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Encyclopedia > Precautionary principle

The precautionary principle is a moral and political principle which states that if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action.-1... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political philosophy is the study of fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what... Irreversibility is that property of an event which makes reverting back to the state before the occurrence of the event impossible. ... Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of science at a particular time. ...


The precautionary principle is most often applied in the context of the impact of human actions on the environment and human health, as both involve complex systems where the consequences of actions may be unpredictable. Health is the level of functional and/or metabolic efficiency of an organism at both the micro(cellular) and macro(social) level. ... There are many definitions of complexity, therefore many natural, artificial and abstract objects or networks can be considered to be complex systems, and their study (complexity science) is highly interdisciplinary. ...


As applied to environmental policy, the precautionary principle stipulates that for practices such as the release of radiation or toxins, massive deforestation or overpopulation, the burden of proof lies with the advocates. [7] An important element of the precautionary principle is that its most meaningful applications pertain to those that are potentially irreversible, for example where biodiversity may be reduced. With respect to bans on substances like mercury in thermometers, freon in refrigeration, or even carbon dioxide exhaust from automobile engines and power plants, it implies: Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land use such as arable land, pasture, urban use, logged area or wasteland. ... Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ... Rainforests are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth Biodiversity is the variation of taxonomic life forms within a given ecosystem, biome or for the entire Earth. ...

"... a willingness to take action in advance of scientific proof [or] evidence of the need for the proposed action on the grounds that further delay will prove ultimately most costly to society and nature, and, in the longer term, selfish and unfair to future generations." [8]

The concept includes ethical responsibilities towards maintaining the integrity of natural systems, and the fallibility of human understanding.


Some environmental commentators take a more stringent interpretation of the precautionary principle, stating that proponents of a new potentially harmful technology must show the new technology is without major harm before the new technology is used.[citation needed]

Contents

Origins and theory

The formal concept evolved out of the German socio-legal tradition in the 1930s, centering on the concept of good household management. [9] In German the concept is Vorsorgeprinzip, which translates into English as precaution principle.


Many of the concepts underpinning the precautionary principle pre-date the term's inception. For example, the essence of the principle is captured in a number of cautionary aphorisms such as "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", "better safe than sorry", and "look before you leap".[10] The precautionary principle may also be interpreted as the evolution of the ancient medical principle of "first, do no harm" to apply to institutions and institutional decision-making processes rather than individuals. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means First, do no harm. ...


In economics, the precautionary principle has been analysed in terms of the effect on rational decision-making of the interaction of irreversibility and uncertainty. Authors such as Epstein (1980) and Arrow and Fischer (1974) show that irreversibility of possible future consequences creates a quasi-option effect which should induce a "risk-neutral" society to favor current decisions that allow for more flexibility in the future. Gollier et al (2000) conclude that "more scientific uncertainty as to the distribution of a future risk — that is, a larger variability of beliefs — should induce Society to take stronger prevention measures today. This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Irreversibility is that property of an event which makes reverting back to the state before the occurrence of the event impossible. ... Uncertainty is a term used in subtly different ways in a number of fields, including philosophy, statistics, economics, finance, insurance, psychology, engineering and science. ... In finance options are types of derivative contracts, including call options and put options, where the future payoffs to the buyer and seller of the contract are determined by the price of another security, such as a common stock. ... Lets talk about risk control strategies, anyone with more information and willing to share, please do so. ...


Application

The application of the precautionary principle is hampered by the wide range of interpretations placed on it. One study identified 14 different formulations of the principle in treaties and nontreaty declarations.[11] Another study reduced the precautionary principle to four basic versions:

  1. Scientific uncertainty should not automatically preclude regulation of activities that pose a potential risk of significant harm (Non-Preclusion PP).
  2. Regulatory controls should incorporate a margin of safety; activities should be limited below the level at which no adverse effect has been observed or predicted (Margin of Safety PP).
  3. Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be subject to best technology available requirements to minimize the risk of harm unless the proponent of the activity shows that they present no appreciable risk of harm (BAT PP).
  4. Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be prohibited unless the proponent of the activity shows that it presents no appreciable risk of harm (Prohibitory PP). [1]

In deciding how to apply the principle, analyses may use a cost-benefit analysis that factors in both the opportunity cost of not acting, and the option value of waiting for further information before acting. One of the difficulties of the application of the principle in modern policy-making is that there is often an irreducible conflict between different interests, so that the debate necessarily involves politics. Cost-benefit analysis is an important technique for project appraisal: the process of weighing the total expected costs against the total expected benefits of one or more actions in order to choose the best or most profitable option. ... In economics, opportunity cost, or economic cost, is the cost of something in terms of an opportunity forgone (and the benefits which could be received from that opportunity), or the most valuable forgone alternative (or highest-valued option forgone), i. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. ...


