The best we can do is specify some rough interval of possibility about the probability a tack will land point-up. The community must also encourage the participation of all those affected. On the other hand, high-stakes risks are characterized by their rarity, and, above all, their potentially disastrous impacts. If so, we must refrain from the activity, or seek safer alternatives. There seems to be no easy way to curtail greenhouse gases. Science must also be applied to the implementation of precaution: How do we effectively implement precautionary measures? The smaller the sample, the less representative it is of the wider population.
To the extent that an exposure is avoided, or its risky components neutralized via precaution-based loss prevention activities, the possibility of strict liability is itself eliminated. The scientists themselves gain more accolades and funding. A constant struggle between the cost effectiveness of such regulations and the need to protect the environment results in these essentially reactionary treatment policies being seen as an ineffective solution to the problem. Contrasting approaches to uncertainty include some variant of the fatalistic approach, and the conservatism of minimax is reviewed. There is a lot to be learned from it.
In any case, when expected value is used to manage serious risk it is not used based on its merits. There the exposure is part of the natural environment. What we try to do is anticipate the path of risk between point A, point B and beyond. Uncertainty about catastrophic loss potentials must be considered in the precautionary decision process. Do credible catastrophic risk potentials exist? We eventually face the same data limitations with these approaches as we do with sampling, suggesting that while we can extend credibility, we cannot extend it very far. It seems that our challenge in practical life is not so much avoiding risk, as avoiding the dilemmas that such avoidance entails.
The lack of certainty, uncertainty, can arise from a variety of factors. Financial hardships can have serious impacts, some of them manifested physically. In the long-run, there may be no long-run. We have shown in Section 2. When the costs of both prevention and cure approach enormous proportions, we face the dilemma of precaution. The answer is clearly not to relax restrictions on how much pollution eventually enters the environment. Where these rewards exist, they might not be so easy to give up, especially when faced with the mere prospect for negativities.
Nothing implies that there is an antithesis. The goal of science is more knowledge, so that both types of errors may be reduced. Last but not least, the successes we achieve through alternatives assessment in achieving precautionary goals should serve as an impetus to further alternative assessments. Jablonowski is founder and principal of Intuitive Risk, a centre for the study of high-stakes risk. At community hearings, experts in aquatic environments and the methods of aquatic weed control completely enumerated the pros and cons of various alternatives. This book explores risk dilemmas and how to avoid them.
As we will see, the approach to high-stakes decisions, those involving catastrophic events, is much different from that we apply to the more mundane aspects of life. Assume for example, that drawing a black ball represents the occurrence of some event, while a white ball represents non-occurrence. Decisions on how we behave as an individual, business entity or society toward natural perils is a crucial part of the risk management process. Clearly we must view the effects of precaution globally, not locally. Imagine all the possible things that can be used to intentionally affect the outcome of the urn drawing experiment.
We understand what we can experience. Precaution does not entail avoidance for avoidance sake, nor should it serve as a vehicle for those that are opposed to an activity for their own interests, risk potential aside. Otherwise, everything is risky, and the precautionary approach implies everything should be avoided. Natural risk is equitable — fair. At any given knowledge level, i. Perhaps our judgments of possibility of risk are not based on probability at all.
Is the business near a river? Costs represent the commitment of scarce resources. Getting killed by lightning is not an impossible occurrence however, and in any given year some small number of people in the United States die from direct strikes by lightning. Because the assessment of probability of an exposure, as being either possible or impossible, is imprecise, we have to modify the strict application of the precautionary rule. Just when and how these techniques are used and their implications is given little or no treatment, with the emphasis instead on statistical loss prevention, and insurance. The cheapest alternative was the application of chemical herbicides.
Both catastrophic potentials and their possible mitigation can be treated in this fashion. In our case, activity x would be accepted, even though it in fact has catastrophic loss potential. This might indicate a span of 100,000 years, more reasonably maybe 1,000,000 years, perhaps even more. Like when we draw from a well-mixed bowl of colored balls, blind-folded. We recognize something as dangerous, and take precautionary action.
The size of these intervals is a measure of the uncertainty involved, and this uncertainty in turn depends on our degree of knowledge. Stability is far from guaranteed in the real-world of application. On the face of it, it would seem that some sort of fatalism with respect to risk might be inevitable. Though becoming increasingly common in the actual regulatory structure of some countries, especially in Europe, most articulations of precaution appear in the context of international treaties, accords and agreements. The results of the exercise are then periodically monitored for effectiveness. But how do we reconcile inter-subject differences in utility? As a qualitative tool for assessing the structure of risky events consequences only, ignoring probabilities , event and fault trees can still be an extremely valuable risk management tool, even when probability data is very uncertain. Underlying decision methodologies aside, costs can be one of the greatest differentiators between decisions.