Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Precautionary Principle

Precautionary Principle
About 3 hours ago I had no clue what the Precautionary Principle was, so I am not claiming to know everything about the topic, not even slightly. For class we were asked to read the three links at the bottom of this page, and they were listed in the reverse order from how I have them listed. I listed them this way on purpose, because if you actually want to be able to stomach it all this is how I would have read them. You don't have to read them, but I think a lot of people will find them interesting, I did. (Keep in mind the third article on this list is thick with information. If you can make it down to the section on asthma and highway exposure that is where I think it gets most interesting.)

What is the Precautionary Principle?
"The 1998 Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle summarizes the principle this way:
When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
All statements of the Precautionary Principle contain a version of this formula: When the Health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to with for scientific certainty to take protective action."

The Precautionary Principle
They put it a lot better than I could. If you want to learn more about the principle you will want to start here the Precautionary Principle FAQs, then read the Precautionary Principle background and explanation.

If you are anything like me clicking that link and reading the articles might be too much to ask of you, so here is a synopsis of what is there:

Q: Why should we take action before science tells us what is harmful or what is causing harm?
A: Just because we don't have loads of proof doesn't mean we should wait until we do. An example of this is smoking. They couldn't show case studies that smoking caused cancer until a lot later, but that didn't mean they couldn't tell people to stop because they believe it leads to cancer.

Q: How do we implement the precautionary principle?
A: "Any action that contributes to preventing harm to humans and the environment, learning more about the consequences of actions, and acting appropriately is precautionary." Meaning take measures to stop current harmful actions, and prevent future ones.

Q: Why do we need the precautionary principle now?
A: Why is this even a question? We have so many harmful activities, chemically or otherwise, happening around us right now, and we have the left over toxins from years of harmful activities floating all around us. We need this now more than ever.

Background and Explanation:
"The release and use of toxic substances, the exploitation of resources, and physical alterations of the environment have had substantial unintended consequences affecting human health and the environment. Some of these concerns are high rates of learning deficiencies, asthma, cancer, birth defects, and species extinctions; along with global climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and worldwide contamination with toxic substances and nuclear materials...We believe there is compelling evidence that damage to humans and the worldwide environment is of such magnitude and seriousness that new principles for conducting human activities are necessary...Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."

After reading all this including this last article on "Near highway pollutants in motor vehicle exhaust" I was surprised we haven't already put an end to our current gas guzzling cars.

This is where the precautionary principle should have kicked in a long time ago. If you don't think cars are a harm to humans and the environment, look up what the top five killers of people in the US are. You can also look up the amount of injuries that occur even on a monthly basis from motor vehicle accidents. This isn't even mentioning the "high rates of learning deficiencies, asthma, cancer, birth defects" that are caused, at least in part, by motor vehicles. If you want to argue any of them go outside any high traffic, or even low traffic road, on a day where inversion is visible and tell me how you feel.

No Cars Beyond This Point
We know that smoking kills, and have made massive strides in eradicating it. We know that cars are the number one killer in the nation, but have done little to nothing to eradicate it. I have a car and drive also, so I am inditing me just as much as anyone else in this. If cars lead to this so often why do we still drive? Add the pollution from cars and highways, lack of exercise, and disconnection from society that leads to suicide and other things and cars just might be the most lethal killer in all of history!

Now what do we do with this information? Public transport is hard to use and can't get you everywhere you want to go. Use it as much as you can. Write to the city and state and ask for lines to be expanded, seek to supplement driving with walking or biking where possible. Do what you can to make our environment, and families safer.


Sustainability News

Check back for more news later


I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.