No, not the apple on the head gravity, rather the gravity of potential harms arising from human activities on the environment. Recent history has shown that decision makers tend to overlook the potentially grave consequences of their decisions. The BP spill in the Gulf is an example of an activity getting approved due to the assumed and/or presented low probability of a catastrophe occurring. Are our decision makers optimistic to a fault? Do regulators rely on the low probability of grievous harm to rationalize approvals?
The emphasis on the low probability of events occurring extends from our use of a risk management approach to decision-making and has become central to environmental impact assessments. The risk management approach dictates that we ask all the rights questions. What is the potential for environmental harms? What is the nature of that harm? Can the harm be mitigated?
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