Principles Of Environmental Science And Technology Pdf


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Principles of Environmental Science

The precautionary principle or precautionary approach is a broad epistemological , philosophical and legal approach to innovations with potential for causing harm when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. It emphasizes caution, pausing and review before leaping into new innovations that may prove disastrous. In an engineering context, the precautionary principle manifests itself as the factor of safety , discussed in detail in the monograph of Elishakoff.

Interrelation between safety factor and reliability [5] [4] [6] is extensively studied by engineers and philosophers. The principle is often used by policy makers in situations where there is the possibility of harm from making a certain decision e. For example, a government may decide to limit or restrict the widespread release of a medicine or new technology until it has been thoroughly tested.

The principle acknowledges that while the progress of science and technology has often brought great benefit to humanity, it has also contributed to the creation of new threats and risks. It implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to such harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk.

These protections should be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result. The principle has become an underlying rationale for a large and increasing number of international treaties and declarations in the fields of sustainable development, environmental protection, health, trade and food safety, [7] although at times it has attracted debate over how to accurately define it and apply it to complex scenarios with multiple risks.

In some legal systems, as in law of the European Union , the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement in some areas of law.

The concept "precautionary principle" is generally considered to have arisen in English from a translation of the German term Vorsorgeprinzip in the s in response to forest degradation and sea pollution , where German lawmakers adopted clean air act banning use of certain substances suspected in causing the environmental damage even though evidence of their impact was inconclusive at that time.

In , Konrad von Moltke described the German concept for a British audience, which he translated into English as the precautionary principle. In economics, the Precautionary Principle has been analyzed in terms of "the effect on rational decision-making", of "the interaction of irreversibility " and " uncertainty ". Authors such as Epstein [11] and Arrow and Fischer [12] show that "irreversibility of possible future consequences" creates a "quasi- option effect" which should induce a " risk -neutral" society to favour current decisions that allow for more flexibility in the future.

Gollier et al. The principle was also derived from religious beliefs that particular areas of science and technology should be restricted as they "belong to the realm of God", as postulated by Prince Charles and Pope Benedict XVI.

Many definitions of the precautionary principle exist: Precaution may be defined as "caution in advance", "caution practiced in the context of uncertainty", or informed prudence. Two ideas lie at the core of the principle: [14] : One of the primary foundations of the precautionary principle, and globally accepted definitions, results from the work of the Rio Conference , or " Earth Summit " in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration notes: [15] [1]. In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.

Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. In Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle was convened by the Science and Environmental Health Network and concluded with the following formulation, [16] described by Stewart Brand as "the clearest and most frequently cited": [9].

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. In February , the Commission of the European Communities noted in a Communication from the Commission on the Precautionary Principle that, "The precautionary principle is not defined in the Treaties of the European Union , which prescribes it [the Precautionary Principle] only once — to protect the environment.

But in practice, its scope is much wider, and specifically where preliminary-objective-scientific-evaluation indicates that there are reasonable grounds for concern that potentially dangerous effects on the environment, human, animal or [and] plant health may be inconsistent with the high level of protection [for what] chosen for the Community.

The January Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety says, in regard to controversies over GMOs : "Lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient relevant scientific information Various interests being represented by various groups proposing the principle resulted in great variability of its formulation: one study identified 14 different formulations of the principle in treaties and non-treaty declarations. Stewart [20] reduced the precautionary principle to four basic versions:. Carolyn Raffensperger of the Wingspread convention placed the principle in opposition to approaches based on risk management and cost-benefit analysis.

You are not allowed to balance costs against benefits when deciding what to do. As noted by Rupert and O'Riordan, the challenge in application of the principle is "in making it clear that absence of certainty, or there being insufficient evidence-based analysis, were not impediments to innovation, so long as there was no reasonable likelihood of serious harm".

A balanced application should ensure that "precautionary measures should be" only taken "during early stages" and as "relevant scientific evidence becomes established", regulatory measures should only respond to that evidence.

Strong precaution holds that regulation is required whenever there is a possible risk to health, safety, or the environment, even if the supporting evidence is speculative and even if the economic costs of regulation are high. The widely publicised Wingspread Declaration, from a meeting of environmentalists in , is another example of the strong version.

Weak precaution holds that lack of scientific evidence does not preclude action if damage would otherwise be serious and irreversible. According to a publication by the New Zealand Treasury Department,. The weak version [of the Precautionary Principle] is the least restrictive and allows preventive measures to be taken in the face of uncertainty, but does not require them e. To satisfy the threshold of harm, there must be some evidence relating to both the likelihood of occurrence and the severity of consequences.

Some, but not all, require consideration of the costs of precautionary measures. Weak formulations do not preclude weighing benefits against the costs. Factors other than scientific uncertainty, including economic considerations, may provide legitimate grounds for postponing action. Under weak formulations, the requirement to justify the need for action the burden of proof generally falls on those advocating precautionary action.

