate Change in Great Bear Lake – Nesbitt 2011, Deline Renewable Resources Council, viewed 21 February, 2013, <>.

Stevenson, M. G. (1996). Indigenous knowledge in environmental assessment. Arctic 49(3):278-291.

Usher, P. J. (2000). Traditional ecological knowledge in environmental assessment and management. Arctic 53(2):183-193.

Deep Ecology

Deep Ecology is a philosophy which was first formally introduced  in 1972 at the World Future Research Conference in Bucharest, by the Norwegian Philosopher, Arne Naess, although some consider that Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (1962), first introduced the concept in its more rudimentary form a decade earlier (Drengson, Devall, & Schroll, 2011).  Deep Ecology proclaims the importance of understanding the interrelatedness of all living beings within ecosystems, thus placing value on the natural world beyond its practical use to human beings and society (Drengson & Devall, 2010).  Both Carson (1962) and Naess (1973) suggested that in developing a deeper understanding of ecological processes and functions ourselves, we are better able to integrate our whole lives in to them, hence the term “deep."  The Deep Ecology Movement calls for a shift in consciousness to reflect this deeper understanding of the interrelationships of all living beings within the natural world.  

Contrary-wise too Deep Ecology, the term “shallow ecology” was used by Naess (1973) to describe the shallow stream of environmentalist philosophy that promotes the conservation of environments and natural resources in order to allow for there sustainable use and profit by human beings.  The term Deep Ecology has also been referred to as a form of “biocentric egalitarianism,” promoting the rights of living beings, such as animal populations, trees, and forests.

Real World Example:  In her book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson describes how the use of pesticides in the USA, which successfully led to reduced insect populations in certain regions, had the unintended effect of also lowering bird populations in those same regions.  The use of pesticides caused a ripple effect through the food web.  This example illustrates how human technology (pesticides) do not simply effect one target species because all species are interconnected within an ecosystem.    


Carson, R. (1962).  Silent Spring.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Drengson, A. & Devall, B. (2010).  The Deep Ecology Movement: Origins, Development, & Future Prospects.  The Trumpeter, 26(2), pp. 48-69.

Drengson, A., Devall, B., & Schroll, M. A. (2011).  The Deep Ecology Movement: Origins, Development, and Future Prospects (Toward a Transpersonal Ecosophy).  International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 30(1-2), pp. 101-117.

Naess, A. (1973).  The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement: A summary.  Inquiry, 16, pp. 95-100.  

Gaia Hypothesis

The scientist, James Lovelock formulated the Gaia Hypothesis, or Gaia Theory, which he first explained in great detail in his 1979 book, Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth.  The Gaia Hypothesis proposes that both the organic and inorganic components on the Earth’s surface and atmosphere form a self-regulating system, which maintains the proper conditions for complex forms of life to continue over time.  The self-regulating system is comprised of feedback mechanisms based on the interaction of organisms with their environment.  The Gaia Hypothesis is based on the observation that despite being in an extreme state of thermodynamic disequilibrium, the atmosphere is remarkably stable owing to the activities of life on the surface (Lenton, 1998).  As Lovelock & Margulis (1974) state, “the Earth’s atmosphere is actively maintained and regulated by life on the surface, that is by the biosphere.”  Other key observations contributing to the theory include the fact that optimal conditions persist on the surface of the Earth for the dominant organisms, as well as the long-term persistence of life over 3.8 billion years despite massive environmental disruptions (Lenton, 1998). 

The ancient Greeks used the word “Gaia” to refer to the larger society of  animals and plants on the Earth, including mankind, and their inseparability from the Earth.  “Gaia” translates directly as Mother Earth.  Lovelock et al. (1974) state that, “in deference to the ancient Greek tradition, we refer to the controlled atmosphere-biosphere as ‘Gaia.’” 

Real World Example:  Being a hypothesis, the Gaia Hypothesis inspires scientific research and exploration into the interrelationship between organic and inorganic processes on the Earth’s surface and within the Earth’s atmosphere.  


Lenton, T. M. (1998).  Gaia and natural selection.  Nature, 394, pp. 439-447.

Lovelock, J. (1979).  Gaia:  A new look at life on Earth.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lovelock, J. E. & Margulis, L. (1974).  Biological Modulation of the Earth’s Atmosphere.  Icarus, 21, pp. 471-489. 

Public Participation

Public participation is based on the idea that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. It is the process by which an organization deliberates with interested or affected individuals, organizations, and the government before a decision is made.
Public participation works in ways to solve problems through two-way communication in trying to attain better and more suitable decisions.

Real World Example: A proposed development of housing and commercial businesses in Delta, B.C. within the Burns Bog (an ecological reserve). Some individuals believe that virtually all of Burns Bog should be preserved to ensure the viability of the ecosystem. Others feel like this development will propose a better use for the property. A letter was mailed to each resident within the Delta Community asking for his or her input, as well as surveys to those who were interested in this developement.


International Association for Public Participation. (2007). IAP2 Core Values. Retrieved from

Creighton & Creighton, Inc. (2008). What is Public Participation? Retrieved from


Precautionary Principle

“When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” All statements of the Precautionary Principle contain a version of this formula: When the health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action. [1]

Real-world Example :

This definition of the precautionary principle is currently enshrined in the 1999 Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1999): “Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to implementing the precautionary principle that, where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

"The precautionary principle has been incorporated into CEPA 1999 in the “Preamble”, “Administrative Duties” section and in the provisions with respect to controlling toxic substances. As one of the first countries in the world to implement the precautionary principle in its environmental legislation, Canada will also have to provide leadership and show innovation in determining how to apply the Principle and make it work."face of potentially serious risk without having to await the completion of further scientific research." [2]


1. Science and Environmental Health Network. 2013. "Precautionary Principle FAQS." Web. Retrieved: 2013-05-13.

2. Government of Canada. Environment Canada. "Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999." 04 Sept 1999. Web. Retrieved: 2013-05-13.

Social Ecology

Social Ecology is focused on the relationship between people, the communities that they live in and the environment (Brookchin, 2001). Social issues are studied as they are seen to directly impact the environment. The link between the people and communities traditions and social norms is seen as being connected to the environment that they live in. One example could be the decisions regarding the natural resources in a geographical area being impacted by society focusing on their economical needs (Government of Canada, 2012).

Real-world Example: CSIRO is made up of a group of scientists who are studying Social Ecology. On their web site Social Ecology is explained along with their research projects and related links. One research topic is “trust networks between fishermen, how these impact upon fishing stocks and how they can be used by marine researchers in the design of marine protected areas” (CSIRO, 2011). By following their sites you can see many examples of how they are using Social Ecology to better understand the Earths Ecosystems and people of today.


Bookchin, M. (2001). Anarchist Archives: What is Social Ecology? Retrieved from:

CSIRO (2011). Complexity in social-ecological systems. Retrieved from:

Government of Canada (2012). Canada’s Economic Action Plan: Responsible Resource Development. Retrieved from:

Qualitative Research

The purpose of qualitative research is to understand and interpret social interactions. Studies consist of small number of participants that are not randomly selected in order to study them as a whole, not variables. The type of data collected are words, images, or objects by asking open-ended questions, interviews, participant observations, field notes, and reflections. The data is interpreted by identifying patterns, features, and themes. The researcher’s scientific method is exploratory or bottom-up where the research will generate a new hypothesis and theory from the data collected. The data is presented in a final narrative report with contextual descriptions and direct quotations from the research participants.

Real-world Example: Qualitative research in social sciences: Qualitative is used by researchers to gain insight into a problem, issue or theory. It is a subjective way to examine variables in their natural setting. Qualitative is important in social science research because it can capture the human experience and therefore the social context.


Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2008). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (p. 34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lichtman, M. (2006). Qualitative research in education: A user’s guide (pp. 7-8). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Quantitative Research

The purpose of quantitative research is to test a hypothesis, make predictions, and investigate cause and effect. These studies are conducted by using a large number of participants who are randomly selected in order to test for specific variables. Numbers and statistics is the data collected by using precise measurements from validated and structure data collection instruments. The data collected is used to identify statistical relationships of the specific variables being tested for. The research gathers data in a top-down or confirmatory process as the research is testing their hypothesis and theory with the data. Findings are presented as a statistical report with correlations, comparisons of means, and statistical significance of findings.

Real-world Example: Quantitative research: Is used by researchers to objectively measure variables to prove or disprove a theory.


Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2008). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (p. 34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lichtman, M. (2006). Qualitative research in education: A user’s guide (pp. 7-8). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Sustainable Economic Development

" In essence, sustainable development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development; and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations." [5] "All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system- a system that connects space; and a system that connects time." [3] It "implies meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." [4]

It contains within it two key concepts:

-The concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given

-The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."[3]

Photo Example: [1]

Real-world Example:

“Australia is making a real difference to the livelihoods of the poor by investing in environment action that supports development. Australia is sharing experience and expertise with developing country partners to help prepare for and respond to the impacts of environmental degradation and adopt sustainable environmental practices. This includes addressing land degradation, managing scarce water resources, and ensuring that environmental wealth benefits all citizens.

Australia’s own vulnerability to extreme weather events means we have developed knowledge to help us respond, and the scientific knowledge to help us adapt to a changing environment. Through the aid program, we are sharing our knowledge, skills and capacity with developing country partners. Through the aid program they are: -Building the resilience of developing countries by helping governments and their citizens adapt to their changing environment and respond to new opportunities -Working with partner countries to pursue sustainable development pathways -Improving the livelihoods of poor people through better management of natural resources and ecosystems -Enhancing the effectiveness of development assistance through integrating environment, climate change and disaster risk reduction considerations into all of our programs.” [2]


1. Art Center College of Design. "Concept of Sustainable Development."2013 Retrieved: 2013-05-06

2. Australia Government. “Environment. Sustainable Economic Development.” 2010. Retrieved: 2013-05-06

3.International institute for sustainable development. “What is Sustainable Development?” n.d. Retrieved: 2013-05-06.

4. United Nations. 1987."Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development." General Assembly Resolution 42/187, 11 December 1987. Retrieved: 2007-04-12

5. World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987 p. 43. Retrieved: 2013-05-06

Consumer Surplus

In macroeconomic theory, consumer surplus refers to the difference between the price that consumers are willing to pay for a good and the price they actually pay, which is called the equilibrium price.

The relationship between supply and demand is typically presented on an x-y graph. The area above the horizontal line representing the equilibrium price and below the demand curve, which is derived from the price that consumers will pay for each given quantity, is referred to as the consumer surplus. The concept of consumer surplus is often used in environmental fields in an attempt to determine and assign a value to, in economic terms, the many environmental "goods" that are consumed every day.

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One example is the theoretical consumer surplus associated with clean water. In most parts of the world, there is little or no price on water (although there may be on the distribution of water) due to the assumption that the resource is unlimited. But water is a necessity for human survival and in theory, the consumer surplus is nearly infinite, meaning that a consumer would be willing to pay any price for the last unit of water. For a good that does not have a price, it can be assumed that consumer surplus can be represented by the entire area under the demand curve ie the equilibrium price is equal to zero.

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Real world example: Most wilderness areas do not have a price of admission but this does not mean that it does not have a value. If the equilibrium price equals zero, the economic value of the site can be estimated by determining the demand at different hypothetical price points. The Travel Cost Method can be used to estimate the demand by calculating travel costs from a series of distances away from the site. It can be assumed that there will be a certain demand, say 2000 visits, from people that live directly adjacent to the site for whom the "price" (travel cost) is zero. It can also be assumed that at a certain distance away from the site, the travel cost is so great that there will be no visits. By repeating this for a series of concentric circles about the site, the demand curve and by extension, the consumer surplus (area under the demand curve) can be estimated.


Principles of Economics -

Asafu-Adjaye, John Environmental Economics For Non-Economists: Techniques And Policies For Sustainable Development World Scientific Pub Co Inc; 2 edition (February 28, 2005) <a href="">Google Books</a>

Multiple Account Analysis

Conventional cost-benefit analysis assigns a monetary value to all aspects of a given project in order to measure the expected impact of a given action. A major limitation to this approach is that not every factor is purely economic and monetizing these factors may not be appropriate or feasible. The need to more accurately assess non-monetary factors led to the development of an  extension to cost-benefit analysis known as Multiple Account Analysis.

One of the first organizations to formalize the use of this methodology was the US Water Resources Council , which, under the auspices of the 1965 Water Resource Planning Act, developed guidlines that identified four evaluation accounts:

  1. National Economic Devleopment
  2. Environmental Quality
  3. Regional Economic Development
  4. Other Social Effects

Each of these accounts is employed to consider both monetary and non-monetary factors and to inform decision-makers of the relative costs and benefits associated with alternative courses of action. While considered a useful tool, the methodology rarely points to a specific recommendation but rather provides a number of perspectives for consideration.

There is no specific set of accounts that must be used in all cases; each application will dictate the appropriate methodology structure. As an example, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) established its own evaluation guidelines to evaluate salmon enhancement projects that included five accounts: National Income, Regional Devlopment, Native People, Employment and Environment.

Two main benefits for using this evaluation approch have been identified as:

  1. Social and environmental factors that could not previously be assigned a reasonable monetized measure can now be assesed
  2. Factors from different regions can vary greatly and multiple account analysis can shed light on distributional variances

Real world example: In 2011 an engineering consulting company retained by JDS Energy and Mining Inc. conducted an analysis of the company's proposed Gahcho Kué diamond mine in the Northwest Territories. The consultants used Multiple Account Analysis to assess the alternatives for disposing of Processed Kimberlite (PK) waste using three accounts: Technocal Issue, Environmental Issues and Project Economic, with each account featuring several sub-accounts. Each account and sub account was assigned a numbered weighting on a six point scale and the sum of the scores was then used to assess nine options for PK disposal from which a final selection was made.


Shaffer, Marvin Multiple Account Benefit-Cost Analysis - A Practical Guide for the Systematic Evaluation of Project and Policy Alternatives University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, October 2010 <a href="">Google books</a>

Robertson, Andy & Shaw, ShannonUse Of The Multiple Accounts Analysis Process For Sustainability Optimization Robertson Geoconsultants Inc. <a href=""></a>

Deep Ecology

Deep ecology was originally developed Norwegian Philosopher Arne Naess, and now it is a world wide movement.Advocates of deep ecology belive that the world does not exist as a resource to be freely exploited by humans.   Deep ecology refers to the belief that the earth has certain legal rights to live and grow healthy.   The belief is that the whole system is ethically superior to any of its parts. "Deep" refers to the fact that this belief is more than an interaction between two living things,  it is a philosophical relationship.The word "deep" is used because deep ecology poses the deeper questions about the role of human life in the ecosphere.  The belief with deep ecology is that all living organisms are equal.  For us to believe in deep ecology we need to put all ego aside and allow all living and non-living organisms on earth be equals.

Real world example: Deep ecology is providing us hope that there will be a healthy earth for all of us to live on for many centuries to come.  Meditation and "becoming one with the earth" are examples of ways we can relate to nature and allow our unconcious see the earth differently and all living organisms as equal.


The Green Fuse Website:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  <a href=""></a>

"Answers to Ecology." Answers to Ecology. Web. 23 July 2013. <>.

