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As of this writing, the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) has wrapped up another successful annual conference in Portland, Oregon, and the June conference issue of Environmental Practice has arrived in subscribers' mailboxes. The editorial office of ENP employs a coeditor approach that alternates lead editorship annually between a natural scientist (James Montgomery) and a social scientist (Kelly Tzoumis), both of whom have practitioner experiences in environmental science and policy in the private and public sectors. The lead editor focuses on development of thematic topics, whereas the coeditor engages in strategic planning, including outreach to authors, for his/her lead year. This model is vital to maintaining the three “ships” that are vital to sustaining NAEP: membership, authorship, and readership. In addition, this model of shared leadership has been quite effective in bringing in new perspectives and topics on environmental issues to achieve greater interdisciplinarity, as well as maintaining the mission of NAEP by providing quality manuscripts that balance interests of both the practitioners and the scholars in the environmental profession. The daily operations of the journal are handled by our very capable managing editor, Dan Carroll. Dan has developed an efficient peer-review process and continues to reach out to potential reviewers. We have an active editorial advisory board (EAB) of 15 members who represent a mixture of scholars and practitioners from across the United States. EAB members have all reviewed or written manuscripts for the journal. We hope to expand the EAB to include more international representation.
Trace metals were determined in the soil and water of four lagoons, two estuaries, and four heavy-traffic roads in Greater Accra along the Atlantic coast of Ghana. The results showed that water samples from all of the water bodies studied were polluted with mercury (Hg) and less polluted with arsenic (As), nickel (Ni), and cadmium (Cd). The pollution status of water samples was confirmed by contamination degree (CD) analysis, which yielded values of >1 of Hg and <1 of As, Ni, and Cd. Evaluation of the data from the soil sample was enhanced by the application of pollution quantification tools—the pollution load index (PLI) and the index of geoaccumulation (IGEO)—which showed that the mangrove swamp soil studied is progressively degrading with Hg, As, Ni, and Cd. It was also revealed that vehicular emissions were a potential source of lead (Pb), Ni, and manganese (Mn) in the roadside soils monitored. From the results of this study, it is clear that the mangroves are gradually degrading and that measures should established to control release of these metals into the environment.
A classic debate in environmental ethics addresses the issue of whether the environment has intrinsic value. Proponents of an anthropocentric account contend that the environment is valuable only insofar as it is useful to human beings, where usefulness can be construed in either narrow or broad terms. Conversely, nonanthropocentrists claim that, in addition to instrumental value, the environment is intrinsically valuable. This debate has important practical implications for the way people conduct themselves concerning the environment. Nevertheless, it has been dismissed by some in the philosophical community as well as beyond. We argue that this debate is important and ought to be taken up by environmental professionals. The aforementioned different views are already reflected in environmental practice, including in the Society of American Foresters Code of Ethics. We argue that useful lessons can be learned from both areas of overlap between anthropocentrists and nonanthropocentrists, as well as from areas of disagreement. We will make our case, in part, by looking at the evolution of ethical responsibility in the engineering profession. Our broader claim is that philosophical discussions can and should be a part of professional practice.
Amtrak, which is the national provider of intercity rail transportation, moved over 30 million passengers in fiscal year 2011. Amtrak signed a consent decree with the United States EPA for Clean Water Act violations in New England in 2001. From a required Environmental Management System implemented under the consent decree, Amtrak developed a fledgling sustainability program. The program has moved carefully over the past 11 years, cautiously handling resources available for environmental management. Programs have been implemented to calculate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, trial alternative fuels, and support customers wishing to reduce their impact on the environment. Ethical concerns have been addressed in the areas of environmental messaging and additionality of new program areas. These concerns have led to working guidelines focused on addressing ethical matters.
More than half a century ago, Dr. M. King Hubbert's theory of peak oil predicted that US oil production would peak around 1970. His prediction was dead on. Today, many peak oil theorists predict that world oil production is very close to peaking, after which we will witness a steady decline in global oil production. The global socioeconomic implications are chilling. But there may be much more to this story than has been openly and publicly vented.
Environmental professionals are often asked to serve on boards of nonprofit groups that pursue programs dealing with professional, conservation, or environmental matters. They are sought for their technical expertise and experience. In such a role, a professional is likely to encounter situations that could give rise to conflicts of interest. His or her previous experience in technical roles, however, may not have provided much practice in understanding how to deal with conflicts of interest or other issues of concern to nonprofit boards. Further, awareness of potential conflicts of interest is critical in many professional roles. Getting serious about avoiding and managing conflicts of interest begins by understanding what a conflict of interest is, what persons in particular are more likely to be in a position to produce conflicts of interest for your organization, and what might be the fallout from a real or perceived conflict of interest. This article is adapted from a publication providing advice to boards of directors of land conservation organizations. But it offers general advice applicable to board members of any nonprofit group. We illustrate the importance of this topic by reviewing three case examples.
Most discussions of ethics in public participation emphasize the agency's obligation to engage in more public participation. Yet, ethically speaking, sometimes less is better. If the increased public participation lacks forethought and proper support, it may do serious harm. We analyze three types of ethical breach that may occur when an agency engages in robust public participation: uncomplicated lying or manipulation, failing to provide a fair exchange, and asking for wisdom but failing to support it. As we discuss the need for clear ethics, we look at three constituencies that might be impacted: public participants, the general public, and the resource. Because convening agencies tend to have disproportionate power in a public participation process, we argue that convening agencies (and, through them, their consultants) ought to develop ethical standards addressing the three categories with respect to all three constituencies. Finally, based on our analysis, we suggest that sometimes less public participation is better.
My first exposure to ethics as a consideration in professional conduct came more than 25 years ago. At the time, I was a recent graduate in a fairly new job and had only recently joined the local chapter of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP). I was educated, but green. What I had in my favor was a good upbringing, a stint as a naval officer, and a copy of the NAEP Code of Ethics.
As a member of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP)—and interested in the subject of ethics—of course you realize that economic factors figure into every project, one way or another.
The field of environmental consulting has been around for decades, but in North America it began in earnest in the 1970s, partly in response to passage of the National Environmental Policy Act and similar federal and state regulations, and experienced rapid growth through the next several decades. Currently there are hundreds, if not thousands, of environmental consulting companies that range from one-person firms to large companies with thousands of employees.