An overview of systems analysis methods in delineating environmental quality indices Academic Article uri icon


  • Environmental quality indices (EQIs) have been developed for a variety of purposes ranging from enforcement of environmental standards, to analysis of trends of environmental degradation or improvement, to scientific research. EQIs currently in use are not organized within an integrated framework and thus it has been difficult to analyze adequately complex, multidisciplinary, large-scale, global phenomena. In this paper we compare four different approaches to developing EQIs within a systems perspective. Our analysis suggests that: (1) non-linear regression models that represent an ecosystem's response to different impacts within a stress-response framework (method of response functions) are useful tools for analysis of environmental data; (2.) non-equilibrium thermodynamics models based on the concept of exergy, which represents the free energy a system possesses in relation to its environment, provide a common basis for representing many aspects of ecosystem development and response to environmental impacts as a single measure; (3) diagram models based on the concept of emergy, which represents both environmental values and economic values with a single measure, provide a common basis for integrating economic development and environmental protection values into one index; and (4) complex systems simulation models based on general systems theory, which use the methodologies of systems analysis and simulation to identify, quantify, and interrelate EQIs within a dynamic systems context, provide explicit linkages between causes and effects (vertical integration) and identify cross-linkages among different environmental issues (horizontal integration). (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Pykh, Y. A., Kennedy, E. T., & Grant, W. E.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Pykh, YA||Kennedy, ET||Grant, WE

publication date

  • June 2000