Consumer Surplus

Consumer surplus, made popular in the early 1800's, was put together as a tool to measure customer satisfaction.  Consumer surplus is the point at which consumers are willing to pay more than market value for a given product.  A consumer surplus is created when the product is available at a lower price than the equilibrium price, the amount remaining above the equilibrium is considered the consumer surplus. 

The Economist has broken down the consumer surplus online.  People used to have to pay for newspapers to get news, now the majority of news can be found on a free website.  This has minimized the consumer surplus for the reader, as most of the income that is being accumlated by the news providers is from advertisers.

Real world example:  When the consumer is satisfied with the product and feels as though they are getting the product at a good price, than this creates a consumer surplus.  If a consumer was to buy a salad for $10 and the original price was $15, than it is said that the consumer surplus was $5.


Investor's Website:  <a href=""></a>

The Economist Magazine:



Biomimicry is a design concept in which researchers and engineers derive design inspiration for human products, science models or human systems from patterns or designs found in nature. Nature’s designs and patterns shown in the evolutionary traits of organisms and ecosystems can provide sustainable and effective insights as to how nature regenerates and/or remains sustainable under varying conditions.

The Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability defines Biomimicry as,“the strategy of using inspiration from nature and living organisms for design and problem solving” and describes it as “an important component of a sustainable design ethic” using many of “nature's best characteristics, including low toxicity, energy efficiency, and biodegradability” (2010).

Real World Example:

At the Institute of Biomimicry, researchers are using biomimicry to look for solutions to some of our most vital sustainability issues (2012):

Climate Change – “Studying the way human lungs work is inspiring new technologies that remove carbon dioxide from sources like flue stacks, preventing this greenhouse gas from reaching our atmosphere and warming the planet.”

Energy Efficiency – “Naturally flowing fluids, gases, and heat follow a common geometric pattern that differs in shape from conventional human-made rotors. Inspired by the way Nature moves water and air, PAX Scientific Inc. applied this fundamental geometry to the shape of human-made rotary devices for the first time, in fans, mixers, propellers, turbines and pumps. Depending on application, the resulting designs reduce energy usage by a staggering 10-85% over conventional rotors, and noise by up to 75%.”

Sustainability in Agriculture – “The Land Institute has been working successfully to revolutionize the conceptual foundations of modern agriculture by using natural prairies as a model: they have been demonstrating that using deep-rooted plants which survive year-to-year (perennials) in agricultural systems which mimic stable natural ecosystems – rather than the weedy crops common to many modern agricultural systems – can produce equivalent yields of grain and maintain and even improve the water and soil resources upon which all future agriculture depends.” (Biomimicry Institute, 2012).

"The more our world functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone." (Janine Benyus: Biomimicry Institute, 2012).

Fun Fact: The University of Toronto has a Biomimetics for Innovation and Design Laboratory based entirely on using the concept of Biomimicry - “Biomimetic design uses biological models to solve engineering problems. Biological phenomena provide an abundant source of inspiration for design, including novel models for process optimization and ideas for sustainable production practices.” (University of Toronto, 2013).


Biomimicry Institute. (2012). Case Examples. Retrieved July 2013, from:

Lazlo, C., Christensen, K., Fogel, D., Wagner, G. and P. Whitehouse. (2010). The Business of Sustainability. Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability, 2, 37-41.

The University of Toronto. (2013, July). Biomimetics for Innovation and Design Laboratory. Retrieved July 2013, from:

For further information on Biomimicry as related to sustainability see Janine Benyus on TED TALKS “Janine Benyus: The Promise of Biomimicry”:


The economic concept of externalities refers to uncompensated affects or impacts which can be “positive” or “negative” resulting from the actions of a person or party (often companies or corporations) on another person or party.

Philipsen explains externalities: “At its core, the term externalities captures a simple, basic idea: virtually every market transaction accrues either benefits or costs that are not directly involved in the initial transaction.” (2011).

Another way to put it might be to describe externalities as side effects of development, industry or other physical actions made by a person or organization which positively or negatively affect a person or multiple persons and is not accounted for in financial terms or compensated for in some other terms by the person or party whom is responsible. This concept is relevant to sustainability in that externalities such as air, water and soil pollution are often not compensated for by land developers or private industry and often become the financial burden of the state/tax payers.

Warf (2010) explains “positive” and “negative” externalities:

● “Negative externalities, however, which diminish the welfare of a person or a group, are a different story. Examples of negative externalities include the reduction in real estate values created by the location nearby of an unwanted land use (e.g., a toxic waste plant). If a developer erects a high rise that blocks a home owner's view, the latter suffers a negative externality. More general cases involve the creation of air and water pollution, acid rain, noise pollution, or traffic congestion. Because the producers of negative externalities do not have an incentive to worry about the impacts of their actions on others, they generate social and market inefficiencies.”

● “Positive externalities improve the welfare of an individual or group without a cost. For example, if one's neighbor has an attractive garden or plays music that one enjoys, the receiving party derives benefits without paying the costs. Most positive externalities are relatively trivial. However, network externalities, which reflect the rising utility of systems such as telephone networks or the Internet, are important: The more users use a system, the greater the value it has to each user.”

Real World Example: A negative externality would be the use of toxic fertilizers on tomato plants creating water toxicity in ground water and making local water resources not safe for human consumption. The cost of detoxifying the water and ensuring it is safe for consumption again is “externalized” to the public and community and compensated for by tax payers, not the company who was responsible for the pollution originally (Phillipsen, 2011).

When thinking about externalities it is important to consider: Careful assessment of and predictions for externalities in sustainable development planning and design. On who and how will an externality have an impact? Will it be positive or negative? Who is responsible for the externality cost and who should have to compensate?


Philipsen, D. P. (2011).Externailities. Green Business: An A-to-Z Guide. SAGE Publications, Inc., 259-263. ISBN: 9781412973793.

Warf, B. (2010). Externalities. Encyclopedia of Geography. SAGE Publications, Inc., 1069-1070. ISBN: 9781412956970.

Environmental Impact Assessment

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a general decision process that is used to predict the environmental effects that may take place should a proposed project or initiative be carried out.

An integrated EIA looks at that effect that a particular project could have on health, social, economic, cultural and psychological well being as well as the physical, biological and geochemical aspects of the environment in order to provide a holistic understanding of the intricate interrelationship between humans and the environment.

Real world example:

Before commencing the Northern Gateway Pipeline in British Columbia, an Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted to assess the potential damage that an oil spill could cause to the livelihoods of many costal and aboriginal communities and the areas unique marine ecosystem.


Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. (2012). Basics of Environmental Assessmnt. Retrieved May 31, 2013, from
Kwiatkowski, R. &. (2003). Integrated environmental impact assessment: a Canadian example. Bulletin of the World Health Organization , 81 (6), 434-438.
Nature Canada. (2012, January 10). Retrieved May 31, 2013, from Enbridge Northern Gateway Project:

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessments are a planning and decision making process designed to identify, predict and consider the environmental impacts of project proposals at all stages before they occur; so that measures to mitigate or avoid ecological deficits can be effectively strategized (Wikipedia, 2013).
Environmental Impact Assessments made at the early stages of project planning offer many social and economic benefits, including: opportunity for government and corporate transparency, public and Aboriginal participation, reduced project costs and delays, reduced risk of environmental harm or disaster, and increased protection of human health and safety (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, 2013)

Real World Example:
Canada set a new federal standard for the practice of impact assessment when it legislated the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in 2012 and its regulations which must be applied to any project designated by the Minister of the Environment (CEAA, 2013).

