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Earth Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Paleoecology of Quaternary Drylands by Werner Smykatz-Kloss, Peter Felix-Henningsen (Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences: Springer Verlag) The twelve contributions in this volume represent the results of a ten year interdisciplinary workshop on 'desert margins' - concerned with the geomorphological, geochemica, mineralogical, sedimentological, soil scientific characterisation of (semi-) deserts in Spain, Africa, Arabia and China. Desert sediments and soils as well as processes and characteristics of their formation are regarded from different geoscientific perspectives. The subjects of research include the development of desert soils and landscapes, the formation of (alluvial) loess, swamp ores, fulgurites and floodout sediments and focus and focus on the reconstruction of palaeoecological events and changes. A critical study of dating methods rounds off completes the book.

In various periods throughout the younger earth history comparable changes in climate occurred globally and simultaneously. Such global events can be reconstructed with the help of reliefs, sediments and palaeosoils and their specific morphological, chemical and mineralogical properties. Desert margins represent intersections between arid and humid ecosystems. Their geographical position will react very sensitively on climatic changes. The broad regions of transformation between recent humid ecosystems and the fully arid deserts are the proper areas where palaeoclimatically different phases will be remarkably recognized and interpreted.

Aeolian sediments, e.g. dunes, can be used as palaeoclimatic indicators: palaeodunes in todays more humid climate may indicate arid conditions at the time of their deposition. As an example, fossil dunes are widely distributed in the Sahel south of the Sahara. In resting periods of sedimentation a cover of vegetation appears, and chemical weathering processes and hence soil formation takes place on the sediments in humid climates (see Felix-Henningsen, Heine, Rögner et al., Smykatz-Kloss et al.). In deeper positions of the relief fluvial sediments in wadis and limnic sediments in palaeolakes and playas were deposited. They can be recognized by their sedimentary structures and by characteristic mineral associations, such as for example transformed evaporites (see Rögner et al., Schutt, Heine), by diatomites and lacustrine sediments (see Baumhauer et al.) or by bog ores (see Felix-Henningsen). At some rare occasions the coastline of a former lake is traced by fulgurites (see Sponholz). The organogenic components of soils and sediments mirror the palaeoecological conditions and changes (see Smykatz-Kloss et al.). The pollen communities in upper soils and sediments show the spectrum of the vegetation and thus deliver important criteria for palaeoclimates and relative ages (see Baumhauer et al.). Anthropogenic relicts in soils and sediments are a proof for humid phases. The existence of humid phases and their relative occurrences in the stratigraphical context and the kinds of sediments and palaeosoils allow the re-construction of the frequency, relative age and character of palaeoclimatic changes (see Rögner et al., Mischke et al.). Absolute dating of aeolian sediments by using luminescence methods such al TL or OSL (see Jäkel, Smykatz-Kloss et al.) and organic substances (14C) — where present — indicate the age position. If the sets of data are sufficiently dense, a picture can be obtained about the time periods of the humid and arid climate phases (Eitel et al., Rögner et al., Smykatz-Kloss et al.).

The signals of arid periods can partly be discovered widely distributed, e.g. over the desert margins to off-shore regions in the oceans. Thus, Leuschner, Sirocko et al. describe layers of (aeolian) dust from Saudi-Arabia in drilling profiles of the Arabian Sea: the geochemical and sedimentological evaluation of these palaeo-loesses in the marine sediment cores contributes to the reconstruction of palaeo-monsoon movements (Leuschner et al.).

Questions on the palaeo-ecological interpretation of drylands and desert mar-gins are explored in the German working group "desert margins" and in many interdisciplinary projects. The group conferences are held annually in January at the Rauischholzhausen castle near Gießen. This working group, which has also acted as the German representation for several international geological correlation programmes (all concerned with desert research: IGCP 250, 349, 410), was established seven years ago by the editors of this volume. It is made up of approximately 50 geoscientists of (nearly) all disciplines: geomorphologists, geologists, mineralogists, geochemists, soil scientists, geochronologists, sedimentologists – as well as several palynologists, geobotanists and archaeologists.