International agreements and declarations

The World Charter for Nature, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1982, was the first international endorsement of the precautionary principle. The principle was implemented in an international treaty as early as the 1987 Montreal Protocol, and among other international treaties and declarations [12] is reflected in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development). The largest Antarctic ozone hole recorded as of September 2000 For other similarly-named agreements, see Montreal Protocol (disambiguation). ... The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, often shortened to Rio Declaration, was a short document produced at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit. ... The Earth Summit (in Portuguese: Eco 92) is the informal and best-known name for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). ...


European Commission On 2 February 2000, the European Commission issued a Communication on the precautionary principle,[13] in which it adopted a procedure for the application this concept, but without giving a detailed definition of it. Earlier, the Maastricht Treaty adopted the principle as a fundamental element of environmental policy: Article III-233 of the draft Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe [14]: is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Commission seat in Brussels The European Commission (formally the Commission of the European Communities) is the executive body of the European Union. ... The constitutional treaty as signed in Rome on 29 October 2004 by representatives of the EU member states The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TECE), commonly referred to as the European Constitution, was an international treaty intended to create a new constitution for the European Union. ...

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 that in areas beyond that of environmental policy. It is implemented, for example, in the EU food law and also affects, among others, policies relating to consumer protection, trade and research, and technological development. While a comprehensive definition of the precautionary principle was never formally adopted by the EU, a working definition and implementation strategy for the EU context has been proposed in Fisher et al. (2006):


"Where, following an assessment of available scientific information, there are reasonable grounds for concern for the possibility of adverse effects but scientific uncertainty persists, provisional risk management measures based on a broad cost/benefit analysis whereby priority will be given to human health and the environment, necessary to ensure the chosen high level of protection in the Community and proportionate to this level of protection, may be adopted, pending further scientific information for a more comprehensive risk assessment, without having to wait until the reality and seriousness of those adverse effects become fully apparent".


USA On July, 18, 2005, the City of San Francisco passed a Precautionary Principle Purchasing ordinance, which requires the city to weigh the environmental and health costs of its $600 million in annual purchases – for everything from cleaning supplies to computers. Members of the Bay Area Working Group on the Precautionary Principle including the Breast Cancer Fund, helped bring this to fruition.


Corporate The Body Shop International, a UK-based cosmetics company, recently included the Precautionary Principle in their 2006 Chemicals Strategy.


Environment/health

Fields typically concerned by the precautionary principle are the possibility of:

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.g., a test pilot). In the case of technological innnovation, containment of impact tends to be more difficult if that technology can self-replicate. Bill Joy emphasized the dangers of replicating genetic technology, nano-technology, and robotic technology in his article in Wired Magazine, "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. Global mean surface temperatures 1850 to 2006 Mean surface temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earths atmosphere and oceans in recent decades and the projected... The Dodo, shown here in a 1651 illustration by Jan Savery, is an often-cited[1] example of modern extinction. ... Rainforests are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth Biodiversity is the variation of taxonomic life forms within a given ecosystem, biome or for the entire Earth. ... A genetically modified organism is an organism whose genetic material has been deliberately altered. ... Public health is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis. ... Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). ... It has been suggested that Asbestos fibers be merged into this article or section. ... Endocrine disruptors are exogenous substances that interfere with the endocrine system and disrupt the physiologic function of hormones. ... Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a very rare and incurable degenerative neurological disorder (brain disease) that is ultimately fatal. ... Biosafety: prevention of large-scale loss of biological integrity, focusing both on ecology and human health. ... Artificial Life, (commonly Alife or alife) is a field of study and art form that examines systems related to life, its processes and its evolution through simulations using computer models, robotics, and biochemistry [1] (called soft, hard, and wet approaches respectively[2]). Artificial life complements traditional Biology by trying to... In science, a molecule is a group of atoms in a definite arrangement held together by chemical bonds. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Containment refers to the foreign policy strategy of the United States in the early years of the Cold War in which it was to stop what it called the domino effect of nations moving politically towards Soviet Union-based communism, rather than European-American-based capitalism. ... Six F-16 Fighting Falcons with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team fly in delta formation in front of the Empire State Building. ... Lets talk about risk control strategies, anyone with more information and willing to share, please do so. ... Informed consent is a legal condition whereby a person can be said to have given consent based upon an appreciation and understanding of the facts and implications of an action. ... Test pilots are aviators who fly new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated. ... Bill Joy (left) with Paul Saffo. ... Wired is a full-color monthly magazine and on-line periodical published in San Francisco, California since March 1993. ... Why the future doesnt need us is an article by Bill Joy, Chief Scientist at Sun Microsystems. ... This is a list of pharmaceutical and biotech companies that are major manufacturers on global or national markets : Abbott Laboratories Able Laboratories Akzo Nobel Allergan Almirall Prodesfarma Alphapharm Altana (previously Byk Gulden) ALZA, part of Johnson & Johnson Amgen AstraZeneca, formed from the merger of Astra AB and Zeneca Group PLC... In health care, including medicine, a clinical trial (synonyms: clinical studies, research protocols, medical research) is the application of the scientific method to human health. ... A medication is a drug or substance taken to reduce symptoms or cure an illness or medical condition. ...