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). Basics of Environmental Assessment. Retrieved on December 8, 2013, from
Wikipedia. Environmental Impact Assessment. Retrieved online December 8, 2013, from

Deep Ecology

Deep ecology was first introduced by Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer, in 1972 (Drengson, 1995). Naess identified two forms of environmentalism within the burgeoning movement; the long range deep ecology movement and the shallow ecology movement. ‘Deep’ refers to the level of questioning and change required of the subscriber (Drengson, 1995). Deep ecology aims to focus on the fundamental root causes of environmental issues occurring, rather than applying “band-aid” solutions to environmental problems (Drengson, 1995). For example, the shallow ecology movement has been referred to as the use of technological fixes based on the current environmental and economic model, such as recycling and creating ‘safer’ pipelines, rather that consuming less and switching away from fossil fuels (Drengson, 1995). In contrast, deep ecology aims to redesign the entire system based on values to preserve earth as a whole (Drengson, 1995).

Eight Principles

Naess, along with George Sessions, proposed 8 principles to characterize deep ecology as a part of the general ecological movement. Sessions and Bill Devall articulated these principles in Deep Ecology, as cited by Drengson (1995):

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

These eight principles can be further refined into three simple propositions:

1. Wilderness preservation;

2. Human population control;

3. Simple living (or treading lightly on the planet) (Barry and Frankland, 2002)


Bron Taylor, a professor of religion and nature, environmental ethics, and environmental studies at the University of Florida, has commented that the dualisms of deep ecology (for example, the blanket statement that foraging for food is good and agriculture is bad) are simplistic and counterproductive to the purpose of garnering world wide support for preventing environmental degradation. Taylor states that people are motivated by immediate threats versus the need for consciousness transformations, which deep ecology falls under (Katz et al, 2000).

A more common critique of deep ecology is the association of it with misanthropy. So-called “proponents” of deep ecology who are also misanthropic have incorrectly cast deep ecology in the same light. Misconceptions or misunderstandings of the eight principles of deep ecology, which are vocal in the need for humans to share the earth and resources with non-humans, and to value non-humans as well, add to this idea (Drengson, 1995). In closing, it’s thought that DE, while being historically significant and having a great effect on environmental movements/philosophies surrounding, has not considered to be a complete system. Rather, it’s thought of as a continuing impassioned plea for development of eco -philosophies that share a core principle based on non-anthropocentricism (Keller, 2008).


1. Drengson, A. (1995). The Deep Ecology Movement. The Trumpeter Journal of Ecosophy, 12(3).

2. Barry, J., Frankland, E.G. (2002). In International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics. (pp. 161). Routledge.

3. Katz, E., Light, A., Rothenberg, D. (2000). Beneath the Surface: Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep Ecology. Cambridge, MA & London, UK: The MIT Press.

4. Keller, D.R. (2008). Deep Ecology in Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy. (Vol. 2, pp 206-211).


Ecocentrism is defined as “a philosophy or perspective that places intrinsic value on all living organisms and their natural environment, regardless of their perceived usefulness or importance to human beings” (Ecocentrism, 2013). The ecological political philosophy calls for the equality of intrinsic value across human and non-human nature. Ecocentrism is closely related to deep ecology in the removing of humans from the “top of the food chain” as it were; and is in fact, expressed in the first principle of deep ecology (Drengson, 1995). The opposite of ecocentric behaviour is anthropomorphic, or human centered. As Rowe (1994) states, “anthropocentrism says we know how to control and manage [the Earth’s ecosystems]; ecocentrism says "not yet; maybe never"”. There is a conceit based around people’s views of the environment, and their ability to control it. The ecocentric ethic seeks equality for all lifeforms and processes on Earth, and to remove the human desire for consumption as the most pressing need on the planet. Aldo Leopold first conceived the ecocentric movement, articulating the inter-connectedness of all life processes and the biotic community as a whole (Booth, 1992). The division of environmental thought into two camps, anthropocentric or ecocentric, is similar to deep and shallow ecology.


1. Ecocentric. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved November 02, 2013, from website:

2. Rowe, J.S. (1994). Ecocentrism: The Responsive Chord. The Trumpeter Journal of Ecosophy, (11)2.

3. Booth, D.E. 1992. The economics and ethics of old growth forests. Environmental Ethics 14: 43-62.


According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word biocentric means to consider all forms of life to have intrinsic value. However, the terms meaning can vary significantly according to the subject and can have significantly more depth.

From an ethical standpoint, the term biocentric suggests that humans are equal to all living things in nature, rather than above them and that we are all on a level playing field.

Biocentrists believe that we are all part of an ecosystem and that nature does not simply exist to be consumed and/or exploited for human needs.  Because of this factor it is believed that actions that negatively affect the ecosystem will negatively affect us in return due to the fact that we are simply another part of the all-encompassing system.

To break it down, the four main pillars of a biocentric outlook are:
• Humans and all other species are members of Earth's community.
• All species are part of a system of interdependence.
• All living organisms pursue their own "good" in their own ways.
• Human beings are not inherently superior to other living things

In more recent years the term was used by Dr. R. Lanza to explain a new world theory that is discussed below.

Biocentrism or the biocentric universe is a new worldview or theory proposed in 2007 by American doctor of medicine Robert Lanza. The concept of Biocentrism is that biological life creates the universe and not the other way around. Lanza argues that biology should replace physics and chemistry as the foundational science in our understanding of the universe because the current theories of the physical world do not work, and will not work until they fully account for life and consciousness.

There are seven principals that are used to form the base of biocentrism:

1. What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness. If an external reality existed it would have to exist in space. This however is meaningless as space and time are not absolute realities but tools of the mind.

2. Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined and cannot be separated from one another.

3. The behavior of all particles and objects is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer and exist only in a state of probability waves.

4. Without consciousness, “matter” would reside in an undetermined state of probability.

5. The structure of the universe is only explainable through biocentrism. The universe is set up specifically for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe and not the other way around. The “universe” then is simply the complete spatio-temporal logic of the self.

6. Time does not exist outside of animal sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.

7. Space is not a thing or object. It is another form of our understanding and does not have an independent reality. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.

Real World Example

There is a significant amount of criticism towards biocentrism as the outlook entails many unacceptable moral judgments. One being that killing insects and wildflowers is as morally reprehensible as killing humans.


Biocentric. (2005, May 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:50, June 1, 2013, from

Biocentric. (n.d.). In Merriam Webster Online, Retrieved June 1, 2013, from (Berman, 2013)

Berman, R. L. (2013). Biocentrism / Robert Lanza’s Theory of Everything. Retrieved June 1, 2013, from


Biocentric or Biocentrism is the philosophy that all forms of life have intrinsic value. Biocentrics contrast Anthrocentrics whos centers on the value of humans and not that of the balance of the worlds Bio-load. Biocentric views focus on biodiversity, animal rights, and environmental protection. Humans are not considered more important than any other species.

Greenpeace is the world’s largest environmental organization and would be a good example of an organization that takes a Biocentric view. Greenpeace strives to counterbalance the, sometimes perceived, egregious actions of those participating in environmental exploitation. defines the meaning of Biocentric as:
centered in life; having life as its principal fact [2].

Biocentrism is a nonconsequentialist and nonanthropocetric ethical perspective concerned with the moral relationship between humans and nonhuman beings, animals and plants, and the Earth's natural environment, globally considered. Human beings face complex ethical dilemmas in their relationships with the natural environment and with other forms of life [1].

Biocentrism focuses on the general framework of ethical approaches concerned with humankind's relationships with other living beings on Earth.

Real World Example
Viewing a spider's presence as equally important as a human's presence in an eco-system.


Marriam-Webster Website <a href=""></a>


Wikipedia: Biocentrism)

1. BioCentrism. Silva, Carlos (2011). "Biocentrism" in "Green Ethics and Philosophy: An A-to-Z Guide". Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc. p. 56. Retrieved on October 12, 2013 from:  

2. Biocentric. In, Based on the Random House Dictionary. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from

Impact Assessment

An Impact Assessment is the process of identifying, weighing, and contrasting possible positive and negative impacts a project has on the environment when developing policy. Impact Assessments take a holistic approach by considering environmental, social and economic factors through both qualitative and quantitative analysis to render data. The result is an assessment that can be used as a tangible reference document when planning future or accessing current projects.

