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CRITIQUES OF THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AND THE RESPONSE OF SAN FRANCISCO. Mary O'Brien Annual Fall Conference Western Regional Pollution Prevention Network October 16, 2003 . Alternatives Assessment. Considering the pros and cons of a full range of alternatives to harm.

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critiques of the precautionary principle and the response of san francisco

CRITIQUES OF THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AND THE RESPONSE OF SAN FRANCISCO

Mary O'Brien

Annual Fall Conference

Western Regional Pollution Prevention Network

October 16, 2003

alternatives assessment
Alternatives Assessment

Considering the pros and cons of

a full range of alternatives to harm

precautionary principle
Precautionary Principle

A commitment to valuing health over harm amid uncertainty

slide4

For every NO to harm

there is a YES to health

five critiques of the precautionary principle are common
Five critiques of the Precautionary Principle are common:
  • The Precautionary Principle is vague
  • The PP is a value, not science
  • The PP stifles progress
  • The PP requires a risk-free world
  • The PP throws out risk assessment; alternatives might cause more harm
critique 1 the precautionary principle is vague
Critique #1: The Precautionary Principle is vague

Response : San Francisco clearly states regarding the Precautionary Principle:

Why How

Who Where

What When

slide7
WHY

General welfare

"...that individuals and communities can live healthy, fulfilling, and dignified lives"

slide8
Who
  • Government
  • Residents
  • Citizen Groups
  • Businesses
slide9
What

City ordinances and decisions

slide10
How
  • A public process
  • Make choices among available alternatives based on questions of:
    • necessity of hazardous activities options
    • least possible damage
where
Where

"...such areas as

transportation,

construction,

land use,

planning,

water,

energy,

health care,

recreation,

purchasing, and

public expenditure."

slide12
When
  • Historically
  • Now
  • With a three year review
critique 2 the precautionary principle is a value not science
Critique #2:   The Precautionary Principle is a value, not science

Response: The San Francisco Precautionary Principle is value and science

● Value

"Individuals and communities living healthy, fulfilling, and dignified lives"

● Science

"Careful assessment of available alternatives using the best available science"

critique 3 the precautionary principle stifles progress
Critique #3:   The Precautionary Principle stifles progress

Response: The San Francisco Precautionary Principle encourages:

● Technological progress

● Behavioral progress

technological progress
TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS

"Science and technology are creating new solutions to prevent or mitigate environmental problems"

behavioral progress
BEHAVIORAL PROGRESS

"Achieving a society living respectfully within the bounds of nature will take a behavioral...revolution"

critique 4 the precautionary principle requires a risk free world
Critique #4:The Precautionary Principle requires a risk-free world

Response: The San Francisco Precautionary Principle requires less harm:

● "Select the alternative with the least potential impact on human health and the environment“

● "A duty to consider all the reasonablyforeseeable costs [of alternatives]"

slide18
Critique #5:The Precautionary Principle throws out risk assessment; alternatives might cause more harm

Response: The San Francisco Precautionary Principle assesses risks and benefits of alternatives:

● "The Precautionary Principle requires a thorough exploration and a careful analysis of a wide range of alternatives"

● "Short and long-term benefits and time thresholds should be considered"

essential elements of precautionary policy regardless of what it is called
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTSOF PRECAUTIONARY POLICY[regardless of what it is called]
  • Giving health the benefit of doubt
  • Public participation
  • Alternatives assessment
  • Scientific and technological information