Indicators of Environmental Quality: an Overview

  • William A. Thomas
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 1)


A concerted effort to enhance habitability of our planet is unlikely to succeed unless we know “where we are” and “where we want to go.” To answer these questions, we first must consider exactly what we include in the term “environment.” If we restrict our consideration to overly simplified definitions, such as the amount of a specified pollutant in air, we have very little difficulty in measuring environment. However, as we broaden our definition to include all the physical components, or all the physical and biological, or all the physical, biological, and cultural ones, environment becomes exponentially more difficult to describe. Nonetheless, I believe we must take the holistic approach at the outset and define environment as that complex of interacting physical and cultural factors which routinely influences the lives of individuals and communities. This indeed is a broad definition, but we should not forget when we study the individual components that the entirety functions as a system of interacting components.


Environmental Quality Water Quality Index Environmental Indicator Meteoric Shower Union Carbide Corporation 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Indices Group Environmental ProgramOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA

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