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Environmental (Partial) Success Story: The Montreal Protocol (1987)



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Environmental (Partial) Success Story: The Montreal Protocol (1987)

  • Current substitute, HCFCs, much less damaging to ozone layer, also to be phased out in developed world through Kigali Agreement (signed 2016)
    • Produced in large quantities in China
    • Large black market with international smuggling
    • Methyl Bromide (ozone-damaging gaseous pesticide) banned, but still being used (particularly by CA strawberry growers - causes SGA babies, birth defects)

REACH

  • Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals
  • European Treaty requiring companies to test chemicals already on the market by a set timetable and test new products before putting them on the market

REACH

  • Cost of evaluations < 1% of chemical industry’s total sales
  • Economic analyses show REACH could bring environmental benefits worth €95 billion over the next 25 years and result in health cost savings of €50 billion over the next 30 years
  • Upgrades to treaty to address mixtures of chemicals

Convention on Biological Diversity

  • Calls for:
    • conservation of biological diversity
    • sustainable use
  • Includes Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization - aimed at stopping biopiracy and ensuring that developing countries get their fair and equitable benefits from biodiversity and indigenous knowledge

Solutions Based on the Precautionary Principle

  • “When evidence points toward the potential of an activity to cause significant, widespread or irreparable harm to public health or the environment, options for avoiding that harm should be examined and pursued, even though the harm is not yet fully understood or proven”

The Precautionary Principle: Practical Essentials

  • Give human and environmental health the benefit of doubt
  • Include appropriate public participation in the discussion
  • Gather unbiased, scientific, technological and socioeconomic information
  • Consider less risky alternatives

The Precautionary Principle

  • Endorsed by APHA, ANA, CMA, others
    • Institute of Medicine/National Research Council have endorsed for FDA policies
  • Puerto Rico, San Francisco have adopted, among others
  • Big business, US Chamber of Commerce oppose

The Four Laws of Ecology Barry Commoner

  • 1. Everything is Connected to Everything Else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.
  • 2. Everything Must Go Somewhere. There is no "waste" in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.

The Four Laws of Ecology Barry Commoner

  • 3. Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is likely to be detrimental to that system.
  • 4. There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Everything comes from something. There's no such thing as spontaneous existence.

Connectedness

  • Globalization – benefits and drawback
  • Homogenization:
    • 7,000 extant languages
    • 78% speak the 85 largest languages
    • Within one century, nearly ½ expected to disappear
  • Technology/Social Media: dual capacities for good and evil

Solutions

  • Shift from a throw-away economy to a reduce/reuse/recycle economy
  • Support local economies
  • Enhance fair trade policies

Solutions

  • Rebuild decaying infrastructure:
    • Federal outlays for basic infrastructure:
      • 1968 = 3.3% of GDP
      • 2011 = 1.3% of GDP
    • Am Soc Civil Engs estimates $2.2 trillion needed, over 5 years, to adequately maintain and upgrade the nation’s roads, dams, drinking water, school buildings, etc.

Solutions

  • Recognize nature’s net worth (Natural Capitalism)
    • Annual value of ecosystem services worldwide = $33 trillion (1997 estimate)
      • $44 trillion (2012); nearly 2X global GNP of $24 trillion
  • Calculate economic prosperity based on Genuine Progress Index or Global Happiness Index, rather than Gross Domestic Product

Solutions

  • Consider democratic alternatives to capitalism
  • Participatory economics (with component of natural economics) – aka Parecon
    • Ground-up system
  • Net neutrality

Solutions

  • Decrease energy consumption
  • Zero waste production systems
  • Extended producer responsibility / Extended product liability
    • 70+ laws in US
    • Cover electronic devices, mercury-containing thermometers, fluorescent lamps, paint, batteries, pharmaceuticals

Solutions

  • Production-side environmentalism (reducing “planned obsolescence”)
  • Recycling laws
    • Only 11 states have bottle deposit laws (recycling rates 63% vs. 12% in those without)

Solutions

  • Eliminate patenting of genes, revamp drug pricing to reflect true costs and funders of drug development
  • Pharmaceutical Take-Back Laws
    • Drug companies fighting

Solutions

Solutions

  • Restructure tax system
    • Decrease taxes on work and savings
    • Increase taxes on wealthy
      • Lower taxes on wealthy are not associated with economic growth, are associated with more inequality
    • Maximum income (France, England considering)


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