Risk and social theory in environmental management by Tom Measham; Stewart Lockie

By Tom Measham; Stewart Lockie

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2002; Saha and Mohai 2005; Williams 1996). It is the poor and disadvantaged who suffer disproportionately from such environmental inequalities. There are also differential risks within at-risk populations. This is particularly apparent when it comes to socially differentiated characteristics such as age (the very young, the very old), gender (women tend to suffer more than men in circumstances of famine and disaster) and general health (mental, physical, ability/disability). g. dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan in Ivory Coast, the spraying of chemical pesticides in New York City).

It also has to locate the processes of environmental victimisation within the context of the wider political economy. That is, the dynamics of environmental harm cannot be understood apart from consideration of who has the power to make decisions, the kinds of decisions that are made, in whose interests they are made and how social practices based on these decisions are materially organised. Issues of power and control also have to be analysed in light of global economic, social and political developments.

Second, estimates of costs and benefits are often based on insufficient evidence, especially for managing never-before-experienced risks such as climate change. Definitive proof of risk may only become available following a disaster (Turner and Pidgeon 1978). Cost-benefit projections are not rigorous under 23 24 Risk and Social Theory in Environmental Management uncertainty, hence the available options are precaution or recklessness. Third, whereas benefits are immediate and financial (profits, jobs), environmental costs and harm are distant in time and space, and therefore discounted.

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