Environmental Decision-making

Consensus, or coming to agreement, is how a group of people can make a choice.  Another way to arrive at a decision is for one person to make the choice.  When it comes to the environment, consensus is difficult to achieve.  The environment is everywhere.  It is complicated.  It affects everyone and every nation.  The complexity and scale of the issues make it difficult to agree on what the problem is, what the solution should be and what action to take, especially on a world-scale where there are many factors that stress differences rather than what people have in common.  Even at the local level, opinions cause conflict.  Certain situations call for group decisions, others are more appropriate for a sole leader to choose or an individual to make personal a personal choice.  This section includes major achievements in consensus and leadership on environmental protection; international treaties, reports and assessments, government legislation – proposed and current, and examples of regional, local and other movements.

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Technological Nightmares (Lecture): Note on the “Precautionary Principle” Last Updated on 2014-07-01 15:53:44       Series: Pardee Center Distinguished Lecture Series Date: October 2003 Location: Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, Boston University, Boston, MA There are two points of view when we face risk and uncertainties in our research. One is based on the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle says that when there is any risk of a major disaster, no action should be permitted that increases the risk. If, as so often happens, an action promises to bring substantial benefits together with some risk of a major disaster, no balancing of benefits against risks is to be allowed. Any action carrying a risk of a major disaster must be prohibited, regardless of the costs of prohibition. The opposing point of view holds that risks are unavoidable, that no possible course of action or inaction will eliminate risks, and that a... More »
National Forest System (NFS) Roadless Area Initiatives Last Updated on 2014-07-01 15:36:04 Roadless areas in the U.S.National Forest System (NFS) have received special attention for decades. Many want to protect their relatively pristine condition; others want to use the areas in more developed ways. Two different roadless area policies have been offered in the last decade. On January 12, 2001, the Clinton Administration’s roadless area policy established a nationwide approach to managing roadless areas in the National Forest System to protect their pristine conditions. The Nationwide Rule, as it will be called in this report, generally prohibited road construction and reconstruction and timber harvesting in 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas, with significant exceptions. The Bush Administration initially postponed the effective date of the Nationwide Rule, then issued its own rule that allowed states to plan how roadless areas were managed. It issued a... More »
Total economic valuation of threatened and endangered species Last Updated on 2014-06-28 17:32:13 [Authorship attribution for this article should be cited as John Loomis, Leslie Richardson and Arthur Edwards] Protecting  habitats for species threatened with or in danger of extinction is often aided by demonstrating the economic benefits to such protection comparable to the benefits of  developing the habitat. The financial returns to commercial development are often obvious and concentrated in the hands of a few. The benefits of protecting threatened and endangered species (T&E) are widespread to hundreds of millions, if not several billion people on the planet. However, if the monetary benefits of protecting T&E species are not measured, then it appears that commercial development is of greater economic use than preservation of the habitat. This feeds the false dichotomy of the “economy versus the environment”. This article will show, the... More »
Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends: Urban Systems Last Updated on 2014-06-28 17:05:25 This is Chapter 27 of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment report Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends Coordinating Lead Authors: Gordon McGranahan, Peter Marcotullio Lead Authors: Xuemei Bai, Deborah Balk, Tania Braga, Ian Douglas, Thomas Elmqvist, William Rees, David Satterthwaite, Jacob Songsore, Hania Zlotnik Review Editors: Jerry Eades, Exequiel Ezcurra Main Messages Urbanization and urban growth continue to be major demographic trends. The world’s urban population increased from about 200 million (~15% of world population) in 1900 to 2.9 billion (~50% of world population) in 2000, and the number of cities with populations in excess of 1 million increased from 17 in 1900 to 388 in 2000. As people are increasingly living in cities, and as cities act as both human ecosystem habitats and drivers of ecosystem change, it will become increasingly... More »
Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 Last Updated on 2013-10-29 21:21:58 The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP)* announced at the Rio+20 Summit on June 17, 2012. the launch of the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 (IWR 2012). The report measures the wealth of nations. Download PDF | Read more about the report The report presents a new economic index, which looks beyond the traditional short term economic and development yardsticks of gross domestic product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI). The Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) assesses changes in a country’s productive base, including produced, human, and natural capital over time. By taking a more holistic approach, the IWI shows governments the true state of their nation’s wealth and the sustainability of its growth. Twenty countries were assessed in the IWR 2012 over a period of 19 years (1990-2008). Together they represent more than half of... More »