Action Research Books

Social Justice, Environment and Livability books from MIT Press

Precautionary Tools for Reshaping Environmental Policy

Precautionary Tools for Reshaping Environmental Policy

Edited by Nancy J. Myers and Carolyn Raffensperger

November 2005, MIT Press

The precautionary principle calls for taking action against threatened harm to people and ecosystems even in the absence of full scientific certainty. The rationale is that modern technologies and human activities can inflict long-term, global-scale environmental damage and that conclusive scientific evidence of such damage may be available too late to avert it. The precautionary principle asks whether harm can be prevented instead of assessing degrees of “acceptable” risk. This book provides a toolkit for applying precautionary concepts to reshape environmental policies at all levels. Its compendium of regulatory options, detailed examples, wide-ranging case studies, and theoretical background provides both citizens and policymakers with the basis for acting on any issue in any situation — whether it’s pesticide use at local schools or a new international regulatory system for chemicals.

Precautionary Tools for Reshaping Environmental Policy describes the analytical and ethical bases of the precautionary principle as well as practical options for implementing it. It provides a “precautionary checklist” that can serve as a springboard for discussion and decisions. And it offers a variety of case studies that show the precautionary principle in action — from elk and cattle farming to marine fisheries, from the protection of indigenous cultures against bioprospecting to the restoration of the federal court system as a safety net for people harmed by products and chemicals. A hands-on interdisciplinary guide, the book demonstrates the advantages of a precautionary approach and addresses criticisms that have been leveled against it.

For updates and more information on the precautionary principle at work, visit http://www.sehn.org/precaution.html by clicking on the link to the left.

About the Editors

Nancy J. Myers is Communications Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network.

Carolyn Raffensperger is an environmental lawyer and the founding director of the Science and Environmental Health Network.

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