Managing Environmental Risks
A world with acute health problems, economic depression, war or the threat of nuclear annihilation, and high injury rates is not one where environmental issues are likely to be the focus of attention. Only when short-term health problems are under control, income is at a high level, and other immediate threats such as war are viewed as being under control is the environment likely to emerge as a major social concern (Lave, 1980a). The late 1960s was such a time in the United States and in much of the developed world. Spectacular progress had been made in lowering the infant mortality rate and vanquishing infectious disease. Trauma was viewed as basically being under control, due in part to the creation of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The perceived threat of nuclear war had receded far from the preoccupation of the early 1950s. Per capita income had increased steadily in the post-war period and fears of a deep depression had evaporated with the steady performance of the economy over two and a half decades. In short, immediate, high-level concerns had been satisfied and other issues might emerge to take their place.