|Hauhs, M; Lange, H: Was ist ein ökologischer Schaden? Ein Ansatz für die Bestimmung virtueller Standards, Theorie in der Ökologie, Peter Lang, Frankfurt/Main, 10, 25-50 (2004)|
The notion of an ecological damage has so far neither been given a proper theoretical nor a pragmatic or operational foundation. Yet one of the most widespread motivations for the scientific study of ecosystems is a ”protectional“ one by which an improved scientific understanding is sought in order to be able to prevent future ecological damages. We review the possibilities of valuating changes as a damage in the environment, in health or in ecosystems. The conceptual separation of potential from actual behavior/structure is a prerequisite to any of these options. The critical point here is the formal and empirical basis for knowledge about these potentials. We contrast the dynamic systems theory approach derived from physics with an interactive computing approach recently developed in computer science. The former requires to distinguish facts and values and leads to notorious difficulties when applied at the ecosystem level. The latter and novel approach opens the possibility for a consistent definition of a damage at the ecosystem level whenever a tradition of (sustainable) utilization of such systems is available. The documentation, actualization and dissemination of the tacit (expert) knowledge can be improved by the use of interactive simulations in which a virtual standard can be defined by the respective experts themselves. Keywords: Ecological damage, virtual standards, tacit knowledge
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