Choice, Progress & Innovation
We understand that the world cannot be “risk-free,” but we know that there are safer alternatives to many toxic technologies and products in use today. Industrial progress has brought us many advantages, but we can go further and create progress toward a healthier environment.
We want to create better choices. The use of the preventative approach that we propose will spark a search for better materials, safer products, and alternative processes, and will thus foster innovation. The approach is aimed at preventing harm, not progress. It should be used proactively to help reach social goals and make progress toward a healthier tomorrow. If we work together to set our goals, it is possible to say “no” to the things that don’t fit those goals, and “yes” to the things that do.
Science is central to this approach—it will require the use of more rigorous, interdisciplinary science to examine complex living systems and establish an “early warning system” to identify potential hazards. Scientists need to be more explicit about what is known and not known and develop advanced methods to analyze alternatives.
We all have the responsibility to look at what we do and strive to make sure that our actions do not harm others or our shared environment. Businesses and consumers must seek out the safest alternatives to meet human needs.
A democracy is based on open and informed decision-making processes that put public goals and values above private gain. We call for government to establish democratic decision-making processes to choose the safest alternatives. These processes must be insulated from special interest interference. In an uncertain world, politicians, corporations and scientists should not be making all the decisions about what risks are acceptable to society, a community or a child.
Precautionary Action & Foresight
The approach advocated by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is called the “Precautionary Principle” by many advocates. It is being implemented in other countries and cited in international environmental treaties. Rather than asking how much damage to a baby is acceptable, or how much pollution can be assimilated by an ocean or a forest, a precautionary approach asks how much can be avoided. It’s preventive medicine for the environment—and by extension, for humans. It tells us to prevent pollution and poisoning, rather than trying to clean up the mess afterward.
Economic Safeguards for Workers and Communities
A transition to safer technologies, materials and processes will have many potential benefits to workers and the Massachusetts economy as a whole… Preventive environmental, health and safety policies in government should be supported by a policy of Just Transition, which is about engaging workers to plan ahead for changes toward cleaner and safer technologies and processes. Policies to protect the environment and health can and should avoid eliminating jobs wherever possible. Just Transition is first and foremost about improving and maintaining good jobs at sustainable and healthy workplaces.