The objective of an Impact Assessment is to moderate the wants of a single interest party to satisfy the interests of parties across the board by way of analytical unbiased analysis.

The European Union is an economic and political association of many European countries. Impact Assessments are used by the European Union as a tool to govern in a way that is transparent, and seen as unbiased among its 27 member states. The European Union has assigned itself and Impact Assessments Board to ensure that the Impact Assessments that are submitted meet the level of criteria and quality to ensure the effectiveness of the Impact Assessments that are being produced.

Impact assessment is a process of identifying future consequences of a current or proposed action. This is used as a practical tool for helping meet today's needs while having environmental quality & social equity as a result. International Association for Impact Assessment. retrieved November 25th, 2013


International Association for Impact Assessment. retrieved November 25th, 2013

Wikipedia,2013,  (Environmental Impact Assessment) (<a href=""></a>)

Impact Assessment Board, 2012 Europa, European Union, Impact Assessment Board Report 2012, (<a href=""></a>)

Government of New Brunswick,2013, Enironmental Impact Assessment, (<a href=""></a>)

Environmental Perception

Environmental Perception refers to the way we view the environmental, with culture as a filter. It is the subjective ways in which both individuals and groups perceive and evaluate the environment in which they are surrounded. It is not limited to the natural environment; al also includes such factors as customs, values, structures, and other individuals and groups (Warf, 2006).

It is suggested that environmental perception can be seen as a four-stage model:

1. An emotional response.
2. An orientative response with the construction of mental maps.
3. A classifying response as the individual sorts out the incoming information.
4. An organizing response as the individual sees causes and effects in the information (Mayhew, 2012).

“Many people are increasingly concerned about environmental quality and have argued the need to examine problems and solutions in a board context. What they are after is a holistic ecosystem framework, which is defined in terms of the natural and physical elements of the ecosystem. The implication is that man’s total environment is intelligible through the rational processes of the physical world. They seek to define an optimum environment from natural laws. The answer, however, does not lie in the laws, but depends upon people’s perspectives and values (Ditwiler, 1973).

Real world examples: Environmental Perception can be seen today in a lot of land disputes between Native Americans and corporate oil companies. There is an obvious dispute as the Native Americans perceive the environment as a way a life, and value it as a source of food and shelter. Oil companies perceive the environment as potential for oil production with their main value being profit. .
‘Wilderness’ is also another good example of environmental perception, as each individual uses their own culture and past experiences to create their own idea of the concept.


Ditwiler, C. D. (1973). Environmental Perceptions and Policy Misconceptions. American Journal of Agricultural Economics , 55 (3), 477-483.

Mayhew, S. (2012). A Dictionary of Geography. (Fourth, Ed.) Oxford Univeristy Press.

Warf, B. (2006). Encyclopedia of Human Geography. SAGE Publications, Inc.

Source Reduction

Source reduction is decreasing the amount of materials or energy used during the manufacturing or distribution of products and packages. Source reduction is not the same as recycling. Recycling is collecting already used materials and making them into another product. Recycling begins at the end of a product's life, while source reduction first takes place when the product and its packaging are being designed.

It is important as it conserves raw material and energy resources. Smaller packages and concentrated products typically use fewer materials and less energy to manufacture and transport. It also reduces releases to air, land and water. For example, it takes less fuel to transport lighter weight materials. Source reduction also cuts back on what has to be thrown away. That helps keep solid waste disposal costs down, which is good for municipal budgets and consumers (American Cleaning Institute, 2013).

Source reduction can result from any activity that reduces the amount of a material needed and therefore used to make products. Some specific examples of source reduction practices are:

1. Redesigning products to use fewer materials (e.g., lightweighting, material substitution)
2. Reusing products and materials (e.g., a refillable water bottle).

3. Extending the useful lifespan of products.

4. Avoiding using materials in the first place (e.g., reducing junk mail).

In addition to the activities above, there are limited circumstances where the emission factors can be used to estimate greenhouse gas benefits of substituting one material or product for another material or product (United States Environmental Protection Society, 2012).

Real world Examples:  There are many ways in which anyone can contribute to source reduction.  Here are a few statistics which can help put it into perspective...

  • An average American family discards about 8.3 pounds of paperboard cereal boxes a year. However, if this cereal was purchased in flexible plastic bags without the box, only 1.4 pounds of packaging would be discarded.
  • A laundry detergent flexible pouch weighs 85 percent less than a plastic bottle. The amount of packaging is 84 percent less.
  • Packaging juice in a flexible box, instead of a glass bottle, reduces the weight of the product by 90 percent. The amount of packaging is reduced 70 percent. Source: (Partners for Environmental Progress, 1994)


American Cleaning Institute. (2013, June). Sustainability: Innovating for a Better Tomorrow. Retrieved June 2013, from Cleaning Institute:
Partners for Environmental Progress. (1994). Examples of Source Reduction. Retrieved 2013, from Flexible Packaging Association:
United States Environmental Protection Society. (2012, February). Source Reduction. Retrieved June 2013, from United States Environmental Protection Society:</p>


Ecocentric is a term used in ecological political philosophy to denote a nature-centered, as opposed to human-centered, system of values. As well as a a philosophy or perspective that places intrinsic value on all living organisms and their natural environment, regardless of their perceived usefulness or importance to human beings.

Real World Examples:

In today's world of drastic climate change, there have been many studies and social movements that urge us to study the human-centered ethics against those that are more ecocentric. To better understand and learn from our past mistakes and changes that threaten our planet.

References Wikipedia (2013, May). Ecocentrism. (2013). Ecocentric.

2. The ecocentric ethic was conceived by Aldo Leopold[5] and recognizes that all species, including humans, are the product of a long evolutionary process and are inter-related in their life ^ Leopold, A. 1949. A sand county almanac. New York: Oxford University Pressprocesses
The view or belief that environmental concerns should take precedence over the needs and rights of human beings considered in isolation.
Example - A person or social group committed to making a positive contribution to the survival of the human race and the eco system that supports us.


Conflict refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one of more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. Environmental conflicts manifest themselves as political, social, economic, ethnic, religious or territorial conflicts, or conflicts over resources or national interests, or any other type of conflict. They are traditional conflicts induced by an environmental degradation.

Though environmental issues often lead to armed conflicts, armed conflicts are often one of the most severe causes of environmental catastrophes. defines the meaning of Conflict as:
to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash [3].

Real World Examples:

  • The current and ongoing conflict diamond trade in various parts of Africa is an example of a conflict that is to say the least social, political and environmental.
  • Current armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba’ath government and those seeing to oust it. Since then, the United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have died in the clashes between President Bashar al-Assad's government and rebel forces who want him out [1&2].

Real World Examples: - In his book The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, author Barry Sanders elaborates what exactly the environmental consequences of war are. "Here's the awful truth: even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the earth would still be headed, head first and at full speed, toward total disaster for one major reason. The military produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all its inhabitants large and small, in the most immanent danger of extinction."


Wikipedia (2013). Conflict.

Simon A. Mason, Kurt R. Spillmann, Centre for Security Studies and Conflict Research, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

1. Syrian Civil War. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 12, 2013 from
2. What's happening in Syria and will the violence end?., Retrieved October 12, 2013 from
3. Conflict. In, Based on the Random House Dictionary. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from

2. Barry Sanders, The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, (Oakland, Edinburgh, Baltimore, AK Press, 2009) p. 22

Alternative Dispute Resolution

A process for resolving disputes between parties as an alternative to litigation. It is a process through which the disputing parties can address concerns and resolve their fundamental conflicts with methods that may include negotiation, mediation, collaborative law and arbitration. The alternative dispute resolution process may be enacted as part of or prior to official judicial review with an emphasis on conflict resolution.