No mention is made of assignment of liability for environmental harm. Strong versions justify or require precautionary measures and some also establish liability for environmental harm, which is effectively a strong form of "polluter pays". For example, the Earth Charter states: "When knowledge is limited apply a precautionary approach Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.

Requiring proof of "no environmental harm" before any action proceeds implies the public is not prepared to accept any environmental risk, no matter what economic or social benefits may arise Peterson, At the extreme, such a requirement could involve bans and prohibitions on entire classes of potentially threatening activities or substances Cooney, Over time, there has been a gradual transformation of the precautionary principle from what appears in the Rio Declaration to a stronger form that arguably [by whom] acts as restraint on development in the absence of firm evidence that it will do no harm.

No introduction to the precautionary principle would be complete without brief reference to the difference between the precautionary principle and the precautionary approach. Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration states that: "in order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.

Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall be not used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. In the negotiations of international declarations, the United States has opposed the use of the term principle because this term has special connotations in legal language, due to the fact that a principle of law is a source of law.

This means that it is compulsory, so a court can quash or confirm a decision through the application of the precautionary principle. In this sense, the precautionary principle is not a simple idea or a desideratum but a source of law. This is the legal status of the precautionary principle in the European Union. On the other hand, an 'approach' usually does not have the same meaning, although in some particular cases an approach could be binding.

A precautionary approach is a particular "lens" used to identify risk that every prudent person possesses Recuerda, [26]. On 2 February , the European Commission issued a Communication on the precautionary principle, [17] in which it adopted a procedure for the application of this concept, but without giving a detailed definition of it. Paragraph 2 of article of the Lisbon Treaty states that.

Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay. After the adoption of the European Commission's communication on the precautionary principle, the principle has come to inform much EU policy, including areas beyond environmental policy.

As of it had been integrated into EU laws "in matters such as general product safety, the use of additives for use in animal nutrition, the incineration of waste, and the regulation of genetically modified organisms". In France, the Charter for the Environment contains a formulation of the precautionary principle article 5 :.

When the occurrence of any damage, albeit unpredictable in the current state of scientific knowledge, may seriously and irreversibly harm the environment, public authorities shall, with due respect for the principle of precaution and the areas within their jurisdiction, ensure the implementation of procedures for risk assessment and the adoption of temporary measures commensurate with the risk involved in order to preclude the occurrence of such damage.

The most important Australian court case so far, due to its exceptionally detailed consideration of the precautionary principle, is Telstra Corporation Limited v Hornsby Shire Council. The principle was summarised by reference to the NSW Protection of the Environment Administration Act , which itself provides a good definition of the principle: [35].

In the application of the principle The most significant points of Justice Preston's decision are the following findings: [36].

A petition filed 17 May by environmental group Greenpeace Southeast Asia and farmer-scientist coalition Masipag Magsasaka at Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura asked the appellate court to stop the planting of Bt eggplant in test fields, saying the impacts of such an undertaking to the environment, native crops and human health are still unknown.

The Court of Appeals granted the petition, citing the precautionary principle stating "when human activities may lead to threats of serious and irreversible damage to the environment that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish the threat.

Body Shop International , a UK-based cosmetics company, included the precautionary principle in their chemicals strategy. The precautionary principle is often applied to biological fields because changes cannot be easily contained and have the potential of being global. The principle has less relevance to contained fields such as aeronautics , where the few people undergoing risk have given informed consent e. In the case of technological innovation, containment of impact tends to be more difficult if that technology can self-replicate.

Bill Joy emphasised the dangers of replicating genetic technology, nanotechnology, and robotic technology in his article in Wired , " Why the future doesn't need us ", though he does not specifically cite the precautionary principle. The application of the principle can be seen in the public policy of requiring pharmaceutical companies to carry out clinical trials to show that new medications are safe.

Oxford based philosopher Nick Bostrom discusses the idea of a future powerful superintelligence , and the risks should it attempt to gain atomic level control of matter. Application of the principle modifies the status of innovation and risk assessment : it is not the risk that must be avoided or amended, but a potential risk that must be prevented.

Thus, in the case of regulation of scientific research, there is a third party beyond the scientist and the regulator: the consumer. In an analysis concerning application of the precautionary principle to nanotechnology , Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder posit that there are two forms of the principle, which they call the "strict form" and the "active form".

Several natural resources like fish stocks are now managed by precautionary approach, through harvest control rules HCRs based upon the precautionary principle. The figure indicates how the principle is implemented in the cod fisheries management proposed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In classifying endangered species , the precautionary principle means that if there is doubt about an animal's or plant's exact conservation status , the one that would cause the strongest protective measures to be realised should be chosen.

