Responsible Management of Environmental Risk
Carolyn S. Browne
Responsible management of environmental risk means defining the components: renewable and non-renewable resources, natural versus human-induced environmental impacts and specific processes through the disciplines of geology, hydrology, soil science, geochemistry. Another part involves the economic effects of those risks.
A prime example for utilizing management of economic effects is the controversy over the Pacific Salmon Fishery. Science holds many of the answers such as estuaty management that impact the return of the salmon to spawning areas. Scientific examination of old maps to locate decades old earthen dams which may restrict the free flowing water in some of the Columbia River tributaries, subsequent removal of those dams may produce economic benefits. A multi-disciplined management review of all the environmental risks can produce acceptable alternatives for salmon fishery enhancement.
Application of geochemistry holds many potential keys to resolving longstanding environmental concerns provided regulatory agencies have not formulated prohibitive standards. At the recent American Association of Petroleum Geologist Hedberg Conference on Rational Science for Public Policy, a simple geochemical model was presented to cope with soil containing hydrocarbon containination. Using risk analysis for questions of natural background levels of contanmination can foster lower costs of remedial clean-ups, provide achievable environmental policies and regulations as well as foster greater education and acceptance by the general public. It is self-defeating to set standards for lower contamination limits than particular concentrations of certain elements that occur in nature.
AAPG Search and Discover Article #91019©1996 AAPG Convention and Exhibition 19-22 May 1996, San Diego, California