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Modelling the valuesphere and the ecosphere: Integrating the decision makers’ perspectives into LCA

  • Patrick Hofstetter
  • Thomas Baumgartner
  • Roland W. Scholz
The MIIM LCA PhD Club

Abstract

Methods for Life Cycle Impact Assessment have to cope with two critical aspects, the uncertainty in values and the (unknown) system behaviour. LCA methodology should cope explicitly with these subjective elements. A structured aggregation procedure is proposed that differentiates between the technosphere and the ecosphere and embeds them in the valuesphere. LCA thus becomes a decision support system that models and combines these three spheres. We introduce three structurally identical types of LCA, each based on one coherent but different set of values. These sets of values can be derived from the Cultural Theory and are labeled as ‘egalitarian’, ‘individualistic’, and ‘hierarchic’. Within Life Cycle Impact Assessment, a damage oriented assessment model is complemented with both a newly developed precautionary indicator designed to address unknown damage and an indicator for the manageability of environmental damages. The indicators for unknown damage and for manageability complete the set of indicators judged to be relevant by decision makers. The weights given to these indicators are also value-dependent. The framework proposed here answers the criticisms that present LCA methodology does not strictly enough separate subjective from objective elements and that it fails to accurately model environmental impacts.

Keywords

Assessment framework cultural bias, Cultural Theory decision support system ecosphere known damage Life Cycle Assessment Life Cycle Impact Assessment manageability perspectives precautionary principle uncertainty assessment unknown damage value frames valuesphere 

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Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ORISE Research FellowNational Risk Management Research LaboratoryUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesNatural and Social Science Interface (UNS)Zurich

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