UCSB ENVS 106 - Lecture 07 Merchants of Doubt Ch 7 end and Pacala_POST (17 pages)

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Lecture 07 Merchants of Doubt Ch 7 end and Pacala_POST



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Merchants of Doubt Chapter 7 Denial Rides Again The Revisionist Attack on Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962 Warned of the dangers of pesticides to natural ecosystems especially DDT Dangers of bioaccumulation Slow to break down so can persist throughout the food web and build up in animals Potential cancer risk to humans Unintended Consequences Kills far and wide and sometimes kills the predators that help to balance out the problem Indiscriminate use can lead to resistance and ineffectiveness No responsible person contends that insect borne disease should be ignored The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection but it has heard little of the other side of the story the defeats the short lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts Resistanc Even worse we may have destroyed Reactions Industry Carson was hysterical and emotional President s Science Advisory Committee PSAC Found a number of uncertainties in clearly documenting a case against DDT Faced challenges with studying acute vs chronic effects Still recommended restrictions on pesticide use The hazards resulting from their use dictate rapid strengthening of interim measures until such time as we have realized a comprehensive program for controlling environmental pollution Did not claim clear evidence of harm but put the burden of proof of safety on the chemical manufacturers 1972 10 years after Silent Spring US Federal Government bans DDT http www forbes com sites henrymiller 2012 09 05 rachel carsons deadly fantasies 3e4e1a4a15d1 New Attacks on Carson Rachel Carson s work is responsible for 50 million deaths Banning DDT was the worst crime of the century Dixy Lee Ray In 1948 before the use of DDT there were 2 8 million cases of malaria in Sri Lanka By 1963 there were only 17 Low levels of infection continued until the late 1960s when the attacks on DDT in the U S convinced officials to suspend spraying In 1968 there were one million cases of malaria In 1969 the number reached 2 5 million back to pre DDT levels Moreover by 1972 the largely unsubstantiated charges against DDT in the United States had a worldwide effect In 1968 malaria flared up but DDT was still being used in Sri Lanka and the government used even more DDT Resistance was the problem Managing mosquitos requires multiple approaches beyond pesticides Network of Right Wing Foundations Broader Critique of Environmental Policies Academic Study 56 environmentally skeptical books published in the 1990s 92 were linked to right wing foundations Echoes outward into the media sphere as well Other connections Merchants of Doubt Conclusion Of Free Speech and Free Markets It s important to note that Oreskes and Conway are trying to develop what they think is a delicate balance between free speech freedom of the press and the responsibility of accurately conveying information This is primarily the goal of journalism as we know it but it looks as if PR firms and other merchants of doubt were able to utilized this in a way that distorts the information See the text for more info Tension between Free Speech and Free Markets Freedom of the Press Fairness Doctrine Science Non Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Oregon Petition Journalistic Self Delusion Balance as a form of Bias Free Market Fundamentalism Market Failure The greatest and widest ranging market failure ever seen Perfect Information vs misinformation Regulation as clear fair and stable playing field Has and will the free market provide the vast array of benefits to society Be up to speed on Oreskes and Conway s concerns with free Machine Tools market fundamentalism from both directions Digital Computers 1 Free market fundamentalism has a number of flaws market failures and information problems Transistors 2 Government intervention and regulation has been and The Internet can often be good and beneficial to society they don t think it is without problems though Electricity Superhighway System False Alarm Over Environmental False Alarms There is uncertainty and risk in the world When should we sound the alarm and put a policy in place to reduce or mitigate the harms from various activities Author of The Skeptical Environmentalist Bj rn Lomborg often argues that many environmental challenges are not worth the cost Pacala and colleagues argue that benefits of environmental regulation should be taken more seriously e g EPA estimates that from 1970 1990 Clean Air Act regulation had health benefits of 22 2 TRILLION while only about 523 billion in costs Pacala et al 2003 Bj rn Lomborg Benefts and Costs When the alarm sensitivity is zero then there is no cost but also no benefit since the alarm is never sounded and no policies are ever in place Total Costs At the financial optimum the difference between benefits and costs is greatest Total Benefits larm this A y r in Eve vity t t i s Sen is a ne e l rang t as wel f be ne 0 0 A1 When the alarm sensitivity is extremely high the costs of too many policies are greater than the benefits of the policies Pacala s point in the paper is that too often policy makers err on the side of caution veering toward A1 rather than A A A2 Sensitivity of the Alarm Some considerations This graph represents the sensitivity of the alarm not the actual strength of the policy response You might lump the two issues together but this is somewhat simplified I discuss policy strength in the next slide From an anthropocentric human focused point of view A looks to be the best option But one can imagine thinking that the intercept point turquoise circle is fine as well since we could get maximal environmental harm reduction without a net cost to Single Policy Alarm has Been Sounded How strong should the policy be There are uncertainties associated with this conceptual model as it would apply in Benefts and Costs the real world For starters we don t always know if breakthrough technologies are possible or likely for a given policy trajectory We also don t know how strong a policy needs to be to approach breakthrough technologies or practices Regardless this serves as an important lesson in thinking about environmental problems and solutions That is managing environmental problems with strong


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