Thus, a species like the silvery pigeon that might exist in considerable numbers and simply be under-recorded or might just as probably be long extinct is not classified as "data deficient" or "extinct" which both do not require any protective action to be taken , but as "critically endangered" the conservation status that confers the need for the strongest protection , whereas the increasingly rare, but probably not yet endangered emerald starling is classified as "data deficient", because there is urgent need for research to clarify its status rather than for conservation action to save it from extinction.

If, for example, a large ground-water body that people use for drinking water is contaminated by bacteria e-coli H7, campylobacter or leptospirosis and the source of contamination is strongly suspected to be dairy cows but the exact science is not yet able to provide absolute proof, the cows should be removed from the environment until they are proved, by the dairy industry, not to be the source or until that industry ensures that such contamination will not recur.

Appeals to the precautionary principle have often characterized the debates concerning animal sentience — that is, the question of whether animals are able to feel "subjective experiences with an attractive or aversive quality", [46] such as pain, pleasure, happiness, or joy — in relation to the question of whether we should legally protect sentient animals.

A version of the precautionary principle suitable for the problem of animal sentience has been proposed by LSE philosopher Jonathan Birch: "The idea is that when the evidence of sentience is inconclusive, we should 'give the animal the benefit of doubt' or 'err on the side of caution' in formulating animal protection legislation.

Where there are threats of serious, negative animal welfare outcomes, lack of full scientific certainty as to the sentience of the animals in question shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent those outcomes.

This version of the precautionary principle consists of an epistemic and a decision rule. The former concerns the "evidential bar" that should be required for animal sentience. In other words, how much evidence of sentience is necessary before one decides to apply precautionary measures?

According to Birch, only some evidence would be sufficient, which means that the evidential bar should be set at low levels. Birch proposes to consider the evidence that certain animals are sentient sufficient whenever "statistically significant evidence [ This is due to the fact that, on the one hand, "to investigate sentience separately in different orders" is feasible, [46] whereas on the other hand, since some orders include thousands of species, it would be unfeasible to study their sentience separately.

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The precautionary principle or precautionary approach is a broad epistemological , philosophical and legal approach to innovations with potential for causing harm when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. It emphasizes caution, pausing and review before leaping into new innovations that may prove disastrous. In an engineering context, the precautionary principle manifests itself as the factor of safety , discussed in detail in the monograph of Elishakoff. Interrelation between safety factor and reliability [5] [4] [6] is extensively studied by engineers and philosophers. The principle is often used by policy makers in situations where there is the possibility of harm from making a certain decision e. For example, a government may decide to limit or restrict the widespread release of a medicine or new technology until it has been thoroughly tested. The principle acknowledges that while the progress of science and technology has often brought great benefit to humanity, it has also contributed to the creation of new threats and risks.

Through comprehensive research and interdisciplinary studies, students at our university are challenged to address a broad array of rapidly changing environmental problems that are posing significant challenges to sustaining biodiversity in the world today. Environmental geography is an aspect of geography that delves into the relationship, including the social, economic and spatial interconnections, between people and their environments. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Enterprising students use this website to learn AP class material, study for class quizzes and tests, and to brush up on course material before the big exam day. Others may choose. I had just left home when I realized I had forgotten my books so I went. They deal with environmental issues pertaining to certain geographical areas in North America, as well as international and universal applications.


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The journal advances rigorous scholarship on complex environmental phenomena, particularly with respect to fate, transport, and transformation in natural and engineered systems, while simultaneously facilitating the solution of critical environmental problems. A full description of each manuscript type is shown below:. Research Article length limit: 7, word-equivalents. This includes chemical, biological, and physical phenomena in natural and engineered environmental systems, as well as mathematical and computational methods that are directly relevant to the understanding, protecting, restoring, and managing of the natural environment, including eliminating, minimizing, and mitigating human impacts.

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Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. The goal that all students should learn about the relationships among science, technology, and society known by the abbreviation STS came to prominence in the United Kingdom and the United States in the early s. The individual most closely associated with this movement is Robert Yager, who has written extensively on the topic e.

Since this chapter is the backbone for chapters to follow, it would be detrimental to not spend ample time on the concepts that are so vital to the foundation of environmental science. Chapter 4 Notesheet. Air pollution can be high in parts of North America and Europe, but it has improved slightly over the past decade with new environmental regulations and progress in technology. In , soil in the prairie states averages 14 inches of topsoil. Environmental engineering is the branch of engineering that is concerned with protecting people from the effects of adverse environmental effects. Environmental Science: Sustaining Your World was created specifically for your high school environmental science course. Bio geochemical cycles.

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EDWARD N. ZIEGLER. FIFTH EDITION. VOLUME 1 A-L. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF. ENVIRONMENTAL. SCIENCE and. ENGINEERING. Boca Raton Lo.


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