Real World Example: The residential tenancy branch uses a Dispute resolution process prior to parties requesting Bailiff Services or filing a claim with the provincial courts. The Dispute resolution process includes a third party arbitrator who weighs the claims of the applicant and the defendant and makes a binding decision based on his/her findings.



To take the position that human beings are the fundamental centre and most important species of the universe and that all potentials are viewed from the human perspective. It places the importance of humans above all other species combined. The conclusions and judgements humans make are from a position of innate power with the belief they have an inherent right to do so.

Real World Example: The clear cutting of forests to provide sites for housing. The value of the human habitation takes president over the worth of the environment and all other species currently residing in the location.



The term panarchy [as applied to environmental sustainability] was developed by C.S. Holling in systems theory to describe ‘non-hierarchical organizing theories.’ Contrary to a hierarchical system, with structured and ordered components, a panarchy recognizes the complexity and interconnectedness (i.e. web-like) of nature’s systems. C.S. Hollings book, Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Systems of Humans and Nature, also relates the non-hierarchical structures of panarchy to human systems and human – nature interactive systems. One of the key constructs of panarchy if the evolutionary / adaptive nature of systems. That is, systems are always learning, and adapting along the way, through what the authors refer to as revolt and remember.

Resilience Alliance – Panarchy. Available from: Accessed 30 Jun2013.

Green Accounting

Green accounting [aka environmental accounting] is a critical component of environmental economics. The term green accounting can be defined more generally, but in this case will be specifically linked to the calculation of gross domestic product (GDP). Green accounting factors in the loss of natural capital to the calculation of GDP. This calculation of GDP is arguably far more accurate a measure of a country’s well-being (think social, economic & environmental) than the traditional GDP calculation (i.e. financial value of national goods and services produced) used in determining a country’s wealth. The negative implications of pollution are assigned a value, which facilitates green accounting to hold those responsible for environmental degradation responsible (i.e. polluter pays). It is not utilized in official national practices, and can be complicated in application, given perhaps arbitrary values associated with negative externalities and ecosystem services. For example, assigning a practicable financial value to the loss of a bear den due to logging practices is problematic for a large number of reasons.

CBC article from June 18th, 2012 in regard to green accounting (and ecosystem services) valuation.


Dematerialization is defined by UNEP as the reduction of total material and energy throughput of any product and service, and thus the limitation of its environmental impact (ACRR, 2003). It requires (a) reducing the material intensity of products and services, i.e. by increasing material efficiency, and (b) especially reducing the use of primary material resources (such as ores, coal, minerals) by improving recycling and re-use of secondary materials (i.e. shifting to a circular economy) (M.O'Brien, 2011). From an environmental viewpoint, dematerialization can be defined as the change in the amount of waste generated per unit of industrial products. (R.Herman, 1989).

Real world example: Dematerialization can occur through the reduction of our carbon footprint by means of reduction in energy consumption, such as reduction of vehicle usage, by ride sharing, local transit or bike riding. Another example is that some cities manage waste by turning it into usable materials.

Future of the Region Sustainability Dialogues, Metro Vancouver Dematerialization- Transitioning to an Economy Without Waste


ACRR. (2003). Resourcities & nbspA tool kit for decision-makers on Waste & Resources in cities. Retrieved 08 06, 2013, from ACRR:

M.O'Brien, S. a. (2011, 08 24). Draft Glossary of Terms used by the International Resource Panel. Retrieved 08 05, 2013, from UNEP International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management:

Metro Vancouver. (2012, 03 06). Metro Vancouver Future of The Region Sustainability Dialogues, Dematerialization: Transitioning to an Economy Without Waste. Retrieved 08 05, 2013, from Metro Vancouver Sustainable Region Initiative :

R.Herman, S. a. (1989). Dematerialization. Retrieved 08 05, 2013, from The Rockefeller University Science for the benefit of humanity:


Permaculture is a design system for shelter, energy, waste, water and food production and provides concepts, tools, techniques and strategies that empower individuals to create human environments that are not only sustainable, but regenerative (Verge Permaculture Inc., 2012). As an ecological design system, permaculture focuses on the interconnections between things more than individual parts (Permaculture Institute, 2013) The following is a diagram of the guiding principles of permaculture created by D.Holmgren:


  (Holmgren, 2009)

Real world example: Permaculture is a method that promotes sustainable living and the reduction of ones carbon footprint. One example of permaculture is to plant at home a vertical spiral garden which utilizes both space and efficiency. Plants that thrive in dryer soil are to be located at the top of the spiral while those requiring maximum moisture be placed at the bottom. This will provide both an optimum usage in water, while providing a local source for herbs and vegetables.


Holmgren, D. (2009, 10 10). Permaculture Ethics and Design Principles with David Holmgren. Retrieved 08 06, 2013, from

Permaculture Institute. (2013). Sustainable Living, Practical Learning. Retrieved 08 06, 2013, from Permaculture Institute:

Verge Permaculture Inc. (2012). What Is Permaculture. Retrieved 08 06, 2013, from Verge Permaculture:


Biocentric is the opposite of anthropocentrism, and places equal value on all life opposed to strictly human or non-human life. It is a holistic approach that places all species as comparable members of planet earth, and considers each organism interdependent.

Oxford Dictionary of Current English:

'bio'- 1. having to do with life or living beings; 2. relating to biology

'centric'- 1. having a specified center; 2. coming from a specific viewpoint

Merriam-Webster Online:

'biocentric'- Considering all forms of life as having intrinsic value.

Encyclopedia Brittanica Online:

In contrast to anthropocentrism, biocentrism claims that nature has an intrinsic moral worth that does not depend on its usefulness to human beings.

Real life example:

The balance of the biocentrically-minded with the anthropocentrically-minded gives us human-environment sustainability.


Bio. (2001). Oxford Dictionary of Current English (p. 81, 3rd ed.). New York, Ny: Oxford University Press Inc.

Centric. (2001). Oxford Dictionary of Current English (p. 139, 3rd ed.). New York, Ny: Oxford University Press Inc.

biocentric. 2013. In Retrieved August 19, 2013, from

environmentalism. nd. In Retrieved August 19, 2013, from

Quality of Life Measurements

Quality of life refers to the overall well-being of an individual human being, and to groups of humans in a given society. According to The World Health Organization, quality of life consists of perceptions according to cultures and values. Physical health, mental health, social relationships, and the physical environment are all accounted for when measuring a society's quality of life.

Although quality of life can be measured in economic means, The Economist argues that "material well being, as measured by GDP per person, cannot alone explain the broader quality of life in a country."

Factors in determining quality of life measure mortality rates, social standards (such as family life, marriage standards, political freedom, and gender equality), economic standards (such as unemployment rate and material well-being), as well as geographic standards (climate, agriculture).

Real life example: The quality of life is much higher in developed countries like the United States and Canada, than in developing countries.


"The Economist Intelligence Unit's Quality-of-life Index." The Economist. N.p., 2005. Web. 19 Aug. 2013. <>

United States. "Measuring Quality of Life". The World Health Organization Quality of Life Instruments, n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2013. <>.

Environmental Sustainable Yield

The extraction level of a resource which does not reduce the base of natural capital. The yield can vary over time due to ecological needs in order to maintain itself. The ecological perspective of sustainable yield can be applied to many different environmental aspects.

Real World Example: Defined in the National Water Initiative “the level of water extraction from a particular system that if exceeded, would compromise key environmental assets.” In forestry it is known as the maximum amount of harvest that can occur without depleting the fertility of the stock.