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. Risk assessment is a step in the risk management process. ... Consumers refers to individuals or households that purchase and use goods and services generated within the economy. ...


In an analysis concerning application of the precautionary principle to nano-technology, Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder posit that there are two forms of the principle, which they call the "strict form" and the "active form". The former "requires inaction when action might pose a risk", while the latter means "choosing less risky alternatives when they are available, and [...] taking responsibility for potential risks." A mite next to a gear chain produced using nanotechnology Nanotechnology as a collective term refers to technological developments on the nanometer scale, usually 0. ...


Change of laws controlling societal norms

Associate Justice Martha Sosman's dissent [15] in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts that mandated legalization of same sex marriage, is an example of the precautionary principle as applied by analogy to changes in culturally significant social policy. She describes the myriad societal structures that rest on the institution of marriage, and points out the uncertainty of how they will be affected by this re-definition. The disagreement of the majority illustrates the difficulty of reaching agreement on the value of competing perspectives. Holding The denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated provisions of the state constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equality, and was not rationally related to a legitimate state interest. ...


Resource management

The Traffic Light colour convention, showing the concept of Harvest Control Rule (HCR), specifying when a rebuilding plan is mandatory in terms of precautionary and limit reference points for spawning biomass and fishing mortality rate.

Several natural resources like fish stocks are now managed by precautionary approach, through Harvest Control Rules (HCR) 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. Image File history File links Hcr. ... Image File history File links Hcr. ... Frog spawn Spawning is the production or depositing of eggs in large numbers by aquatic animals. ... See biomass (ecology) for the use of the term in ecology, where it refers to the cumulation of living matter Switchgrass, a tough plant used in the biofuel industry in the United States Rice chaff. ... the world is coming to the end!!!!! cod is going to eat up alive and do us hard up the emmm. ... The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) was established in 1902 by eight northern European nations. ...


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 realized 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.[citation needed] The Siberian Tiger is a subspecies of tiger that are critically endangered. ... Binomial name Columba argentina Bonaparte, 1855 The Silvery Pigeon (Columba argentina) is a pigeon which is principally confined to islands off Sumatra, Indonesia (e. ... Binomial name Coccycolius iris Oustalet, 1879 The Iris Glossy-starling, Coccycolius iris also known as Emerald Starling is a small starling with a metallic green crown, upper body, wings and tail. ...


Criticisms

Misapplication to a established hypothesis

PP only can apply only if there is an absence of a scientific standard. The demand for scientific proof of hypothesis means acceptance according to the rules of science. "Fully established scientifically" or "scientific consensus" implies direct measure of a causal hypothesis at the statistical level of a 95% confidence interval, 19 times out of 20. Not to be confused with mathematical proof (100%), correlation data, democratic measure (votes of scientists or conclusions of scientist), and a level of acceptance as determined by a non-scientific standard (a political standard or one set by an agency or group) or the measure of the acceptance of a theory. This denies use of PP for low threshold plausibility since PP only can apply in absence of scientific acceptance.[citation needed]


Logical self-contradiction

In absence of clear "scientific acceptance" (95% confidence interval supporting a hypothesis, 19 times out of 20), PP logically self-contradicts if both action and inaction potentially harms humans. An example is DDT use against problem of Malaria. Proposition A is "Use DDT to fight malaria mosquitoes." DDT might harm humans and/or environment. Burden of proof of safety of DDT falls on those who want to use it. Conclusion A is "Do not use DDT." Proposition B is "Do not use DDT to fight malaria mosquitoes." Not using DDT will harm humans and/or environment. Burden of proof of safety of NOT using DDT falls on those who want to ban it. Conclusion B is "You must use DDT." Conclusion A is in contradiction with conclusion B, the principle is a logical absurdity.[citation needed]


Risk assessment is smarter

In the absence of clear "scientific acceptance" (95% confidence interval supporting a hypothesis, 19 times out of 20) it makes sense that scientific study should be pursued. Risk assessment is a preferable decision making alternative to PP as it aims to compare consequences of the action against the consequences of no action, according to available evidence and the rules of science. Risk assessment is also more useful as it will help determine the threshold for either accepting or denying action.[citation needed].


