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Precautionary Principle in Environmental Situations Report (Assessment)

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Updated: May 6th, 2022

Everyday life is always full of various risks, and some of them might even threaten the existence of human beings. However, most problems can be prevented by different measures. All these methods are based on the precautionary principle. The principle allows people to be prepared for potential obstacles. The main goals of this paper are to discuss the precautionary principle and describe the types of environmental situations to which the principle might be applied.

This concept is used when some activity poses any kind of threat to people’s health or the environment. The precautionary principle is made up of several components. First, it is necessary to act to prevent unfavorable outcomes in the face of uncertainty (Guo, 2017). Second, people who advocate the activity should produce all required evidence. Third, all alternatives to potentially dangerous actions should be prudently analyzed. Fourth, the general public has to participate in decision-making processes.

Therefore, the precautionary principle mostly promotes anticipatory actions. Most international environmental decisions were based on this principle, for example, treaties that address pollution in the North Sea, ozone-depleting substances, global warming, and some others. Also, precaution is one of the major concepts that guide environmental laws in the European Union.

The principle is an integral part of strategies that protect people’s health and the environment. However, it is not an original idea as there are many similar concepts in different areas. For instance, medical specialists throughout the world apply the principle of primary prevention, which has the same meaning. Also, some governments promote regulations regarding electromagnetic fields, applying prudent avoidance principle.

New problems occur every day, and in order to deal with them, it is necessary to develop a universal concept that offers methods and strategies that might be applied in the fast-changing world. The precautionary principle serves as such a concept. That is why it is widely used when addressing problems of global warming or resource depletion (Steel, 2014). Issues related to the environment and public health arise and become worse very fast.

Societies often cannot even detect them, and those which are identified are hard to control or improve. In addition, there are some problems with regulatory processes. For example, laws that regulate toxic chemical release are not effective enough as freshwater fish is not recommended to the pregnant due to a high level of mercury. The precautionary principle is also an important measure to address ineffective policies concerning toxic substances. Such policies usually aim at resolving existing problems, but they offer only a few preventive strategies.

There are some other examples of the application of the principle. Pesticides in schools are a serious issue, and policies that regulate their use are very strict. Due to high risk that pesticides pose to health and the environment, such policies ban these substances if there are other options available. Another example is polyvinyl chloride toys. Polyvinyl chloride is a very popular material that is used in various products. However, some of its components are toxic to animals and humans. Since this information was revealed, manufacturers refused to use these substances for toy production.

In conclusion, the precautionary principle is a basic concept on which the safety of society depends. Environmental and health problems are difficult to address at the moment when they take place. That is why the principle motivates to design various preventive measures. Therefore, this concept might be applied in diverse contexts and under different circumstances.

References

Guo, Y. (2017). . Web.

Steel, D. (2014). Philosophy and the precautionary principle. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Precautionary Principle in Environmental Situations." May 6, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-precautionary-principle/.

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