Australian Government, National Water Commision Web site. Retrieved August 6, 2013.

Goodland, R. 1995. The Concept of Environmental Sustainability. Retrieved August 6, 2013.

Intergenerational Sustainability:

The intention of current generations to maintain and enhance the condition of the natural world for future generations. There are two forms of intergenerational sustainability; direct, and indirect.

Direct: The direct form is in the arrangement of inheriting skills and or assets passed down from previous generations.

Real World Example: Tools, knowledge, and skills are taught to children of farming families in order to continue to harvest crops.

Indirect: The indirect form of intergenerational sustainability occurs when children relocate and or find new occupations differing from their earlier generations. Many families look for knowledge outside of their home to enhance their children’s schooling.

Real World Example: Some families can afford to send their children to school and University to further their education which their parents and grandparents could not provide. Many professions allow them to aid in maintaining our world to help benefit future generations. Ex. The learning’s of this course provide us with the tools to allow a brighter future for our children.


Bratland, J. 2006. Toward A Calculational Theory and Policy of Intergenerational Sustainability. Retrieved August 10, 2013.

Qualitative Research:

This research consists of a set of interpretive, material practices, that makes the world visible. These practices turn the world into a series of representations including field notes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings and memos to the self. Qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.

Real World Example: A research question allowing for an open interview to gather data about "why" and "how" a phenomena is.


Snape, D., & Spencer, L. (2003). The foundations of qualitative research. In J. Lewis & J. Ritchie (Eds.), Qualitative Research PracticeLondon: Sage Publications Ltd.

Quantitative Research:

Research that produces findings arrived at by statistical procedures or other means of quantification.

Real World Example: A research question allowing for a survey to gather statistical data about the phenomenon.


Snape, D., & Spencer, L. (2003). The foundations of qualitative research. In J. Lewis & J. Ritchie (Eds.), Qualitative Research PracticeLondon: Sage Publications Ltd.


Quantitative research is essentially about collecting numerical data to explain a particular phenomenon, particular questions seem immediately suited to being answered using quantitative methods.
Quantitative research is generally made using scientific methods, which can include:
- surveys and document reviews
- The development of instruments and methods for measurement
- Experimental control and manipulation of variables
- Collection of statistics & data
- Modeling and analysis of data

Example: Explaining phenomena by collecting numerical data that is analysed using mathematically based methods (in particular statistics)

Introduction to quantitative research

Precautionary Principle

The Precautionary Principle is an international policy that is used as a guide and framework for how a development will affect the environment and health of future generations. It is "a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in" (2012). Precautionary measures should always be taken even if the cause and effect have not been scientifically proven yet.

Example: The precautionary principle was used with asbestos and the effects on lung cancer. Asbestos was not in use before the full cause and effect relationship was understood (2002).


Environmental Commons. (no date). The Precautionary Principle. Creative Commons License. Retrieved September 19, 2013

Canadian Environmental Law Association. (2012). The Precautionary Principle. Retrieved September 19, 2013

Shettler, T., Barrett, K., Raffensperger, C. (2002). The Precautionary Principle: Protecting Public Health and the Environment. Retrieved September 19, 2013

Traditional Environmental Knowledge

Traditional Environmental Knowledge is the notion that indigenous populations have their own understanding of the place they live in, the ecosystems in that environment, and the balance of human and nature needed for the stability of the environment. While it is typically and Americanized term, associated with Native Americans, it can be applied to any culture and setting where the indigenous lived off the land before colonization and settling began. Since numerous generations were able to sustain themselves and the environment for thousands of years, they have an inherent understanding of the natural, biological processes in an area without the use of scientific research.

Example: The indigenous populations know the life cycle, and spawning season of salmon, caribou, moose, deer, and elk without having to explain scientific heat cycles, mating patterns, or creating maps of ideal breeding locations. The indigenous also know the right number of animals to kill for food, and how many to leave, in order to sustain the ecosystem - without having to look at graphs, population numbers, and government set hunting licenses given.


Berkes, F. (no date). Traditional Ecological Knowledge. University of Manitoba. Retrieved September 19, 2013

Economic Valuation

The term value, in economics, refers to the price individuals are willing to pay for a good or service [1]. Economic valuation is an estimate of the economic value associated with any particual resource and includes both market values and non-market values [2]. For example, one might want to know the total economic value of protecting a particular forested area [1]. Some important points to consider would be land use value (eg. Recreational hunting and fishing) as well as ecological services such as clean air, clean water, and carbon storage [2].

Environmental valuation, in particular, refers to the techniques economists use to asses the value of natural resources and resource services [1].

Real life example: Economic valuation is an important tool for determining the best site for a new development project. One would want to choose the site where, “net benefits (commercial gains from the development) minus the cost of production and environmental damage it causes, are maximized” [1].

1. Lipton, Douglas W., Wellman, Katharine F., Sheifer , Isobel C., Weiher, Rodney F. (1995). Natural Resources: A Handbook for Coastal Resource Policy Makers. NOAA Coastal ocean program decision and analysis series No.5. NOAA Coastal Ocean Office, Silver Spring MD: pp. 9-17.
2. Haider, Wolfgang & Morford, Shawn. (2004). Relevance of Social Science to the Management of Natural Resources in British Columbia. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management, 4 (1).

Decision Analysis

Decision analysis refers to a set of methods used for the structuring of decision processes [1]. It often utilizes disciplines such as philosophy, theory, methodology and professional practice to address important decisions that are focused on either single or multiple objectives [1, 2]. The first step in decision analysis is to develop suitable indicators to measure the objectives of the decision process. The second step is to create a small set of feasible alternatives, and use the objectives to evaluate the alternatives [1].

Real life example: Decision analysis was used in the Tatshenshimi/Alsek land use debate in British Columbia in 1993 [3]. There was potential for conflict between a major mine development proposal and the high wilderness value of the region [3].

1. Haider, Wolfgang & Morford, Shawn. (2004). Relevance of Social Science to the Management of Natural Resources in British Columbia. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management, 4 (1).
2. Decision Analysis. Wikipedia-The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 27, 2013 from
3. Interim report on the Tatshenshini/Alsek Land Use. Volume 1-report and recommendations. Retrieved September 27, 2013 from

Carbon Offsets

Carbon offset or carbon credit is an ethical method to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, carbon offsets are investments in projects that remove carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere (DSF, 2013). This practice is often carried on by polluting industries to compensate for the carbon footprint caused by their industrial activities. Some examples of carbon offset projects are tree-planting, renewable energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass energy, landfill gas recovery, and other energy efficient projects (DSF, 2013).

Real World Example: To assist carbon credit buyers in their purchase there are several tools available in the market. The David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute have published a useful guide titled Purchasing Carbon Offsets: A Guide for Canadian Consumers, Businesses, and Organizations. Also, there are several standards for carbon offsets such as the Verified Carbon Standard, the Green-e, and the Gold Standard. The latter is believed to be the highest standard as its price premium certification equals quality (Gold Standard, 2013).

References: David Suzuki Foundation Website. (2013). What is a Carbon Offset. Retrieved October 7, 2013, from

David Suzuki Foundation & Pembina Institute. (2009) Purchasing Carbon Offsets: A Guide for Canadian Consumers, Businesses, and Organizations. Retrieved October 7, 2013, from

The Gold Standard – Premium Quality Carbon Credits Website. (2013). A best practice methodology and a high quality carbon credit label for both Kyoto and voluntary markets. Retrieved October 7, 2013, from

Industrial Ecology

Industrial ecology is an emerging interdisciplinary field that analyses the interactions between industrial and ecological systems as it aims at reducing the negative impact that the industrial manufacturing process and the processing of raw materials has on the environment (Lifset &Graedel, 2001). The goal of industrial ecology is to reduce costs by selling unwanted by- products and to promote sustainable development through the effectiveness of resource management and the application of renewable resources. When developing environmental requirements, the focus of industrial ecology is on issues such as materials and energy (renewable and non-renewable), waste, and ecological and human health. Also, when formulating strategies for meeting environmental requirements, industrial ecology centers its attention to issues such as product and material life extension, material selection, energy efficiency, improved management processes and practices, and efficient distributions (Garner & Keoleian, 1995).

