Old contaminated sites Previously unrecognized environmental damage
Societal sensitivity to environmental quality is increasing at the same time as the accumulated evidence of poor past practices are becoming conspicuous. Much of present day contamination of the environment was made by agencies which cannot be identified or companies which no longer exist. It is debatable whether polluters should be liable for former actions which accorded to the prevailing laws and scientific knowledge of the time. However, the tendency is increasingly for organizations to be held responsible for the errors of the past where these have produced costly and persistent contamination problems in the present. Examples are contamination of soils or groundwater through dumping of chemicals or leaching of toxins from wastes.
In the UK in 1992, it was estimated that the cost of cleaning up contaminated land was in excess of 30 billion pounds. Completion of a register of contaminated land has been delayed indefinitely by the Government amid fears by property developers that it might erode the value of sites and bring demands for an expensive clean up, and concerns by the Government that inner city regeneration programmes could be adversely affected.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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