Environment Degradition Essay examples

1424 Words Mar 17th, 2014 6 Pages
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND THE
TYRANNY OF SMALL DECISIONS

William E. Odum[1]
BioScience Vol 32 No.9; Oct 1982; pp:728-729.

Economist Alfred E Kahn's premise of "the tyranny of small decisions" is applicable to environmental issues. Examples of so-called "small decision effects" range from loss of prime farmland and acid precipitation to mismanagement of the Florida Everglades. A holistic rather than reductionist perspective is needed to avoid the undesirable, cumulative effects of small decisions (Accepted for publication 2 March 1982).


Ideally, society's problems are resolved through a system of nested levels of public decision are made by the individual or by small groups of individuals. Higher decision-making levels
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SMALL DECISIONS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Clearly, "the tyranny of small decisions," or what might be called "small decision effects," applies to much more than market economics. Much of the current confusion and distress surrounding environmental issues can be traces to decisions that were never consciously made, but simply resulted from a series of small decisions. Consider, for example, the loss of coastal wetlands on the east coast of the United States between1950 and 1970. No one purposely planned to destroy almost 50% of the existing marshland along the coasts of Connecticut and Massachusetts. In fact, if the public had been asked whether coastal wetlands should be preserved or converted to some other use, preservation would probably have been supported. However, through hundreds of little decisions and the conversion of hundreds of small tracts of marshland, a major decision in favour of extensive wetlands conversion was made without ever addressing the issue directly.

Regional problems are highly vulnerable to small decision effects. The ecological integrity of the Florida Everglades has suffered, not from a single adverse decision, but from a multitude of small pin pricks. These include a series of independent choices to add one more drainage canal, one more roadway, one more retirement village, and one more well to provide Miami with drinking…

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