Words of Wisdom:

"i sold my soul for an essay" - Codizzle


  • Date Submitted: 03/25/2010 08:46 AM
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The Environment and Environmental Hysteria
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Fanatics see everything in absolutes.
Perspective means nothing to them(425).

In this essay I will focus on the events surrounding the regulation of Alar (diaminozide) up to and including 1985, as a case-study of knowledge and decision-making amidst uncertainty (418-19). I pick this time period in particular, because it is when the NRDC and other public interest groups began their campaign in protest against the EPA's decision to not ban Alar. My analysis of the events surrounding Alar will take shape around a critique of Michael Fumento's article "Environmental Hysteria: The Alar Scare," in which he paints the NRDC as "fanatics" launching a "smear campaign" not founded in any rational decision-making. This is an important argument to counter, because it has not only been taken up by many to condemn citizen-group action in the case of Alar, but to criticize their activities in many other regulatory processes. The chief framework used to devalue public action in these cases is the technocratic model, wherein it is believed that decisions can be best made by objective, rational experts acting based upon scientific knowledge.

In this case, we can see a perfect example of when a decision was decided by scientific experts, in accordance with the technocratic model. Fumento and other supporters of the technocratic mode privilege the scientific knowledge of bodies such as the Scientific Advisory Panel in this case over other forms of knowledge. He denounces NRDC as fanatics based on his claim that they acted in spite of, and in contradiction to scientific declarations and reports which indicated that their "Alar alarm" did not correspond to the evidence at hand (423). However, the Alar saga is typical of many regulatory decision-making processes in that the scientists and administrators were forced to act before scientific opinion has solidified around a certain determination of the dangers of the...


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