Threshold of plausibility

The Wingspread Statement version of the PP takes the form "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". Does mankind need a minimal threshold of scientific certainty or plausibility before undertaking preventative action? Normally, no minimal threshold of plausibility is specified as a “triggering” condition, so that even the slightest indication that a particular product or activity might possibly produce some harm to human health or the environment will suffice to invoke the principle. And just as often no other preventative action is contemplated than an outright ban on the incriminated product or activity [2].


Impossible standard

The adherents of the Wingspread Statement declare that "the applicant or proponent of an activity or process or chemical needs to demonstrate that the environment and public health will be safe. The proof must shift to the party or entity that will benefit from the activity and that is most likely to have the information" [3][4]. In the name of absolute safety, the proponents of particular course of action are asked to demonstrate conclusively that the new technologies they advocate offer no possible harm. Since proving a negative is regarded as impossible in science, proponents of activities face a formidable task. [2]


Negative consequences?

In many applications, the Precautionary Principle may cause more harm than it alleviates. This is because people are more acutely aware of negative changes than they are positive changes. Because of this effect, a technology which brings great advantages may be ruled out by the Precationary Principle because of its minor negative impacts, leaving the overriding positive benefits unrealized.[5]


The Hazardous Air Pollutant provisions in the 1990 amendments to the US Clean Air Act are an example of the Precautionary Principle where the onus is now on showing a listed compound is harmless. Under this rule no distinction is made between those Hazardous Air Pollutants that provide a higher or lower risk and there is a perverse incentive to use less well studied agents that are not on the existing list.[6]


Perspective

  • Since imposition of the precautionary principle involves assuming things not yet proven, it need not weigh risk versus benefit. By definition, the principle focuses on size of the consequences, rather than the chance of it happening.
  • Critics of the principle argue that it is impractical, since every implementation of a technology carries some risk of negative consequences. [7]
    • Proponents counter that the principle is not an absolute rule, it is a conceptual tool to clarify arguments, and especially an issue of where the burden of proof lies. Someone in a debate regarding a proposal can say, I oppose this proposal on the grounds of the precautionary principle, without necessarily invoking the precautionary principle for other proposals.
      • However, such selectivity in its use is in itself criticised, because it leaves open the possibility that it will only be used in the context of technologies that advocates of the principle typically oppose - such as nuclear fission or genetically modified organisms. Indeed, selective application of principles in government are considered a fundamental form of injustice, which is why selective enforcement is considered an abuse of power.
      • Acting on a scientific conjecture can also be socially unfair, costly, and detrimental when applied to complex environmental choices[8]

For the generation of electrical power by fission, see Nuclear power plant An induced nuclear fission event. ... A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using the genetic engineering techniques generally known as recombinant DNA technology. ... Enforcement discretion is the ability that executors of the law (such as police officers or administrative agencies, in some cases) have to select who they want to enforce laws against. ...

