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Results of a modeling workshop concerning economic and environmental trends and concomitant resource management issues in the Mobile Bay area

January 1, 1982

During the past decade, the southern regions of the U.S. have experienced rapid change which is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Growth in population, industry, and resource development has been attributed to a variety of advantages such as an abundant and inexpensive labor force, a mild climate, and the availability of energy, water, land, and other natural resources. While this growth has many benefits for the region, it also creates the potential for increased air, water, and solid waste pollution, and modification of natural habitats.

A workshop was convened to consider the Mobile Bay area as a site-specific case of growth and its environmental consequences in the southern region. The objectives of the modeling workshop were to: (1) identify major factors of economic development as they relate to growth in the area over the immediate and longer term; (2) identify major environmental and resource management issues associated with this expected growth; and (3) identify and characterize the complex interrelationships among economic and environmental factors. This report summarizes the activities and results of a modeling workshop concerning economic growth and concomitant resource management issues in the Mobile Bay area.

The workshop was organized around construction of a simulation model representing the relationships between a series of actions and indicators identified by participants. The workshop model had five major components. An Industry Submodel generated scenarios of growth in several industrial and transportation sectors. A Human Population/Economy Submodel calculated human population and economic variables in response to employment opportunities. A Land Use/Air Quality Submodel tabulated changes in land use, shoreline use, and air quality. A Water Submodel calculated indicators of water quality and quantity for fresh surface water, ground water, and Mobile Bay based on discharge information provided by the Industry and Human Population/Economy Submodels. Finally, a Fish Submodel calculated indicators of habitat quality for finfish and shellfish, utilizing information on water quality and wetlands acreage.

The workshop was successful in identifying many of the critical interrelations between components of the Mobile area system. Not all of those interactions, such as the feedback of air quality as a limitation on development, could be incorporated into the workshop model because of the model's broad spatial scale and because of uncertainties or data gaps. Thus, the value of the modeling workshop was in the areas outlines below, rather than in the predictive power of the initial model developed at the workshop.

First, participants developed a holistic perspective on the interactions which will determine future economic and environmental trends within the Mobile Bay area. Potential environmental consequences and limitations to grown identified at the workshop included: shoreline and water access; water quality of Mobile Bay; finfish and shellfish habitat quality with respect to dissolved oxygen and coliforms; air quality; and acreage of critical wetland habitat. Second, the model's requirements for specific, quantitative information stimulated supporting analyses, such as economic input-output calculations, which provide additional insight into the Mobile Bay area system. Third, the perspective of the Mobile area as an interacting system was developed in an open, cooperative forum which my provide a foundation for conflict resolution based on common understanding. Finally, the identification of model limitations and uncertainties should be useful in guiding the efficient allocation of future research effort.

Publication Year 1982
Title Results of a modeling workshop concerning economic and environmental trends and concomitant resource management issues in the Mobile Bay area
Authors David B. Hamilton, Austin K. Andrews, Gregor T. Auble, Richard A. Ellison, Richard A. Johnson, James E. Roelle, Michael J. Staley
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Index ID 70120392
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse