From stratospheric ozone to climate change: Historical perspective on precaution and scientific responsibility
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Science and Engineering Ethics 12 (4):596-606 (2006)
The issue of the impact of human activities on the stratospheric ozone layer emerged in the early 1970s. But international regulations to mitigate the most serious effects were not adopted until the mid-1980s. This case holds lessons for addressing more complex environmental problems. Concepts that should inform discussion include “latency,’ ‘counter-factual scenario based on the Precautionary Principle,’ ‘inter-generational burden sharing,’ and ‘estimating global costs under factual and counter-factual regulatory scenarios.’ Stringent regulations were adopted when large scientific uncertainty existed, and the environmental problem would have been prevented or more rapidly mitigated, at relatively modest incremental price, but for a time delay before more rigorous Precautionary measures were implemented. Will history repeat itself in the case of climate change?
|Keywords||stratospheric ozone impact of human activities CFCs Montreal Protocol historical case study scientific uncertainties Precautionary Principle Precautionary scenario cost-benefit analysis regulation|
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