At the beginning a pilot project built the core of the research (group) comprising nine projects from the edges of the Sahara (Reichelt, Baumhauer et al., Felix-Henningsen, Rögner et al., Schulz et al., Smykatz-Kloss et al., Sponholz) and of the Namib (Eitel et al., Heine). After a while the study areas were extended to-wards the north-west (Spain: Schutt, Günter) and – primarily – (north-) eastwards across the Arabic world (Leuschner, Sirocko et al.) towards Central Asia (Grunert & Lehmkuhl; Mischke, Hofmann et al.; Walther). Methodical questions on age analysis (dating of young sediments and aridic soils) and the correlation between chemical weathering (geochemistry, soil science) and palaeoecology are the themes that raise the regional and subject specific results onto a global scale (Jäkel; Eitel, Blümel & Huser; Felix-Henningsen; Heine; Leuschner, Sirocko et al.; Rögner et al.; Schutt; Smykatz-Kloss et al.).

The investigation of the desert margins as suitable indicators for global climatic fluctuations belongs to the basic research in palaeoecology. The obtained results contribute to the efforts of several earth scientific disciplines in order to under-stand and reconstruct the causes, frequencies and time periods of palaeoclimatological events and changes. This is especially important on the background of the recent global temperature increase, which is mainly anthropogenetically initiated, and of regional climatic catastrophes. The prognosis of long-term consequences on the base of modeling exhibits many uncertainties concerning the frequency, duration and amplitude of natural climatic fluctuations.

Additionally, the results of studies on desert margins enrich our knowledge on the complexities of landscape formation and on the distribution pattern of their re-sources (e.g. soils and groundwater) in dependence on extremely different climatic conditions and changes. Ecosystems of savannahs and semi-deserts in the regions of desert margins and the people living there are endangered in their existence by short- and long-term climatic fluctuations. The research data of the working group contribute to a more pronounced understanding of these ecosystems: not only the studied structures and processes, but their development in time, their formation and disappearance under the influence of global climatic changes have to be regarded. Geomorphological research in these climatic regions (e.g. the desert margins) will only be effective if the various geo- and bioscientific disciplines will work together. The contributions in this volume may prove this.

 Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning edited by Bart R. Johnson, Kristina Hill, Robert Melnick (Island Press)  Professionals, faculty, and students are aware of the pressing need to integrate ecological principles into environmental design and planning education, but few materials exist to facilitate that development. Ecology and Design addresses that shortcoming by articulating priorities and approaches for incorporating ecological principles in the teaching of landscape design and planning.. The book argues shat ecology should be included as a standard part of landscape architecture and design and planning curricula, ‑providing insight on how that can be done and citing examples of successful programs. Ecology and Design examines the need‑ for change in the education and practice of landscape architecture; asks what designers: and planners need to know about ecology card: what applied ecologists can learn from design .and planning  develops conceptual .frameworks needed .to .realize .an ecologically based ‑appro­ach ‑to design and planning; offers recommendations for the integration. of ecology within curricula;  explores innovative approaches to collaboration among designers and ecologists.
Ecology and Design represents an important guidepost and source of ideas for faculty, students, and professionals in landscape architecture, planning, architecture,‑ landscape ecology, civil engineering, and related fields.

Author summary: Ecology, the study of interactions between organisms and their environments, has long been a compelling theme for faculty, practitioners, and students of landscape design and planning.' Frederick Law Olmsted's visionary public designs, Jens Jensen's native plantings, May Watt's observations of vernacular landscapes, and Ian McHarg's book, Design with Nature, are all milestones of ecological thinking in landscape design and planning. Many contemporary designers and planners identify an understanding of ecology as crucial to their work Yet ecology is a rapidly evolving field that has undergone major paradigm shifts in the past two decades. It no longer presupposes a "balance of nature," but instead describes the natural world in terms of flux and change. Moreover, new fields of applied ecology such as conservation biology and restoration ecology have emerged in response to the global biodiversity crisis, a crisis inherently linked to the need to provide burgeoning human populations a reasonable quality of life. How can designers and planners respond to these increasingly global challenges, which require an integrated understanding of human societies and ecosystems? How will new theories of nature affect the theory and practice of landscape design and the collaborations that take place between scientists and designers?

Designers and planners are not alone in grappling with the interdependence of humans and natural systems. Many ecologists have come to recognize humans as keystone species in most, if not all, ecosystems. In a key development, some are beginning to emphasize urban ecosystems as critical landscape features. Other ecologists have identified training in human dimensions of landscape change as an emerging need in conservation science education. Scientific practitioners are looking for new ways to col­laborate as well.

