American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities

By Joseph M. Petulla | Go to book overview

8
Risk and Conservation

A COMMON characteristic can be uncovered among many of the environmentalist precepts--a hesitancy to take undue risks. This hesitancy can be found in both conservatives and conservationists. It attracts like-minded groups who are otherwise quite unwilling to support environmentalist causes. Thus when environmentalists are successful in showing serious risks or dangers of ecosystem disruption, drastic changes in natural environments, or potential danger to human health or the nation's future, many persons from other movements support the environmental effort. The solidarity stems from unwillingness to accept personal, physical, or collective risks for the potential economic advantage of someone else or another social group.


Risk Taking

In studies of risk taking in recent years,1 an individual's willingness to take risks is seen as linked either to measurable benefits ("voluntary" risk taking) or to a perceived ability to handle the risk involved. Such is the case when people do not believe they are in

____________________
1
C. Starr, "Social Benefit versus Technological Risk," Science 165 ( 1969): 232; C. R. Rudman Starr, and C. Whipple, "Philosophical Basis for Risk Analysis," in Annual Review of Energy 1976, ed. J. M. Hollander and M. K. Simmons ( Palo Alto, Calif.: Annual Reviews, 1976). See also H. J. P. D. Palmer Otway , and F. Niehaus, "Risk Assessment," in Second Status Report of the llASA Project on Energy Systems 1975 ( Luxembourg: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 1975), pp. 149-171; and W. W. Lowrance, Of Acceptable Risk ( Los Altos, Calif.: William Kaufman, 1976), pp. 13-70.

-141-

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American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • PART I - PROBLEM AND BACKGROUND 1
  • 1 - Environmental Values 3
  • 2 - Traditions of Conservation 24
  • PART II 41
  • 3 43
  • 4 - Enemies of Disruption 60
  • 5 - Environmental Economists 75
  • PART III - CRITICAL ISSUES 95
  • 6 - Varieties of Environmental Argument 97
  • 7 - Growth and Decay 119
  • 8 - Risk and Conservation 141
  • PART IV - EMERGING PRIORITIES 175
  • 9 - The Public Good 177
  • 10 - Environmental Ethics 204
  • Epilogue Sincerity and Authenticity 232
  • Index 235
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