We’ve eaten Alar with our apples and PCBs with our fish, drunk arsenic with our water, breathed asbestos in our schools. Someone sounded the alarm, someone else said we were safe, and both had science on their side. Whom are we to trust? How are we to know? Amid this chaos of questions and conflicting information, Aaron Wildavsky arrives with just what the beleaguered citizen needs: a clear, fair, and factual look at how the rival claims of environmentalists and industrialists work, what they mean, and where to start sorting them out.
Working with his students at a risk analysis center, Wildavsky examined all the evidence behind the charges and countercharges in several controversial cases involving environmental health and public safety. Here he lays out these cases in terms an average citizen can understand, weighs the merits of the claims of various parties, and offers reasoned judgments on the government’s response. From Love Canal to Times Beach, from DDT to Agent Orange, acid rain, and global warming, from saccharin to asbestos, nuclear waste, and radon, Wildavsky shows how we can achieve an informed understanding of the contentious environmental issues that confront us daily. The book supports the conclusion Wildavsky reached himself, both as a citizen committed to the welfare of the earth and its inhabitants, and as a social scientist concerned with how public policy is made: though it is bad to be harmed, it is worse to be harmed in the name of health.