Landscape designers, planners, and applied ecologists belong to a diverse group of disciplines that face common needs to integrate cultural and eco­logical understanding toward prescriptions for land protection and change. The extent to which they succeed in this endeavor depends not only on how scholars and professionals rethink their research and practice, but also on the priorities they establish for the next generation of scholars and practitioners through education.

That education, particularly its foundations and methods, is the subject of this book. We intend to stimulate faculty to think broadly and creatively about how they incorporate ecological knowledge in design and physical planning curricula, and to offer specific approaches to teaching. We ask what conceptual foundation and practical skills are needed for practitioners to develop ecologically responsible practices, and how they can adapt to a regu­latory environment that is increasingly shaped by technical debates about environmental trends and impacts. How can we initiate collaborations with colleagues from the natural sciences to stimulate mutual learning and improved design and planning? How can we bring ecological accountability to design education while supporting our traditions of innovation and inspi­ration through art? …

We have organized the chapters in this volume in four main parts. The first, "Theories of Nature in Ecology and Design," is composed of three chapters that focus on the shifts that have occurred in theories of ecology and design that draw on nature as a source of authority. Part ll, "Perspectives on Theory and Practice," is a set of four chapters that ask what designers and planners need to know about ecology from a range of professional, theoretical, practical, and philosophical perspectives. The third part, "Education for Practice," contains three chapters that explore the conceptual frameworks needed to realize an ecologically based approach to design and planning education and how that foundation can lead to more meaningful practice. Part IV, "Pre­scriptions for Change," includes six synthetic papers derived from conference working groups that offer recommendations for the integration of ecology within a landscape architecture curriculum and consider the links from edu­cation to professional practice. We conclude with a chapter that examines the key ideas presented in the book and identifies unresolved issues for future dialogue. In it we also consider shared ideas and points of contention that may evolve into different schools of thought in future design theory and practice.

With this book we have posed a question: What is an appropriate relation­ship between design and ecology, and in education and practice? Many voices need to be heard. They range from artists to scientists, from thoughtful aca­demics to down‑to‑earth practitioners, and from visionary advocates to crit­ical skeptics. We do not advocate a single solution, but rather a diversity of approaches sufficient to match the diversity of ecological, cultural, and insti­tutional systems we inhabit.

Sometimes a single moment can capture the core of a complex issue. After two days of presentation and discussion at the Shire Conference, we all boarded a large bus and headed out into the landscape. Looking over the Columbia Gorge from a roadside perch hundreds of feet above the river, we were struck by the stunning beauty of the place: the brilliant blue of the sky meeting the shadowed rock of sheer cliffs, the dark green of the forested slopes and the bright green of agricultural fields cast against the brilliant blue of the wide Columbia River. And yet against this backdrop, Jim Karr was speaking of the Columbia Gorge as a collapsing ecosystem, of plummeting salmon populations, of agricultural chemicals dumping into the river, of an ecosystem on the verge of collapse from the combined weight of urban and rural development, pollution, dams, timber harvest, and poor agricultural practices. Collapsing ecosystems may be perceived as beautiful, and not everyone may see beauty in intact ones. But there seems to be no intrinsic conflicts between beauty and ecological health.

There are, however, important questions that must still be answered. How do we resolve the disparity between our aesthetic perceptions of beauty and the functional realities of ecosystems, which embody so many forces invisible to the uninformed eye? How can we align human aspirations and practices with new understandings of how ecosystems work? How do we make knowledge gener­ated in the halls of academia relevant in the offices of professional practice, and what in turn do we need to learn from those who day after day face the chal­lenges and insights of practice? The words stewardship, right living, care, and compassion come to mind as some of the most essential qualities for an eco­logical and humanistic approach to design and planning. Yet good attitudes and heartfelt goals are unlikely to succeed without skills, proficiency, critical think­ing, and the creative interplay of ideas from far-ranging fields.

Education that aims to mold the ways people understand, imagine, and propose landscapes is an enthralling yet daunting enterprise. In the process of making this book, we have learned that our question is not "What from ecology should be incorporated in design?" or "What from design and plan­ning is relevant to ecology?" Rather, from our historical position in the early years of the twenty‑first century, we are asking, "What does it mean to be a designer? What does it mean to be an ecologist?" The answers are as much a process of learning as of teaching.

A Dictionary of Environmental Economics, Science, and Policy by R. Quentin Grafton, Linwood H. Pendleton, Harry W. Nelson (Edward Elgar) This comprehensive new dictionary is an important reference tool for all those interested in environmental science and environmental studies. Written in a clear and accessible style, the dictionary includes over three thousand up-to-date entries, all accompanied by a detailed yet straightforward definition covering all aspects of the subject.
A Dictionary of Environmental Economics, Science, and Policy also includes three primers, which will bridge the gap between each discipline covered. These consist of introductions to environmental economics, international environmental problems and environmental systems, dynamics and modeling. Another unique feature is the inclusion of an appendix which lists and describes the world’s major international environmental agreements.
This A Dictionary of Environmental Economics, Science, and Policy with its primers and appendices will prove immensely useful to all students and scholars of environmental science and studies.

Without a holistic view of the environment that transcends disciplines, we can never hope to have a comprehensive understanding of our world. Unfortunately, the language of each discipline includes its own set of jargon and words that are commonly used by people within a discipline but, frequently, cannot be understood by people from the outside. Too often, these barriers prevent us from understanding and developing a systematic view of our environment.

A Dictionary of Environmental Economics, Science, and Policy offers a reference that bridges the gap between the disciplines of environmental economics, environmental sciences and environmental studies. It provides a comprehensive set of words used in environmental, ecological and resource economics. In addition, the dictionary includes a selection of some of the most important and frequently used words in the environmental sciences and environmental studies. The book includes over 3,300 words from abatement to zooplankton and, where further explanations are required, further reading and references are provided. The dictionary is not only a ready‑reference for students, but should prove useful to policy makers and professionals who need to understand the many different terms and concepts about the environment.

A Dictionary of Environmental Economics, Science, and Policy has a number of unique features. Included are three primers that provide introductions to the topics of Environmental Economics, International Environmental Problems, and Environmental Systems, Dynamics and Modeling. These primers can be used as reviews or introductions in many different courses and programs on the environment. In addition, the dictionary has a list of annotated references that provides a useful introduction to the topics covered in the dictionary, a comprehensive list of references referred to in the definitions and seven appendices that include; the Greek alphabet, Roman numerals, the systeme intemationale (SI) units, prefixes for the SI, common abbreviations for measures and units, the geological time‑scale, and a listing and description of selected environmental treaties. The appendix on environmental treaties should be helpful to readers who are interested in knowing what we are doing to sustain the global environment.


With the increasing scarcity of environmental services and natural resources, it has become ever more critical to manage the environment more efficiently. Resource managers and environmental regulators must combine natural science and economics into more effective policies. The natural sciences are critical for understanding the link between actions and consequences in nature. Economics is critical for understanding what markets will do and how to design public programs to maximize net social benefits.

As most observers instinctively know, the economy is the greatest threat to nature. It is economic activities that are at the heart of most pollution, most solid and municipal waste, and most of the destruction of natural systems. In society's active pursuit of material wealth, the environment can sometimes suffer. One reason to study economics is to better understand the economy and understand why the economy uses natural resources, pollutes the air and water, and compromises pristine ecosystems.

There are many reasons why markets may not make efficient environmental and natural resource decisions. Sometimes market decision makers simply overlook their impact on the environment. Sometimes there are multiple owners of resources and responsibility is diluted. Sometimes there are no owners of a resource and people rush to use it before anyone else can. All of the above market failures suggest that the economy sometimes fails to manage environmental and natural resources carefully.

When market failures occur, the government must play an active role, regulating the market and encouraging investments into natural resources that would improve social outcomes. Economics plays a critical role here identifying where governments need to get involved and where markets serve effectively by themselves. Economics also helps identify how governments can best encourage markets to become efficient, how taxes can be more effectively used to control pollution, when private property rights are helpful, how trade should be managed to protect the environment, and when the government should directly manage resources.

An important second role for economics is in providing a framework to help analyze and design more effective social programs and regulations. This framework, cost‑benefit analysis, encourages governments to design programs efficiently. Environmental and natural resource programs should maximize net social benefits, the amount that benefit exceed costs. This requires governments to carefully examine and measure all the benefits of taking different actions and to make sure that these benefits are large. The government must also consider all costs and try to keep these costs well below benefits. Helping design better environmental and natural resource policies is an important role for economics.

