of environmental hazards
Vicki Norberg-Bohm, William C. Clark,
Bhavik Bakshi, Jo Anne Berkenkamp,
Sherry A. Bishko, Mark D. Koehler,
Jennifer A. Marrs, Chris P. Nielsen, and
The last decades of the twentieth century have witnessed a growing awareness of not only the severity but also the diversity of environmental problems. Global environmental concerns such as ozone depletion, climate change, and biodiversity loss have stimulated international environmental actions. Regional and local problems – such as acid rain, depletion of renewable resources, and drought – have also been the subject of public debate and governmental action. An increasing number of environmental problems compete for places on political agendas, for the attention of regulatory agencies and international governmental bodies, and for the limited resources available for environmental management.
This rapid proliferation of environmental concerns, as noted in the Introduction to this volume, poses a number of challenges for the strategic design of good public policy. Most obviously, to quote a former administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), “In a world of limited resources, it may be wise to give priority attention to those pollutants and problems that pose the greatest risk to our society” (USEPA 1987: ii). More broadly, as senior officials of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have long argued, we need a systematic understanding of how the severity and nature of environmental problems vary from place to place around the world. This need can only become more pressing as bilateral and international negotiations increasingly take on environmental dimensions.
By and large, today's world is poorly equipped to meet these strategic