Real World Example:

An excellent example of by-product synergy and industrial ecology can be found in Kalundborg, Denmark, where some enterprising and environmentally oriented factories have teamed up to exchange both materials and energy for mutual benefit and environmental sustainability (BSD, 2013).

References: Lifset, R. & T. E. Graedel. (2001). Industrial Ecology: Goals and Definitions. In Handbook for Industrial Ecology, edited by R. U. Ayres and L. Ayres. Brookfield: Edward Elgar. Retrieved October 22, 2013 from

Garner, A. & Keoleian, G. A. (1995, November). Industrial Ecology: An Introduction. National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education – University of Michigan. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from

BSD Global Website. (2013). Business and Sustainable Development: A Global Guide – Case Study – Kalundborg. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from


Anthropocentric is the tendency to regard humans as the central element of the universe, as well as interpreting reality only in terms of the human values and experiences. Any disregard to animals or other existence is considered to be an anthropocentric view.

Real World Example: Burning areas of rain forests is an Anthropocentric approach since it disregards the environment.


The Free Dictionary. Anthropocentric. retrieved from

Merriam- Webster. anthropocentric. retrieved from

Open Course Ware.Anthropocentric vs Non-Anthropocentric Environmental Ethics. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from Capilano University Open Course Ware Web site:

Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR , short for Alternative Dispute resolution refers to the process disagreeing parties use as a substitute for litigation. It is also a way for parties in conflict to reach an agreement with or without the help of third parties. ADR can be classified into types such as arbitration , negotiation , Collaborative law , and mediation.

This process is adopted by many worldwide, it serves as a cheaper alternative to resolving disputes in the more common means.

Real world Example:

Parties who may be involved in a environmental sustainably issue who are opposing steps being made my corporations can all all use some sort of an Alternative Dispute Resolution method.


American Bars Association.2013.Retrieved November,2013 from /dam/aba/directories/dispute_resolution/0001_collab.pdf

Standard Digital. Alternative Dispute Resolutions Ideal For ICC Cases.November,18th. Retrieved on November 19th from

Wikipedia.Alternative Dispute Resolution.Retrieved November 19th,2013 from

Ethical Consumerism

Ethical consumerism, sometimes referred to as green consumerism, is defined as the practice of purchasing products and/or services that are less impactful on the environment and/or avoiding products that do impact the environment. Ethical consumerism can also be defined as avoiding products/services that have a negative impact on society and/or the environment (i.e. avoiding products that harm the people producing them). Ethical Consumer (2013) divides ethical consumerism into four divisions

  • Positive Buying: Where the consumer favours ethical products
  • Negative Purchasing: Where the consumer avoid products that are harmful to the environment
  • Company-Based Purchasing: Where the consumer avoids purchasing all products from a particular company based on the poor ethics of that company
  • Fully-Screened Approach: Where the consumer does an evaluation of the products and company ethics and buys products with the best overall scoring

Real World Example 1: In 1993 the Environmental Investigation Agency boycotted all goods from Taiwan in an attempt to stop the Taiwanese trade of Rhinoceros horns. The trading of Rhinoceros horns was immediately banned by the president of Taiwan following this boycott (Irving, 2002; ECRA 1997).

Real World Example 2: The Nestle Boycott in the late 70’s prompted consumers around the world to boycott the brand after learning of their aggressive advertisement of breast milk alternatives in developing countries.

Real World Example 3: In 2009 people began to boycott the brand Kleenex because of its impact on old-growth forests in North America. This boycott resulted in Kimberley-Clark, the owners of the Kleenex Brand, developing a paper procurement policy that mitigated their previous impact on the environment.


Ethical Consumer. Why Buy Ethically? Retrieved November 27, 2013 from

Ethical Consumer. Successful Boycotts. Retrieved November 27, 2013 from:

Irving, S., R. Harrison, M. Rayner. (2002). Ethical Consumerism – Democracy through the Wallet. Journal of Research and Consumers. 3, 2-20.


Biomimicry is the utilization of natural systems, models, and elements to solve design flaws or for use in the development of a new product, model, or system. Ask Nature (2013) states that “the core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with.”

Real World Example 1: The designer of Velcro got the idea from burrs stuck in his dog’s fur (Mother Nature Network, 2013).

Real World Example 2: During the 2008 Olympics Michael Phelps wore a swimsuit that mimicked sharkskin. The overlapping scales of sharkskin allow for sharks to move faster through water by making the water pass by faster. This design has also been proposed for hospital floors as those same overlapping scales discourage parasite growth on the shark’s skin (Mother Nature Network, 2013).

Real World Example 3: Similar to sharkskin the petals of a lotus flower have “microscopic protuberances” that allow them to remain free of dust and parasites. This design was used in the development of a new exterior paint that mitigates the need to wash the exterior of a house (Mother Nature Network, 2013)


Ask Nature. (2013). What is Biomimicry? Retrieved November 28th, 2013 from:

Benyus, J. (2009, August). Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action. (Video File). Retrieved November 28, 2013, from:

Mother Nature Network. (2013). Retrieved November 28th, 2013 from:

Collaborative Consumption

Collaborative Consumption, is an idea that through access to certain goods ( tools, services etc), we are able to eliminate the need for personal ownership. Thus cutting down on the depletion of our worlds natural resources. This concept has been adopted by many networking sites such as EBay and Craigslist.

Real World Example 1: A man owns a drill but only uses it and lets it run for 6 to 13 minutes over the course of its entire lifetime (2010). Rather than his neighbour buying his own drill and creating more waste , allowing him to borrow it gives much more use to the drill and eliminates the need for purchasing an entirely new one.

Real World Example 2: Someone owns camping gear that they get to use once every 2 or 3 years. Allowing someone else temporary use and ownership allows them to go camping without purchasing a brand new tent or stove. Eliminating everything from the trees that made the cardboard of the tent box to the pollution of the tanker that ships the product. Does one less tent stop all that from happening no, but when others do it as well and a sharing economy is created these small impacts exponentiate and become far greater.


Botsman, R. (2010, December). Rachel Botsman: The case for collaborative consumption. (Video File). Retrieved Jan 04 2014 from:

Rogers, R. Botsman , R. What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (HarperCollins, 2010).


According to Miriam-Webster's English Dictionary Anthropocentric refers to the idea that humans are the most significant species or form of life on the planet. This idea or perspective is a man made concept that "justifies" the depletion and destruction of anything we need in order to survive. Anthropocentrism is thought to be one of the main reasons our interaction with the environment is so destructive. This theory is why we feel the need to develop and expand to parts of the environment that function and flourish without the presence of humans. We feel we are the only beings with intrinsic value and all other and the soul purpose of the other living things is to sustain our existence (MacKinnon 2007, p. 331).

Real World Example 1

Deforesting an area to build condos. This destroys an entire ecosystem including the wildlife that lived in this area for the sake of human desire and comfort. We justify this by considering our lives being more valuable than that which we have destroyed.

Real World Example 1

Taking the lives of other living animals not for survival but our gluttony. We do not consider the lives, goals, emotions of other creatures, we merely only care about satiating our current desires.


Mackinnon, B 2007, Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 5th edn, Thomson/Wadsworth, Belmont, California.

Oak, M 2011,What is Environmental Ethics?,Buzzle Retrieved Jan 04 2014 from