Risk assessment should be seen in the broader context of moving towards an environmentally sustainable society based on clean production. Standard risk assessments can provide information, with the aforementioned limitations, about the probability of certain events and their likely consequences. However, this should only be one element in a decision-making process on whether to proceed with the activity which gives rise to the risk. Over-emphasis on this aspect can detract from consideration of other issues such as social need, availability of alternatives or irreversibility of effects.
Ultimately, society needs to adopt an entirely new approach to risks and hazards - one which is preventive, pre-emptive and pro-active, rather than reactive and based on damage limitation after the event. Pervasive technologies which are reasonably suspected of having the potential for substantial, irreversible or uncontainable effects should not be developed until it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that they will not produce such effects.