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Chapter 6

ENV250Y5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Critical Role

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Andrea Olive

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Ch 6
Pollution in the twenty first century is a more challenging problem than it has ever
been in human history. Our water, air, and chemical pollutants are largely products
of our own making, but, in so many ways, managing pollution eludes us. Are things
getting better or worse? We hardly know. As a country, Canada has made significant
strides in cleaning up the air and water and in reducing exposure to chemical risk.
However, ensuring ongoing water quality requires further action especially as new
chemicals seep into our water supply. An uphill battle is also being fought against
the release of GHG emissions in cities and from oil sands mining. And keeping
control of industry’s chemical pollution is difficult because companies produce new
chemicals for environmental safety. Thus, framing pollution policy so as to protect
the environment will likely be as challenging in the suture as it is today.
Pollution management is largely a government-led effort. We have national
standards, Canada-wide agreements, provincial legislation, and municipal
participation. But gaps in the intersecting mishmash of policies allow for pollution
to seep into our everyday lives and our environment. Shared governance should be
the model Canada strives toward in pollution management. The critical role played
by non-state actors, such as NGOs and citizens, cannot be overlooked, nor can the
potential role played by other non-state actors, such as the private sector. Some of
the most important non-state actors in pollution policy are scientists. As discussed
in chapter 3, scientific information has undergone a democratic revolution since the
1960s. so one of the biggest challenges facing pollution management is finding
credible peer reviewed science and not relying on industry or NGO science, or
expecting industry to keep citizens safe.
It is absolutely necessary for Canadians to fund peer reviewed, expert, and unbiased
science conducted in university and government research facilities. To be able to
manage the risks posed by pollution to human health and the environment, we must
accurately measure those risks.
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