Pressure - State - Response

Talking Points
  • More examples
  • State is easiest to measure
  • Responses also easy to measure
  • Can't necessarily control pressures but they are most important

Here are some other examples in the pressure-state-response framework.

An environmental agency monitors the level of pollutants in the air. A typical unit of measure is parts per million. An environmental agency responds to that level of pollution by issuing permits to facilities that are causing the pollution. However, it is only recently that these agencies are looking at the pressures causing the state: the amount of toxic material that is being used or released into the environment.

Another example is a general measure of air quality: the number of days that air quality is considered "good." Because air quality problems come from automobiles, environmental agencies measure the number of vehicles that have been inspected or the number that meet certain emission standards. However, the pressure behind the problem is the amount that people drive. The emission controls on cars over the last two decades have dramatically decreased the amount of pollution generated per gallon of gasoline used. However, because people are driving much more than they used to, some metropolitan areas have actually seen air quality get worse. If the pollution per mile driven goes down by half but people are driving three times more than they used to, the result is more pollution.

A third example is the problem of what to do with trash. It is not uncommon to measure the amount of material that is landfilled or the amount incinerated. Environmental agencies also count the number of inspections done on incinerators or permits for landfills. However, the pressure is the amount of product being purchased for which the ultimate end is the landfill or incinerator.
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