precautionary approach, definition of

Precautionary Approach

The approach promoted under the Framework Convention of Climate Change to help achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

Note: In essence this is the 'just in case' approach; the trouble with it is it assumes the cost of doing something is essentially 'free' compared to the future cost of not doing something. Rather the opportunity cost of doing something regardless is not clearly taken into account (i.e. could the money being spent now on inefficient energy sources to combat climate change have been better spent on further energy research that could ultimately lead to no real environmental pollution at all?)  Everything has a cost.

Also the precautionary approach 'weakens' the need for more rigorous scientific principal based research; i.e. you just need to show (and not truthfully prove) a possible outcome to give support to the precautionary approach.

Related Tags: climate change, global warming

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