References

  1. ^ Stewart, R.B., Environmental Regulatory Decision Making Under Uncertainty, Research in Law and Economics Vol. 20, pp.76 (2002)
  2. ^ a b Debating the Precautionary Principle: “Guilty until Proven Innocent” or “Innocent until Proven Guilty”? Henk van den Belt Plant Physiol. 2003 132: 1122–1126. [1]
  3. ^ Raffensberger C, Tickner J (eds.) (1999. ) Protecting Public Health and the Environment: Implementing the Precautionary Principle. Island Press, Washington, DC.
  4. ^ Safe trade in the 21 Century, Greenpeace comprehensive proposals and recommendations for the 4th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation [2]
  5. ^ The Paralyzing Principle: Does the Precautionary Principle Point us in any Helpful Direction? ; Cass R. Sunstein[3]
  6. ^ Implications of the Precautionary Principle: is it a threat to science? Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2004;17(1):153-61. Goldstein BD, Carruth RS. [4]
  7. ^ The Paralyzing Principle: Does the Precautionary Principle Point us in any Helpful Direction? ; Cass R. Sunstein[5]
  8. ^ Precaution, uncertainty and causation in environmental decisions. Environ Int. 2003 Apr;29(1):1-19. Ricci PF, Rice D, Ziagos J, Cox LA Jr.[6]
  • Arrow, K.J. and Fischer, A.C. (1974), "Environmental preservation, uncertainty and irreversibility", Quarterly Journal of Economics 88(2):312-319.
  • Arrow, K.J., et al. (1996), "Is There a Role for Cost-Benefit Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation?" Science, No. 272.
  • European Commission, Communication from the Commission on the Precautionary Principle, Brusells (2000).
  • European Union (2002), European Union consolidated versions of the treaty on European Union and of the treaty establishing the European community, Official Journal of the European Union, C325, 24 December 2002, Title XIX, article 174, paragraph 2 and 3.
  • Epstein, L.S. (1980), "Decision-making and the temporal resolution of uncertainty", International Economic Review 21(2):269-283.
  • Elizabeth Fisher, Judith Jones and Rene von Schomberg. (eds) (2006), Implementing the Precautionary Principle: Perspectives and Prospects, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, US: Edward Elgar
  • Christian Gollier, Bruno Jullien and Nicolas Treich (2000), "Scientific Progress and Irreversibility: An Economic Interpretation of the ‘Precautionary Principle’", Journal of Public Economics 75(2):229-253.
  • Harremoës, Poul, David Gee, Malcolm MacGarvin, Andy Stirling, Jane Keys, Brian Wynne, Sofia Guedes Vaz. The Precautionary Principle in the 20th Century: Late Lessons from Early Warnings, Earthscan, 2002. Review, Nature, 419, Oct 2002, 433
  • O’Riordan, T. and Cameron, J. (1995), Interpreting the Precautionary Principle, London: Earthscan Publications
  • Sandin, P. "Better Safe than Sorry: Applying Philosophical Methods to the Debate on Risk and the Precautionary Principle," (2004).
  • Stewart, R.B. "Environmental Regulatory Decision making under Uncertainty". In An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Environmental Policy: Issues in Institutional Design, Volume 20: 71-126 (2002).
  • Sunstein, Cass R. (2005), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle. New York: Cambridge University Press

is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also see: 2002 (number). ...

See also

Safe trade is a concept advocated by Greenpeace, some indigenous peoples (particularly those who feel threatened by the imposition of a monoculture) and by some elements of the anti-globalization movement. ... Biosafety: prevention of large-scale loss of biological integrity, focusing both on ecology and human health. ... A biosecurity guarantee attempts to ensure that ecologies sustaining either people or animals are maintained. ... The study of the diffusion of innovation is the study of how, why, and at what rate new ideas spread through cultures. ... Informed consent is a legal condition whereby a person can be said to have given consent based upon an appreciation and understanding of the facts and implications of an action. ... In economics, opportunity cost, or economic cost, is the cost of something in terms of an opportunity forgone (and the benefits which could be received from that opportunity), or the most valuable forgone alternative (or highest-valued option forgone), i. ... The proactionary principle, phrase coined in 2004 by cultural strategist Natasha Vita-More, who is known for her writings and multi-media transhumanist works, is an ethical principle intended as a pro-innovation counterbalance to the more famous precautionary principle. ... Best Available Technology, or BAT, is a spare no expense doctrine which prescribes the acquistion of the best technology available, without regard for traditional cost-benefit analyses. ... Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is defined as a combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, program or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population. ... Pascals Wager (or Pascals Gambit) is the application by the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, of decision theory to the belief in God. ... Risk aversion is a concept in economics and finance theory explaining the behaviour of consumers and investors under uncertainty. ... Grey goo refers to a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all living matter on Earth while building more of themselves (a scenario known as ecophagy). ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Precautionary principle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1996 words)
The precautionary principle, a phrase first used in English circa 1988, is the idea that if the consequences of an action are unknown, but are judged to have some potential for major or irreversible negative consequences, then it is better to avoid that action.
In practice the principle is most often applied in the context of the impact of human civilization or new technology on the environment, as the environment is a complex system where the consequences of some kinds of actions are often unpredictable.
The principle was implemented in an international treaty as early as the 1987 Montreal Protocol, and among other international treaties and declarations [6] is reflected in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development).
A/CONF.151/26 (Vol. I) REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT (1157 words)
Principle 5 All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.
Principle 17 Environmental impact assessment, as a national instrument, shall be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent national authority.
Principle 21 The creativity, ideals and courage of the youth of the world should be mobilized to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable development and ensure a better future for all.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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