Environmental Indicators for Our Coasts and Oceans


It is often hard to tell exactly whether environmental conditions are getting better, worse or staying the same; that is, there has been no systematic effort to objectively measure overall environmental conditions in the United States. The concept behind the Heinz Report is so simple it's brilliant: select a manageable number of indicators for the environment and measure them repeatedly to determine how they are changing.

The plan of attack for the Heinz Report divided ecosystems into six general categories — such as forests, farmlands and shrublands, coasts and oceans, and so on — and then asked scientists to figure out how to make objective, quantifiable measurements of their conditions.

We spoke with Thomas Malone about the need for this kind of information and about his work on the coasts and oceans part of the Heinz Report.

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