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Unformatted text preview: Emma Helverson Section: ES 110-02 Using stratospheric ozone depletion as a case study, explore why requiring scientific proof before taking action can be problematic. How should we approach environmental policy in the face of scientific uncertainty? Environmental issues pressing the minds of scientists today, differ from all other scientific problems in that their threats are not absolutely definite. It is human nature to question the world we live in and require solid evidence before accepting an idea or argument as fact (Costanza). However, in certain situations such as ozone depletion, preventing or attempting to fix the problem before it exists is a much smarter solution. Scientists had information that suggested certain chemicals were affecting the ozone in negative ways, as well as data that showed weakening stratospheric ozone that may or may not lead to holes. If these scientists had chosen to wait around to act until a hole actually existed or solid proof could be found that chemicals found in every day products, humans would be facing a severe problem. The stratospheric ozone surrounding our planet cannot be replaced once gone, and is essentially to the survival of human beings. Environmental issues that concern limited resources cannot be postponed until they are gone because they cannot be brought back once they are gone. In these cases some scientific uncertainty must be allowed and educated guesses must be made. How do we know when the evidence for an environmental problem is strong enough to take action to solve it? Will that point be the same for all types of environmental problems (e.g. for large-scale and small-scale problems, reversible and ir reversible problems, etc)?...
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course ENIVRON SC ES 110 taught by Professor Pallant during the Spring '08 term at Allegheny.
- Spring '08