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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals Appendix D Summary of Responses to Call for Comments Provided below is a brief summary of the responses received to the call for comments: Question 1: What can science and technology contribute to meeting current national environmental goals? Cost-effectiveness was one of the most common elements mentioned throughout the survey and was obviously one of the key parts of the responses to all the questions. Form a defensible basis for policy and strategy formation focusing on cost-effective, socially acceptable, and phased solutions. Define problems better, including their scale and possible actions or solutions to resolve problems. Communicate answers and provide tools to members of the public so that they can understand problems and solutions. Conduct effective and reliable risk and cost-benefit analysis so that resources are allocated to solve real problems and priorities can be set. Demonstrate and define the effectiveness and efficiency of available environmental remediation techniques and make these techniques faster, safer, cheaper, more innovative, and more effective. A smaller group of more technical responses followed some of the themes outlined above: Determine the fundamental mechanism causing a problem and the source of that cause, including spelling out the underlying physical processes involved,
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals identifying potentially unsustainable uses of resources, and determining the significance of environmental stress. Develop new and improved industrial, transportation, and energy ''green processes" that reduce levels of primary pollutants, use more recycled materials, produce more easily recycled products, reduce the use of hazardous waste, and prevent pollution. Develop more advanced measurement instrumentation and platforms that provide more accurate, detailed, timely, and cost-effective assessment of pollutant distributions, background biogeochemical states and processes, interactive monitoring, and real-time information. Better manage science and technology, including balancing facts and figures with human dimensions of cooperation, attitudes, and issues. Undertake rigorous analysis of available information relevant to goals. Question 2: What do you believe should be the nation's environmental goals for the future? As indicated by one participant: Environmental goals are, by nature, multi-faceted, and a detailed listing of all important issues is subject to preferences and priorities. To avoid these choices at this stage, we believe that stating the following overall goal is more productive and allows specifics to be developed later. The nation's environmental goal should be to achieve an economy built on the principles of Sustainable Development. …This can guide the creation of more specific goals and focused objectives. After that one overarching response, there was no particular consensus. Other key responses were these: Preserve (or improve) all natural resources as they exist. Reform environmental legislation and regulation so that they are more cost-effective and flexible without reducing environmental quality. Question 3: How can science and technology contribute to meeting these future goals? Provide framework for any future environmental goals. Create cost-effective technical opportunities. Develop new options. Communicate to public and politicians. Develop measurement tools. Understand long-term consequences of today's solutions. Reduce degree of uncertainty in problem solving. Understand complex systems. Develop sound scientific foundation.
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals Question 4: Provided below are the environmental goals for the United States developed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Please rank what you consider to be the top five goals by placing a number from 1 to 5 before those items: Clean Air Climate Change Risk Reduction Stratospheric Ozone Layer Restoration Clean Waters Healthy Terrestrial Ecosystems Safe Indoor Environments Safe Drinking Water Safe Food Safe Workplaces Preventing Spills and Accidents Preventing Wastes and Toxic Products Safe Waste Management Restoration of Contaminated Sites Please list other goals that you believe should be in the top five, and indicate what rank you would give them: Generally, clean air, water, food, and soil were the top concerns. Specific comments indicated that it was not appropriate to separate these topics on a medium basis and that economics should be included in the analysis. Question 5: Provided below are a few of the environmental goals for the United States currently being developed by the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development. What are your comments on these goals? Human health and equity. We envision an American society where healthy and economically secure people sustain—and are sustained by—a healthy environment. Every person breathes clean air; drinks clean water; eats safe food; and lives, works, and plays in clean, pleasant, and safe surroundings. Ecosystems. Ensure the health of ecosystems and natural processes, including protection of biological diversity and the quality of water, air, and soil. The health of ecosystems must be accomplished through efforts to restore damages ecosystems and through management of the use and enjoyment of ecosystems. Environmental quality. Attain a safe and clean environment by making pollution prevention, waste reduction, and product stewardship standard practice. Efficient production and resource utilization. Achieve a constant and significant improvement in the efficiency of materials use and production of all stages of resource development—extraction, production, manufacturing, and end use
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals (and make pollution prevention, waste reduction, and product stewardship standard practice), with corresponding reductions in resource use to sustainable levels in environmental risks. It is difficult not to agree with these goals. Is the presence of one of these contradictory to another (economic growth versus environmental protection)? Key is to define terms (e.g., clean, safe, pleasant, quality). The goals are mushy and weak. Question 6: How can science and technology contribute to achieving your selected top environmental goals? Generally, respondents either specifically indicated that there was no difference in the answer to this question and question 3, or they gave answers that were similar to those for question 3. Question 7: What are the chief barriers to achieving your top five environmental goals? These fell into five categories: (1) economic, (2) legislative and regulatory, (3) leadership and political, (4) knowledge, and (5) education. Some specific responses included: Failure to understand relation between economic activity and environmental perturbations Lack of individual responsibility and understanding Lack of focus on the 20% of issues that are causing 80 of the problems Government regulation Political forces Lack of systems approach Capital and human resources Cost-competitive technologies Adversarial relationship among business, government, and envirocrats Effective market incentives. Question 8: What would be necessary for you to conclude each goal was achieved? Responses generally fell into the following categories: Goals will never be achieved. Metrics are necessary for defining a healthy environment. Net growth in environmental perturbations is 0. There should be full integration of environmental goals into business.
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals Environmental monitoring is necessary. Economic incentives are present. There must be clear indicators of progress. Public understanding needs to be achieved. There must be an adequate number of success stories. Question 9: What information regarding science and technology's ability to aid in meeting the nation's environmental goals do you wish you had now that is unavailable? Responses included the following: Integration of science and technology with socioeconomic Response of sociopolitical system Science and technology electronic database (data, technology, programs and projects) Forums for idea sharing Clear, simply worded documents for public use Question 10: What questions should we have asked, and what are your answers? Some suggested questions follow: How do we take action on environmental goals? Technology development Relationship with other countries Scientific research Pollution prevention Society communication Policy and institutional design Tools development Balancing of cost and benefits What are possible, probable and preferable outcomes in next 20-50 years if we don't achieve our goals? What are the limits as to what science and technology can do to achieve goals?
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