Introducing economics into natural science and management programs and introducing natural science to economics programs has been a challenge for many traditional educational programs. Each discipline has its own language and terms. Although these terms are helpful in developing a careful discourse in each field, they also serve as barriers for interdisciplinary efforts. This technical dictionary serves an important need in many interdisciplinary programs. By providing definitions of many key economic terms, the dictionary can help students and practising professionals with diverse backgrounds master the language of economics and environmental sciences more easily. The dictionary will serve a very useful role, helping people interested in environmental and natural resource topics understand each other.

A Dictionary of Environmental Economics, Science, and Policy serves another important role as well. By providing a basic primer on economics, international environmental problems and ecological modeling, it provides a wonderful introduction to environmental‑economic models and thinking. The first primer can give the reader a quick grasp of the most critical insights that economics has to offer environmental management without being waylaid by an entire text. The second primer reviews the major conflicts arising in the international environmental arena. The third primer covers a set of ecosystem models from basic nutrient flow diagrams to fish populations. These primers serve as excellent introductions to each field.

The final contribution of the book is an excellent set of appendices that are basic reference materials in this field. The appendices cover the Greek alphabet (used often in modeling), Roman numerals, international scientific units, international prefixes, abbreviations, geological time, and international environmental treaties. This is a highly useful reference section for economics, international law and environmental science.

This book is a valuable reference source for professionals in natural resource and environmental management and for non‑specialists. I recommend that practitioners get a copy for their own reference and that courses in this area adopt the book as a supplemental text.

Environmental Risk Planning and Management edited by Simon Gerrard, R. Kerry Turner, Ian Bateman (Managing the Environment for Sustainable Development Series: Edward Elgar) The assessment and management of risks to human health and the environment has become a topic of increasing importance and presents one of the major challenges to modern society. This comprehensive volume draws together key papers from a range of different perspectives and offers the reader an important insight into the basic principles of environmental risk management.

Topics include the background to environmental risk, human health and ecological risk assessment, risk perception and communication, strategic issues in corporate environmental risk and environmental risk and sitting hazardous facilities. It includes 42 articles, dating from 1983 to 1999. Contributors include: C.J. Atman, V.T. Covello, B. Fischhoff, J.X. Kasperson, R.E. Kasperson, T. O’Riordan, S. Rayner, O. Renn, P. Sandman, P. Slovic

The inclusion of risk planning and management in this series on sustainable environmental management is indicative of the increasing importance of risk in modern‑day environmental management. However, identifying and managing risks has been an intrinsic part of human survival and development. The earliest documented risk managers were operating in 320OBC (Covello and Mumpower 1985). However, it is only relatively recently that risk management as we are coming to understand it has emerged. Modern risk management involves integrating multiple disciplines ranging from epidemiology to economics and from physics to psychology. The modern risk manager has to have an appreciation not only of the individual components of risk management‑assessment, perception, communication, decision‑making‑but also of the connections between them. This is particularly the case for environmental issues where recognizing and understanding the connectivity between environmental and human functions is becoming increasingly recognized as the foundation for the next stage of the development of environmental science.

The emergence of the connective nature of environmental risk management creates a pressing need to integrate the different components of risk management in effective and efficient ways. Moreover, this must be done whilst providing timely policy‑relevant outcomes. This presents two significant challenges to the modern risk manager. The first involves the relationship between the scientific and policy communities. This challenge does not apply exclusively to environ­mental risk issues though issues such as radioactive waste disposal and the genetic modification of crops and food have highlighted tensions between the scientific and policy communities. Responding to this challenge means answering the question, 'to what extent should risk assessment as a scientific activity be bound up with the policy‑making process?'. There are those who believe that science is a wholly independent activity that should remain external to the policy‑making process. On the other hand others believe that science is intrinsically linked to the political arena and thus any semblance of independence is wholly artificial.

The second challenge for environmental risk involves the integration of the natural and social sciences. This is occasionally characterized in terms of the debate on the appropriateness of quantitative versus qualitative approaches to risk management. There is a tendency in some quarters to describe natural sciences as 'hard' and social sciences as 'soft'. The environmental risk manager must make efforts to integrate both the rigorous quantitative approaches utilized by the engineering and epidemiological sciences but equally the more qualitative approaches adopted by social psychology and anthropology. This often uneasy alliance must be strengthened if the policy‑relevance imperative is to be met.

