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Effective Conservation ScienceData Not Dogma$
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Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier, and Brian Silliman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198808978

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198808978.001.0001

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The thin ice of simplicity in environmental and conservation assessments

The thin ice of simplicity in environmental and conservation assessments

Chapter:
(p.10) Chapter 2 The thin ice of simplicity in environmental and conservation assessments
Source:
Effective Conservation Science
Author(s):

Moana McClellan

Ian Davies

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198808978.003.0002

This chapter asks whether environmental and human health are well served by the creation and use of simple indices, such as the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool and the Environmental Performance Index. Reducing vast complexity to a single number offers the possibility of helping to communicate complex science to the public and to decision-makers. Indices are appealing because they are quantitative, have the appearance of being data-based, and seem objective. However, the biases and potential errors inherent in simplifying multidimensional data can result in misleading or incorrect conclusions. This chapter details some problems inherent to environmental indices, examines how these issues have led wellintentioned studies astray, and offers solutions to navigate the indices landscape.

Keywords:   index/indices, conservation indices, environmental policy, environmental justice, California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool, Environmental Performance Index

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