About Economy Map

Economy Map is an interactive visual map of the United States economy and its environmental impacts.  It provides a way to dynamically explore and understand the sources and flow of goods, services, and environmental impacts among major industrial sectors.  Economy Map is intended, first and foremost, as a resource for public interest advocates and policymakers, to help them identify and prioritize opportunities to reduce environmental impacts.  It also serves as an educational resource for broader audiences.  Economy Map is a work in progress.  Currently, the data displayed are incomplete (see disclaimers below) and reflect outdated (1998) financial and environmental information.  We seek to continuously update and refine the data and interface.

Environmental Impacts

Economy Map includes information about a range of environmental impacts of each major industrial sector.  For each impact category (e.g. Land Use Change, Global Warming, Acidification), users can visually see the relative contribution of each sector.  In the grid display mode, users can click on a sector to reveal more detailed environmental information, including its relative rank, among all industrial sectors, as a contributor of environmental impacts. Each sector is profiled according to three distinct perspectives on environmental impact.

Three Perspectives

Direct impacts are those generated directly by the activities of a sector.  Sectors with high direct impacts are candidates for direct regulation by government.
Intermediate impacts combine direct impacts with upstream impacts generated by a sector’s demand for goods and services.  Sectors with high intermediate impacts are candidates for supply chain engagement.
Final consumption impacts are the portion of total (intermediate) impacts associated with goods and services sold to consumers or the government.  Sectors with high final consumption impacts are good candidates for environmentally preferable purchasing.

Data Sources

Financial data are drawn from ‘use’ tables published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the US Department of Commerce.  Environmental data are drawn from Sustainable Materials Management: The Road Ahead, a report from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).  The report includes an economy-wide study that identifies the relative contribution of each industrial sector to major environmental categories.  The study makes use of output from the CEDA 3.0 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Economic Input/Output (EIO) database developed by Dr. Sangwon Suh.  Impact category descriptions are adapted from the ISO LCA handbook by Guinee et al.  Forthcoming versions of Economy Map 2.0 will directly integrate data from the updated CEDA 4.0, which includes data from 2002.  Further integration of Economy Map and CEDA is planned with the release of CEDA 5.0, which will include data from 2007.


As noted, Economy Map is a work in progress.  It is intended primarily to demonstrate a conceptual approach to visualizing the US economy and its environmental impacts.  The author(s) assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of Economy Map. Your use of Economy Map is at your own risk.  Economy Map will become increasingly robust as it incorporates data to address, at a minimum:

In the future, Economy Map may be expanded to identify and prioritize policy opportunities in areas other than environmental impacts.

Software Platform

Economy Map has been developed using Processing, an open source programming language and environment designed for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions.
Economy Map is designed to be delivered online, but free-standing Mac and Windows beta versions are also available.  In the long term, Economy Map may be released under an open source license to encourage collaborative ongoing development.

Contact Information

Economy Map is an independent project initiated by Jason Pearson.  Currently, all content is copyright Jason Pearson.  Questions and comments may be directed to info_at_economymap_dot_org.