Though the field of risk management is relatively new, spanning the last thirty years or so, interest in risk issues continues to increase, seemingly exponentially. As a result there is now a burgeoning academic literature on risk funded by a wide range of public and private sources and published in an increasingly diverse set of academic journals. Government and business decision‑makers are focusing much attention on getting to grips with the concept of risk. Nongovernmental organizations such as consumer organizations, local residents' associations and environmental pressure groups are also interacting with the risk community. The risk management field is a relatively young and vibrant community with many voices articulating many perspectives on a multitude of risk‑related issues. As such it presents a significant challenge to the would‑be editor of a volume on risk management. There are already numerous `handbooks' on risk that require unusually large hands.

Environmental risk in the context of this volume relates primarily to human health and ecological risk rather than engineering or financial risk. Deliberate choices have been made at the outset to present a range of perspectives on the subject of environmental risk planning and management. Multiple, diverse and sometimes conflicting definitions and understandings of risk are challenging. One key question which arises is how best to meet this challenge. Again there are multiple perspectives on this. Perhaps running against the grain of the traditional scientific approach, which seeks to find some kind of universal true perspective on risk, some of the more persuasive arguments highlight the very real difficulties of attempting to develop a unified risk language ‑ a risk Esperanto. This fruitless challenge is slowly being supplanted by an approach that supports new forms of deliberative communication about risk that facilitates understanding of the different perspectives that are held by different individuals and groups within the risk field.

Risk Management as a Cyclical Process

Risk management has often been depicted as a linear process with clear starting and finishing points. In diagrammatic form this usually encompasses a starting point involving hazard identification, moving to risk assessment and risk characterization and ultimately leading to policy development and policy implementation. More recently however it has become clear that risk management is a cyclical process with strong feedback loops. Both the 1997 United States Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management and the United Kingdom Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology have recognized the validity of cyclical risk management emphasizing feedback between its elements. This kind of approach reinforces the importance of the broader context in which the management of risk is occurring and the need to learn from previous experiences.

Learning from previous experiences is an important feature of modern environmental risk management. The underlying goal is often described in terms of the need to develop effective risk management strategies. However, although much has been written about effective risk management, it is not always associated with a clear statement about the precise nature of the desired effect. This is problematic because it is possible to conceive of several different aims of managing risk: for example, to reduce accidents; to optimize resource expenditure; to balance risks and benefits; to distribute risks fairly; to gain trust and credibility; or to secure office. Without knowing the fundamental aim of risk management, it is difficult to specify the effectiveness of any particular risk management strategy. Furthermore, in the absence of mechanisms for evaluating risk management policies, it is impossible to be sure about how effective they have been, even if the aim of the risk management strategy is clear from the outset.

We are still some way from a fully connective risk management discipline. However, progress is being made on many fronts, ranging from calls to include risk management within school curricula to the increasingly dynamic interface between risk researchers, policy‑makers, business leaders, non‑governmental organizations and the public.

Chapter Structure and Highlights

The selection of papers included in this volume covers both theoretical and practical aspects of environmental risk management. The volume is divided into six parts. The first part introduces the main key concepts of environmental risk management through reviews of the historical development of risk analysis (Covello and Mumpower 1985) and issues related to definitions of risk management and its components (Somers 1995; Dietz et al. 1989; Jardine and Hrudey 1997). Included here is one paper (Viscusi 1993) on the economic dimensions of risk which considers the 'value of (statistical) life' as it is sometimes incorporated into risk‑cost‑benefit analyses. This is a huge field in its own right and Viscusi's paper is intended to provide the reader with an introduction and gateway to the field. Economists have contributed much to risk management, in particular through the provision of a structured, justifiable approach to risk decision‑making. However, economists would be the first to agree that risk decision‑making usually goes beyond simple cost‑benefit calculations, which are a useful but limited tool for the risk manager.

In order to illustrate the breadth of influences in risk management and the challenge brought with it, the paper by Kasperson and Kasperson (1996) on the social amplification and attenuation of risk is included. This remains one of the key, overarching frameworks developed to help understand the ways in which risk issues are played out in the modern world. It is now more than a decade since the fledgling framework was published. Though it has proved to be rather unwieldy to use as an analytical tool and is even less capable as a predictive tool, it continues to provoke interest among those with responsibility for regulating and managing risks. At one level case study research using the framework has highlighted key lessons to be learned. This includes recognizing the importance of the media in influencing the development of risk issues and any subsequent impacts. The framework is inclusive, which illustrates the fact that many groups and individuals are involved in framing risk issues, even those that perceive themselves to be on the sidelines. In some instances, not saying or doing anything in response to an emerging risk issue can be as influential as reacting purposefully and volubly from the outset. To date, research based on the social amplification framework has tended to focus on its different components. If we are to progress towards a more coherent view of risk management then it may be necessary to focus more upon the linkages between the components. The connectivity between risk perception and its communication is emerging in the field of mental models and risk communication (set the contributions by Atman et al. 1994 and Bostrom et al. 1994 in Part III). However, this type of effort will need to be spread more widely if the social amplification framework is ever to be turned into a predictive model.

