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In this module, the problem-driven nature of policy development is discussed.

Learning objectives

After reading this module, students should be able to

  • understand the problem-driven nature of policy development, from relatively local agricultural problems to regional problems often driven by industrial development to global problems associated with population-driven human consumption

Complex environmental problems

NEPA, both in tone and purpose, was in sharp contrast to the many environmental laws that followed in the 1970s and 1980s that defined increasingly proscriptive methods for controlling risks from chemical exposure (this is sometimes termed the " command-and-control " approach to environmental management). In many ways these laws and regulations are ill-suited to the types of environmental problems that have emerged in the past twenty years. Whereas the focus of our environmental policy has been on mitigating risk from local problems that are chemical – and media – (land, water, or air) specific, the need has arisen to address problems that are far more complex, multi-media, and are of large geographic, sometimes global, extent.

An early example of this type of shift in the complexity of environmental problems is illustrated by the phenomenon of acidic rainfall , a regional problem that occurs in many areas across the globe. Although the chemical cause of acid rain is acidic gases (such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides ) released into the atmosphere from combustion processes (such as coal burning), the problem was made considerably worse because of the approach to problem solving typical of the day for episodes such as the Donora disaster (see Figures Zinc Smelter and Noon in Donora ).

Hydrogen Ion Concentrations as pH for 1996
Hydrogen Ion Concentrations as pH for 1996 . Figure shows the distribution in rainfall pH in the United States for the year 1996. Source: National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network via National Park Service .

In order to prevent the local accumulation of contaminants, emission stacks were made much taller, effectively relying on the diluting power of the atmosphere to disperse offending pollutants. The result was a significant increase in the acidity of rainfall downwind of major sources, with associated impacts on aquatic and forest resources. Figure Hydrogen Ion Concentrations as pH for 1996 shows this pattern for the eastern United States in 1996. A more comprehensive solution to this problem (short of replacing coal as a fuel source), has involved integrated activity on many fronts: science to understand the impacts of acid rain, technology to control the release of acidic gases, politics in the form of amendments to the Clean Air Act , social equity that defined the role of regional responsibilities in the face of such large geographic disparities, and economics to understand the total costs of acid rain and design markets to spread the costs of control. Although acidic rainfall is still an issue of concern, its impacts have been mitigated to a significant degree.

Questions & Answers

Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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