» Decision making

Technology and Environmental Decision-Making: A critical-thinking approach to 7 environmental challenges

ATEEC and MIT teamed up to produce Technology and Environmental Decision-Making: A critical-thinking approach to 7 environmental challenges. This is a series of seven high quality instructional modules developed by researchers and instructional designers. The series, aimed at college and high school instructors, delivers science-based background information and the latest research on a variety of environmental concerns. The modules provide a refresher for the instructor on the scientific background of each environmental issue. Additionally, they promote teaching critical thinking through the inclusion of resources and activities for use in the classroom. Environmental decision-making—it sounds complicated. It sounds like something that should be left to the experts. And environmental issues can be complicated. But environmental decision-making in a society shares some of the key processes that individuals use to make shared decisions on a daily basis. If we compare the societal decision-making process to that of a family, the issue becomes a much more manageable concept. Picture a typical family problem—a 16- year-old gets his driver’s license and his parents have told him that he will need to pay for his own gas and car insurance. Until now, his weekly allowance from household chores has been adequate for his expenses. He decides to get a part-time job to pay for the extra expense of driving a car, and his parents approve—a fairly straightforward problem, decision, and resolution. More often, however, solutions are not this simple. What may at first seem like a straightforward decision can be affected by variables that complicate the matter considerably. Imagine the same basic problem, this time with added factors. In this family, one parent works second shift and the other parent takes frequent business trips. The 16-year-old boy has the responsibility of watching a 10-year-old sibling most evenings, and a part-time job would require that he work in the evenings. In this instance, there are more people involved in the problem—more stakeholders. The solution in this case is less obvious and will need to respond to the concerns of all stakeholders. Read More

Fostering Reasonableness: Supportive Environments for Bringing out our Best

We humans are difficult animals. We are the source of environmental degradation, the culprits of resource decline. We are reluctant to trust and easily angered. However, we are also the source of inspiration, compassion, and creative solutions. What brings out the reasonable side of our capacity? The Reasonable Person Model (RPM) offers a simple framework for considering essential ingredients in how people, at their best, deal with one another and the resources on which we all rely. RPM is a hopeful and engaging framework that helps us understand and address a wide diversity of issues. The 20 chapters of Fostering Reasonableness provide the conceptual foundations of the framework and applications examining contexts as diverse as a region, organization, the classroom, finding common ground in resource planning, education in the prison environment, greening in the inner city. Our collective hope in putting the book together is to encourage a way of seeing, a way of understanding and examining circumstances that might lead to more wholesome, adaptive, and effective means of addressing the big and little issues that depend on humanity’s reasonableness. Read More

BioEarth: Envisioning and developing a new regional earth system model to inform natural and agricultural resource management

As managers of agricultural and natural resources are confronted with uncertainties in global change impacts, the complexities associated with the interconnected cycling of nitrogen, carbon, and water present daunting management challenges. Existing models provide detailed information on specific sub-systems (e.g., land, air, water, and economics). An increasing awareness of the unintended consequences of management decisions resulting from interconnectedness of these sub-systems, however, necessitates coupled regional earth system models (EaSMs). Decision makers’ needs and priorities can be integrated into the model design and development processes to enhance decision-making relevance and “usability” of EaSMs. BioEarth is a research initiative currently under development with a focus on on the U.S. Pacific Northwest region that explores the coupling of multiple stand-alone EaSMs to generate usable information for resource decision-making. Direct engagement between model developers and non-academic stakeholders involved in resource and environmental management decisions throughout the model development process is a critical component of this effort. BioEarth utilizes a bottom-up approach for its land surface model that preserves fine spatial-scale sensitivities and lateral hydrologic connectivity, which makes it unique among many regional EaSMs. This paper describes the BioEarth initiative and highlights opportunities and challenges associated with coupling multiple stand-alone models to generate usable information for agricultural and natural resource decision-making. Read More

Collaboration in NEPA: A Handbook for NEPA Practitioners

This handbook is a collaboration of research and consultations by the Council on Environmental Quality concerning analyses prepared under the National Environmental Protection Act. This guide introduces interested parties to collaborative principles, and includes suggestions for successful collaborative efforts. Read More

Annual Report on the Environment, the Sound Material-Cycle Society and the Biodiversity 2009

The white paper on comprehensive environmental policy describes the role of Japan’s economy in a sound global environment. In the first part, the report describes current the environmental conditions of the Earth and of Japan, human activities in Japan and overseas, their environmental impacts, and the pathway to the environmental century. The second part of the white paper reports on various measures. Read More

Proposed National Objectives, Principles and Standards for Water and Related Resources Implementation Studies

This document reflects planning efforts by the Executive Office of the President to design federal policy for the use of water resources. Read More

A Decision-Making Tool to Support Integration of Sustainable Technologies in Refurbishment Projects

An eight-page building simulation explaining the aim of the European SSHORT (Sustainable Social Housing Refurbishment Technologies) project, which is to increase and promote rational and efficient use of energy in the retrofitting of social housing buildings. In this scope, one step was to develop a specific multi-criteria decision-making tool to support decisionmakers in choosing the most adequate energy technological solutions for refurbishment in Europe. The tool (System Selection Tool) is based on a method for multi-criteria evaluation of combinatorial systems. The tool aims at an energy system as a combination of technical solutions. Different possible technical solutions are positioned in an output and compared with existing configuration of the project according to a multi-criteria profile. This paper will present the methodology, the structure, the assessment and setting preference methods included in the tool. Refers to specific software tools that may not be available. Read More

Climate and Global Change Interagency Inventory Data Sheet

The Climate and Global Change Interagency Inventory Data Sheet (dtd August 2002) is a working document that includes information provided by federal agencies regarding their climate and global change research activities. The data differ in some respects from information reported in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 and FY 2003 editions of Our Changing Planet, the annual U.S. Global Change Research Program report to Congress. Some of these discrepancies are the result of differences between requested and enacted levels of funding. In addition, some programs in the President’s FY03 request as part of CCRI were not labeled as CCRI programs in the inventory. (links posted 5 December 2002) Read More

Earth System Governance: People, Places, and the Planet

Earth system governance is defined in this project as the interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies towards preventing, mitigating, and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation, within the normative context of sustainable development. The notion of governance refers here to forms of steering that are less hierarchical than traditional governmental policy-making (even though most modern governance arrangements will also include some degree of hierarchy), rather decentralized, open to self-organization, and inclusive of non-state actors that range from industry and non-governmental organizations to scientists, indigenous communities, city governments and international organizations. Read More

Climate Change 1995: IPCC Second Assessment Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) completed its Second Assessment Report (SAR) in December 1995. The SAR consists of four parts: the IPCC Second Assessment Synthesis of Scientific-Technical Information Relevant to Interpreting Article 2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Report of Working Group I of the IPCC, the Science of Climate Change, with a Summary for Policymakers (SPM); the Report of Working Group II of the IPCC, Scientific-Technical Analyses of Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change, with SPM; the Report of Working Group III of the IPCC, the Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change, with SPM. Read More


EERL's mission is to be the best possible online collection of environmental and energy sustainability resources for community college educators and for their students. The resources are also available for practitioners and the public.


EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

Contact ATEEC 563.441.4087 or by email ateec@eicc.edu