The final paper in Part I considers the future for risk research. Turner (1994) identifies the importance of recognizing and understanding context in managing risk. This is a theme that runs throughout the volume. In particular Turner stresses the need to account for situations where risks are taken by choice, as assumed by the majority of decision theoretic perspectives, or imposed by sources of risk outside of our control. The latter is generally more the case for environmental risks.

Part II focuses on the assessment of human health and ecological risk. Human health and ecological approaches to risk assessment are similar in many ways yet also differ in important ways, not least in the increasing levels of complexity posed by ecological systems. Solomon (1996) provides a useful review of developments. Getting to grips with the probabilistic elements of risk assessment continues to provide significant challenges. Solbe (1999) reviews the role of technical guidance in developing approaches to manage chemicals in the environment. Quantitative approaches for dealing with uncertainty and indeterminacy are covered by Ricci and Cirillo (1985) and Gough (1991). Many of the papers in Part II use practical examples and case studies to illustrate key points in human and ecological risk assessment. Ricci and Cirillo (1985) look at waterborne total arsenic; Suter et al. (1995) consider hazardous waste sites; and Kavlock and Ankley (1996) focus on endocrine disruptive effects. The final two papers attempt to put human and ecological risk assessment into context. Lemly (1996) looks at the regulatory implications for risk assessment of wetlands while Burger (1994) considers how best to measure the outcomes of ecological risk assessment.

Having established the basics of human health and ecological risk assessment, Part III considers the perception and communication of risk. Risk perception research has been dominated by two main challenges: first, to explain how people perceive risks differently, and second, to understand why this is so. It has been characterized by studies attempting to explain why experts and lay people perceive risks differently. This rather simplistic notion is now being challenged and evidence is emerging about how perceptions may differ within scientific communities (Barke et al. 1997). Fischhoff (1995) and Laird (1989) provide good reviews of the roles of risk perception and communication in risk management. The former provides a step‑by‑step history of `progress' while the latter sets the development of the field in a wider context. It is now clear that perceptions of risk are often bound up in complicated ways with attitudes to wider issues involving governance, the control of science and the operation of business and industry within society.

Different approaches to understanding risk perception are included here. Wildavsky and Dake (1990) provide a useful introduction to different theories of risk perception, including knowledge theory, personality theory, economic theory, political theory and cultural theory. The latter is dealt with in more detail by Tansey and 0'Riordan (1999). The two papers from Camegie Mellon University focus on the development of the mental models approach (Atman et al. 1994; Bostrom et al.1994). The development of a mental models approach to understanding risk perception is particularly timely as we enter a time of policy and social relevance because the approach lends itself to the development of practical communication tools to overcome perceptual barriers.

The next set of papers in Part III focuses on risk communication. Renn (1998) provides an excellent review of the role of risk communication and highlights the importance of understanding risk communication as a subset of wider public dialogue. This is reiterated by Peters et al. (1997), who consider issues of trust and credibility, two features which are central to, but transcend, the field of environmental risk management, and by Kasperson (1986) in his consideration of risk communication and public participation. Papers by Sandman et al. (1994), Lave and Lave (1991) and Eijndhoven et al. (1994) contain practical case study material in different contexts.

Part IV consists of four papers illustrating the emerging field of corporate environmental risk planning and management. Path‑Comell (1996) uses contrasting examples of the Piper Alpha and the Space Shuttle disasters to explore the balance between technical and organizational risk management. Neale (1997) picks up and extends this theme in the context of the Brent Spar. He considers the ways in which the Post‑Altman model of corporate greening through adjustment, adaptation and innovation can be applied to organizational learning. Santos et al. (1996) take the example of SARA Title III (Community Right to Know) laws in the United States to examine how industrial pollution prevention practices have changed since the introduction of the legislation that has forced industry to report more openly about its performance. The opening up of traditionally closed systems is a process characterizing much of modern‑day risk management. Principles such as honesty, openness and transparency are widely used, albeit rhetorically in some instances. Mascini (1998) looks at the social aspects of accident reporting and illustrates some of the systematic biases that occur in the generation of accident and near‑accident reporting. Again this emphasizes the importance of context (in this case human and organizational factors) in the strategic management of corporate environmental risk.

