Landscape esthetics: How to quantify the scenics of a river valley

Natural History


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There are an increasing number of bills before Congress that in one way or another affect the landscape or the environment. Each of these requires seemingly endless numbers of congressional hearings, which are recorded upon endless reams of paper.

And if, for some reason, you happen to read the voluminous testimony surrounding one of these environment-affecting proposals, you will generally find a marked contrast between the volume and kind of information presented by those who are pressing for technical development - building a dam, constructing a highway, installing a nuclear power plant - and the testimony of those who either oppose the development or wish to alter it in some way. The developer usually employs numerical arguments, which tend to show that there is an economic benefit to be obtained by constructing something - whatever that something may be. The argument is usually expressed in terms of a "cost-benefit ratio." It is typically argued, for instance, that the construction cost of a given project will be repaid over a period of time and will yield a profit or a benefit in excess of the development costs by a ratio of, let us say, 1.2 to 1. The argument is further supported with great numbers of charts, graphs, tables, and additional figures.

In marked contrast, those who favor protection of the environment against development are fewer in number, their statements are based on emotion or personal feelings, and they usually lack numerical information, quantitative data, and detailed computations. Perhaps this is the reason why this latter group seems to be continually fighting rearguard actions - losing battle after battle.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Landscape esthetics: How to quantify the scenics of a river valley
Series title Natural History
Issue October 1969
Year Published 1969
Language English
Publisher American Museum of Natural History
Description 8 p.
First page 37
Last page 44
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