By Rob White
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Extra resources for Environmental Harm: An Eco-justice Perspective
The objective interpretation of risk refers to the relative frequency with which a particular outcome occurs, given a class of events of relatively similar conditions. The subjective interpretation of risk refers to a degree of belief or confidence about the likelihood of a certain event occurring. (Lin, 2006: 962) With most phenomena, however, there is limited knowledge and thus a degree of uncertainty – and hence we operate in terms of subjective risk (as defined above). As Lin (2006: 968) points out:‘risk refers to the probability that harm will occur.
For present purposes it is notable that groups are also demarcated by particular notions of justice, including those relating to environmental justice (for example, specific human communities), ecological justice (for example, protection and conservation of particular ecosystems) and species justice (for example, animal rights and welfare). As will be seen, what is considered ‘bad’ or ‘good’ in regards to defining environmental harm is generally reflective 38 Justice-based approaches to environmental harm of NGO engagement around particular issues.
What counts as ‘science’, what counts as ‘evidence’, who counts as being a ‘scientific expert’ and what counts as ‘sensible’ public policy are all influenced by factors such as economic situation, the scientific tradition within a particular national context, the scientific standards used in relation to specific issues, and the style and mode of government (White 2008a). This implies differences in perspective and a certain contentiousness of knowledge about the nature of the harm or crime. Assessment of victimisation usually involves responding to a series of interrelated questions (see Heckenberg and White, 2013): • how are ‘harm’ and ‘risk’ defined, and by whom?
Environmental Harm: An Eco-justice Perspective by Rob White