Loss of species is a cost


Describe a policy that you think is of serious significance:

"The practice of focusing on the ecosystem for resource management was presaged by the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA), although not with the term ecosystem management."

"Provisions of the ESA did not call for 'saving or maintaining viable populations and individual species. Rather, it was centered on public and scientific concerns with the maintenance of ecosystem functions'. Since the ecosystem "concept signifies the study of living species and their physical environment as an integrated whole, the significance of ecosystem management therefore 'is understood to lie in a comprehensive, holistic, integrated approach that acknowledges 'that humans are part of, not separate from, the ecosystem'."

Bryner and Eflin, p. 304.

Two dimension of scientific problems:

    1. general • universal -- water, energy, air and land together sustain wildlife & fisheries.
    2. special • region-specific -- nesting, spawning and wintering grounds vary due to:
              1. solar irradiation
              2. climate and rainfall patterns
              3. terrain
              4. water sources
              5. vegetation
              6. competition for food and niches to exploit

If "All politics is local," then all wildlife and fishery propagation is local as well, even more local as is solid waste disposal.

"uncertain science."

The character of the evidence is not empirical (refutable) such as in epidemiological data; it may indicate, but not necessarily prove the point as is so in "double blind" studies.

Outcomes of experiments may:

  • refute hypotheses
  • sustain the hypothesis
  • neither sustain nor refute, but indeterminate

Reconciling the problem of uncertainty:

  • divide costs and benefits on some equitable basis.
  • The proponent of an activity with uncertain affects should bear the burden of proof and act on the assumption that they avoid harming others.
p. 292

Precautionary Principle

The key role of NGOs

Solid waste disposal as a problem

"United States generates approximately 230 million tons of 'trash'--about 4.6 pounds per person per day "every year, as part of our footprint.

Science & Politics, pp. 327-350.