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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

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
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.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
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
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit 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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