Prevention and precaution may avoid disaster
Disruption of Samarco dams in Mariana, Minas Gerais recently occurred that has killed dozens of people and caused the toxic sludge would cause irreparable damage to the flora and fauna reaching Doce River throughout its course to the sea crossing protected areas of Atlantic Rainforest, in addition to causing a catastrophic immediate effect on the public water supply in several cities in the course of the Doce River demonstrates the urgent need for there are plans for prevention, precaution and risk management, as well as intensification of surveillance.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Prevention and precaution may avoid disaster
PREVENTION AND PRECAUTION MAY AVOID DISASTER
Fernando Alcoforado *
Disruption of Samarco dams in Mariana, Minas Gerais recently occurred that has killed
dozens of people and caused the toxic sludge would cause irreparable damage to the
flora and fauna reaching Doce River throughout its course to the sea crossing protected
areas of Atlantic Rainforest, in addition to causing a catastrophic immediate effect on
the public water supply in several cities in the course of the Doce River demonstrates
the urgent need for there are plans for prevention, precaution and risk management, as
well as intensification of surveillance.
In 2005, 168 countries signed the Hyogo Framework of Action which is the most
important tool for reducing disaster risk adopted by countries members at the United
Nations. The goal is to increase the resilience of nations and communities facing
disasters, aimed at substantial reduction in disaster losses of human lives, social,
economic and environmental assets. The Brazilian government was a signatory of the
Hyogo Framework for Action. Nevertheless, Brazil's government has been negligent in
preventing accidents. This explains why there was the disruption of Samarco dams. In
addition to the Brazilian government will not be prepared to deal with natural disasters,
Brazilian laws does not have also an appropriate response on the subject of
To cope with the risks of economic activity is essential to adopt measures for prevention
or precaution to prevent the occurrence of catastrophic events. The Preliminary
Environmental Impact Assessment is an important tool for the development of civil
defense plans considering that serves to assess, predict and prevent further damage to
the environment when carrying out works that modify the environment. Undoubtedly is
a principle that is connected to the idea of prevention, aiming to measure the feasibility
of conducting or not a work. It should be noted that the preventive or precautionary
measures should support the risk management policies and, above all, be present in the
proposals and actions of Civil Defense. Disaster prevention is still a bottleneck in
Brazil. Today only 6% of municipalities have civil defense plan.
Prevention and precaution are two sides of prudence that arise in situations where there
is the possibility of damage. The principles of prevention and precaution should guide
all environmental protection policy. According to Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Professor of
Social and Political Philosophy at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, "the distinction
between potential and proven risk founded parallel distinction between precaution and
prevention. Precaution is on potential risks and prevention is on proven risks" [DUPUY,
Jean-Pierre O tempo das catástrofes (Time of catastrophes). São Paulo: Realizações
Editora, 2011). The potential risk is a dangerous event that may or may not occur which
cannot be attributed probability. The proven risks can be assigned to events with their
probability of occurrence.
The principle of prevention is applicable to environmental impacts already known and
which can be safely establish a set of causal connections which is sufficient for the
identification of the most likely future impacts; namely that already has a history of
information about them. The principle of prevention is intended, in the narrow sense to
avoid immediate, imminent and concrete dangers, according to an immediate logic, as
demand in the broad sense, deviate from possible future risks, even if not yet fully
determinable, according to a prospective logic, of anticipation of future events. Where it
is certain of the environmental damage, this must be prevented, as recommended by the
principle of prevention.
In case of doubt or uncertainty, it must act also preventing based on the precautionary
principle. In this process, it must measure to what extent it is necessary to avoid certain
activity. Its universe is uncertain, requiring particular actions, risk assessment, with
possible actions to reduce them, based on the comparison of different possibilities to
choose one of lesser risk. The decision to avoid increasing the Earth's average
temperature to 2 °C being debated at COP 21 in Paris it is a precaution to avoid the
catastrophic consequences of global warming.
Attention should be paid, therefore, to the distinction between risk of future nature, on
which sits the precautionary principle and immediate danger associated with the logic of
prevention. Prevention means act to anticipate and precaution, in turn, is equivalent to
early admission to a care. Economic calculation should serve as a basis for decisions
related to the prevention and precaution. In decision-making on economic alternatives to
be adopted, a factor that greatly complicates the solution of a problem is uncertainty.
Another complicating factor is the lack of information.
It is worth noting that the decision making is a process of analysis and choice between
several available alternatives, of the course of action to be followed. The decision-
making process, according to Herbert Simon, consists of six steps: 1) Perception of the
situation; 2) Analysis and definition of the problem; 3) Definition of objectives; 4)
Looking for alternative solutions; 5) Evaluation and comparison of these alternatives; 6)
Choose of the most suitable alternative [See the article Processo Decisório – Herbert
Simon (Decision Making -. Herbert Simon) available on the website
In deciding on the choice of the most suitable alternative, the Maximin and Minimax
criteria can be adopted. The Maximin criterion is based on a pessimistic view of the
problem. The alternative to be chosen will be the one that is the best among the worst
option of all alternatives considered. Applied to the economic context, it's needed to
determine the minimum income for each alternative and then choose the alternative with
the higher minimum profit. If the decision is made taking into account the costs (rather
than profit), it needs to minimize the maximum cost.
Can adopt also the Maximax and Minimin criteria. The Maximax criterion is based on
an optimistic view of the problem. It is supposed to take place the best possible event.
The alternative will be chosen as the one that is the best among the best options of all
alternatives. Applied to the economic context must determine the maximum profit for
each alternative and then choose the alternative with the greatest maximum profit. If the
decision is made taking into account the costs, it´s needed to minimize the minimal cost.
Then used the similar criteria to Maximax criterion, which is the Minimin criteria.
Finally, we can use the criterion of Hurwicz, intermediate between the most pessimistic
(Maximin) and the most optimistic (Maximax).
Fernando Alcoforado, member of the Bahia Academy of Education, engineer and doctor of Territorial
Planning and Regional Development from the University of Barcelona, a university professor and
consultant in strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems, is
the author of Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova
(Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São
Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado.
Universidade de Barcelona, http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e
Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX
e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of
the Economic and Social Development-The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Muller
Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe
Planetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora, Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e
combate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011),
Os Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012) and
Energia no Mundo e no Brasil- Energia e Mudança Climática Catastrófica no Século XXI (Editora CRV,