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Risk Assessment

Slow Threats and Environmental Policy

Some threats to the environment, like acid rain and stratospheric ozone depletion, emerged fairly rapidly, and abrupt threats like an oil or toxic chemical spill demand an immediate response. But most environmental problems have the...

Uncertainty

Our society has sophisticated techniques for analyzing risks that can be modeled and quantified. But other threats—often the most serious ones—do not fit the paradigm. These threats involve what the economist Frank Knight classified as...

Climate Policy and Uncertainty: α–Precautionary Principle Versus Real Options Analysis

Significant uncertainties exist on the climate side of the analysis. The key issue is how quantitative methods of economic analysis and risk management can help to make the best
possible decision given incomplete information. In...

Comment on "Uncertainty"

The precautionary principle is often cited to assure the public, in situations where decisions have to be made under great uncertainty, that safety is paramount. However, this blanket assurance comes at the cost of foregoing a potential...

A Troubling Precedent: Implementing the Precautionary Principle to Limit the Role of Science in European Decisionmaking

Proponents of the precautionary principle argue that it should be rigorously applied to ensure the safety of human activities that potentially impact public health or welfare before those activities...

The Temporal Dimension in Environmental Law

Pollution of the air, water, and land increases the risk that human beings will fall ill and prematurely die. Laws restricting this pollution begin to reduce the risk of illness and death as soon as they are implemented. Often, however...

The Time Has Come for Reconsidering the Role of Generic Default Assumptions Based on "Conservative Policy Choice" in Scientific Risk Assessments

The use of default assumptions in risk assessment originated in unusual conditions. In the early 1970s, President Richard M. Nixon had declared a war on cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was a new agency created to...

Getting Our Priorities Straight: One Strand of the Regulatory Reform Debate

Several prominent academic critics of regulation, most notably Cass Sunstein and Justice Stephen Breyer, claim that our regulatory system does not establish sensible priorities.2 Their reform recommendations...

Incorporating Hormesis in Risk Regulation

I suspect that many readers are unfamiliar with the concept of, evidence for, or implications of, the biological principle of hormesis.1 This is a shame, insofar as environmental policy purports to be based on...

Genetic Susceptibility and Environmental Risk Assessment: An Emerging Link

Since the 1970s, the federal government has imposed progressively stringent regulations on the discharge of hazardous and toxic substances into the air, water, and soil in order to protect the public from the presumed health risks of...