The basics

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  • Environmental issues are particularly difficult to solve because often the solutions require sacrifice
  • It is difficult to convince a population of people to trade in quality of life and convenience for the greater environmental good
  • This is evident with North America’s obsession with big cars, SUVs and Trucks
  • When considering an environmental issue the species, ecosystem or population that experiences the most negative effects are referred to as “the casualties”
  • The currently accepted stance or thought on an environmental issue is called “the paradigm”
  • In order to address an environmental issue scientists, politicians and policy makers use a combination of facts and inference
  • Facts are information that are gathered through scientific studies and that have been tested using the scientific method
  • Inferences are conclusions that are drawn based on a combination of observations and facts.
  • The danger occurs when too much weight is placed on inferences and not enough on facts
  • From the article “Saving the berries for pickers and bears” identify:
    a) the casualty/casualties
    b) the paradigm
    c) 3 facts
    d) 3 inferences
  • To avoid making a biased or one sided decision, policy makers, decision makers and politicians try to be objective when making environmental decisions
  • Objectivity requires listening to all perspectives and not giving preference to one perspective over another, until a specific course of action is decided


  • To avoid being biased, it is important to be able to identify and research the different view points on an environmental issue
  • No issue is ever black and white meaning there is never a right or a wrong answer when looking at an environmental issue
  • It is important to listen to all perspectives in order to make an informed decision on an environmental issue
  • This is why it takes so long for any decision to be made when we’re working on an environmental issue

Perspectives to Consider

  • When researching your environmental issues it is important to consider the following 5 point of views.  Each point of view will have one or more argument or perspective to consider
  • The Environmental Point of View
    • This perspective is based on what is best for the environment in question
    • This may be as big as an ocean, or as small as a back yard
    • The Economic Point of View
      • This perspective is based entirely on money.  What course of action will either make the most or save the most money

The Political Point of View

  • This perspective is based on two key ideas:
  • what will make the biggest positive/negative impact on the voters and
  • what is a popular choice
  • The “Average Joe” Point of View
    • This perspective is often the most complex because it is the individual perspective.  This perspective is often based on what is best for a single person or a small group of people, not necessarily a large population.  There can be many Average Joe perspectives for any environmental issue

The Community Point of View

  • This perspective is based on what is best for a large group of people.
  • This could be an aboriginal perspective or a minority perspective.
  • This could also be a special interest group
  • Read the David Suzuki article called “Tiny Township victory sets a big example” and identify one argument for each of the 5 points of view

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