March 8 12 ENV222 lecture format.doc.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
School of Environment
Kenneth Mac Donald

March 8 ENV222 State-domestic: risk management and sustainable development Lecture format Complete March 1 lecture: Civil Society individual Risk management (Note: Stahl et al (2001) p. 328 distinguish between ecological risk management and human- health risk management. Environmental policy addresses both, but the emphasis is upon risk to humans.) Ecological risk assessment (ERA): not explicitly defined by reading Stahl et al (2001), refers to identification of degree of potential harm (risk) to humans or other species by a given threat (eg, a given concentration level of nitrogen oxides in local air; construction of a highway, etc); see p. 330 top left for products of ERA; "severity of the ecological risk" etc For toxic substances, basically consists of these steps: . identify nature of the threat (eg toxicity of the pollutant) . identify likelihood of exposure (breathing urban air, in drinking water, etc) . identify effect on organism for a given degree of exposure NB: this assessment can be done by science alone Ecological risk management (ERM): decisions respecting the environmental threat these decisions cannot rest on science alone (reader p. 327 "rely not only on the ERA, but also..."; p. 329 "not wholly driven by scientific concerns") See reader p. 328 Fig. 1-1 for the different inputs to ERM other than science: public values and politics; economics; law; technology; social factors. Thus environmental policy always must include both science and other elements, most notably values and political power. Risk management is done by setting the allowable standard, which is done by the risk assessment science but also, in large part, by availability of technology to reduce the threat (March 6 lecture); referred to as a standard based on Best Available Technology (BAT) or Best Available Technology Economically Achievable (BATEA) – “technological feasibility” in p. 328 Fig. 1-1. Thus, cost to the industry employing the technology is a major factor; as is political power of that industry as it negotiates with government regulators. Access to the risk management process is another factor: do citizens bearing risk have a voice in the decision-making process? Risk assessment and management are done by governments: eg, in setting regulatory standards for allowable emission of toxic substances to air or water; in environmental assessment of proposed projects (eg Northern Gateway Pipeline); in giving regulatory approval to a new 1 pesticide. Reader p. 331 points out also done by private firms, eg chemical industry Responsible Care program. Basic elements of risk: 1) cost-benefit analysis: a basic took of risk management; eg, calculation done by US EPA that a proposed new regulatory will impose a cost of x million dollars per year on industry and give a benefit of y reduction in annual death rate 2) risk perception: different groups are willing to accept different degrees of risk (eg, young willing to accept greater risk than old; different groups may perceive very different degrees of risk from the same threat (eg, risk may be magnified in public opinion, compared to science view of the risk) 3) risk communication: the challenge of experts explaining risk to citizens (who may be asked to bear the risk and, understandably, desire zero risk); see reader p. 332 “public … overlook the ecological significance of a given species” 4) risk vulnerability some groups are more vulnerable to the same risk than others (eg, children more vulnerable to toxic exposure than adults, due to differences in body size; developing countries more vuln
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