2.6 Focusing on impacts
Many environmental innovations have tended to focus on impacts, whether of a product or of an organisation. This is a very common way in which connections are conceptualised: an organisation does X and then the impact on the natural environment is Y (even if Y is difficult to measure and model). The term ‘impact’ tends to be interpreted as a negative, but impacts can also be positive. For example, a wind turbine might have negative impacts in terms of visual amenity, noise to nearby households and communities, and be implicated in bird deaths, but might have positive impacts to humans and the natural environment in terms of electricity generation.
We can therefore think of an impact as any change to the natural environment and also the human environment. In other words, impacts are a key part of determining and shaping human–environment relations.