Let Us Now Praise Common Sense: Agroecology


Will Rogers - common sense
Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

The precautionary principle is a simple, common-sense ethical guideline that is a core part of ecology and agroecology. It’s so fundamental to sustainability, and so uncommon in our government today, that it’s worth reaffirming.

The precautionary principle holds that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment that sustains our life, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those promoting the product or the action.

In other words, you must establish that your action or product will not cause harm before you put it out into the world and actually cause harm. The precautionary principle is a statutory requirement in the law of the European Union, but has no legal standing in the USA. The USA has, in fact, lobbied actively—without citizen knowledge or approval—to pressure European governments to slack off the precautionary principle in certain cases.

That’s dumb. Damn dumb. It’s placing monetary profit over common sense, and good health. 

This self-destructive tendency to kiss off common sense came to the forefront this summer as the so-called Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) planned to roll back the regulation of methane emissions. While carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas, methane is a close second. It lingers in the atmosphere for less time, but packs a wallop while it lasts.

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