WHAT IS Magnitude?

MAGNITUDE: the scope or size of an impact

scope: extent of treatment, activity, or influence (Merriam Webster)

size: physical magnitude, extent, or bulk (Merriam Webster)

Magnitude is the most common form of impact comparison. This is often because you can compare impacts based on quantitative measurements, or in layman’s terms, numbers.

Example: Another oil spill in the Gulf Coast will wipe out the coastal ecosystem, destroying the environment and the economic activity tied to it. This is more important than the lost jobs from the oil industry, which will survive with or without offshore drilling.

Wording to use: “bigger/smaller than”, “broader/narrower than”, “more important/significant than”, “More far-reaching/smaller scope”

Magnitude is the easiest comparison to articulate because you can usually quantify the impact. Remember that magnitude can be qualitative too. Just because you can’t assign a number to your impact does not mean it does not have a big effect. Judges most easily understand magnitude. Given this, if you don’t think magnitude is important, you want to explicitly say, “ignore magnitude” and explain why timeframe or probability is more important.


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