One well‑established area of environmental risk planning and management research focuses on the siting of hazardous facilities. Many risk management activities have sought to answer the question, how safe is safe enough? For siting issues this has been refrained as, how close is close enough? In Part V Lindell and Earle (1983) report the existence of different perceptions of distance among different groups. Whatever the precise distance, it is clear that the siting of hazardous facilities such as nuclear power plants, radioactive waste repositories, waste incinerators, hazardous waste landfill sites, chemical plants and even hospitals has become a major problem for many modem economies. Deriving an appropriate distribution of risks and benefits is a pressing challenge for developers and planners. The papers presented in Part V illustrate some of the important risk management dimensions that require consideration. Kasperson et al. (1992) consider distrust as a feature of siting processes. Kunreuther et al. (1993) present a facility siting credo -- a recipe approach for successful siting. Field et al. (1996) identify the pervasiveness of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) and suggest, as a counter to it, improving the ability of communities to negotiate greater benefits to their localities, such as improved infrastructure or services. Clearly some regard additional community benefits as a rational part of the decision‑making process where the benefits are balanced with additional risks. Others however may regard this compensatory approach as nothing more than a bribe. This highlights the complexity of dealing with different perceptions of risk in a siting issue. History shows that the size of a group opposed to development is not always indicative of its power. Understanding of the rules of engagement is arguably a better indicator of likely influence. The role of minority groups in influencing debates is only just becoming more widely understood as are the ways that such `minority' groups can now share information, join forces and become fully networked into very powerful organizations.

The final part of this volume focuses on the management of environmental risk. Two papers by Thompson and Rayner (1998) and Thompson et al. (1998) provide an in‑depth review of the risk management of one of modem society's most important challenges, global climate change. Feldman et al. (1999) focus on the emerging tool of comparative risk assessment as a means to strike the right balance between competing risk management issues. This theme is explored in different contexts by both Bennett (1999), in terms of the role of insurance, and Zeckhauser and Viscusi (1996), in terms of the relationships between risk regulation and market processes.

Emerging Issues for Environmental Risk Management

The papers in this volume have been selected to illustrate the multiple dimensions of environmental risk management and cover a wide range of concepts, issues and practical case studies.

Looking to the future, three key issues are emerging. First, as the importance of policy and socially relevant research increases, there is a pressing need to integrate risk perception and communication to provide practical tools to help manage expensive and unproductive conflicts. Ongoing research into the intended and unintended consequences of reformulating decisionmaking processes will lead to a better understanding of which kinds of processes work best in different situations. This is by no means to suggest that conflict should be eliminated entirely but to recognize that some issues can result in huge social and economic impacts that are arguably disproportionate to the risks involved. This raises the important issue of appropriate levels of precaution. One of the important challenges for a sustainable society is the need to establish appropriate precautionary measures. Doing so will rely on learning from experience; hence evaluating our performance at managing risks becomes ever more influential.

Second, risk management has to address the prospect of increasing globalization. While it may be possible for organizations such as the World Trade Organization to rely on standardized mechanisms for risk assessment as a tool to promote free trade (though this is by no means guaranteed), it is certainly questionable whether such standards can be derived for best practice in risk perception and communication. Risk management has to incorporate procedural issues particularly relating to decision‑making processes. These types of processes differ enormously between nations and regions. The very different responses to the threats of genetic modified organisms (GMOs) in Europe and the United States, both of which are modern Western democratic economies, illustrate the influence of socio‑cultural issues. Indeed one of the most pressing concerns is how to include the excluded in decision‑making processes. This is not an issue solely for the risk manager, but involves much broader issues of governance that drive to the heart of sustainable society of which risk is often a relatively minor component.

Third, it is important not to lose sight of the wood for the trees. It is true that risk is an important issue that requires careful handling. However, risk per se is part of a wider subset of issues that encompass broader dimensions such as trust, communication, environmental and social change, and sustainability. Over‑focusing on the narrow technical dimensions of risk is unlikely to lead to successful management of the many and diverse environmental problems facing us today and in the future.

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