Paradigms Lost

Learning from Environmental Mistakes, Mishaps and Misdeeds


  • Daniel Vallero, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Engineers and scientists have made great progress in advancing the understanding of the principles underlying environmental quality and public health. However, all too often, society and the scientific community do not realize the connections between environmental occurrences. In their haste to remedy a situation, they overlook lessons that could be learned to prevent future disasters. Paying attention to the past instructs us about the future. Paradigms Lost combines the historical case perspective with credible and sound scientific explanations of key environmental disasters and problems. The author sorts through natural disasters and human mistakes from Love Canal, New York to Bhopal, India to provide larger lessons that can be applied by scientists, engineers and public safety officials. The analysis of these events includes viable alternatives for future generations.
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Environmental Engineers, Civil Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Chemists, Plant Managers, Public Safety Administrators, Lawyers, Surveyors, Petroleum Engineers, Waste Managers, Military Personnel, Federal, State, and Local Environmental, Emergency Response, and Public Health Agencies


Book information

  • Published: November 2005
  • ISBN: 978-0-7506-7888-9


“Vallero’s engaging, accessible prose mostly avoids the stiffness that often pervades books of this type, making it easier to digest the technical context and analysis.” — Civil Engineering, March 2006

Table of Contents

Part I: New Science and New ParadigmsLessons Learned: A Case Approach to Environmental ProblemsPollution RevisitedPart II: Key Environmental Events in MediaSomething in the AirWatershed EventsLandmark CasesBy Way of IntroductionEnvironmental Swords and DamoclesPart III: Other ParadigmsDropping Acid and Heavy Metal ReactionsSpaceship EarthMyths and Ideology: Perception versus RealityJust Environmental Decisions, PleasePart IV: What is Next?Bottom Lines and Top of the Head GuessesAppendix 1: EquilibriumAppendix 2: Government Reorganizations Creating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationAppendix 3: Reliability in Environmental Decision MakingAppendix 4: Principles of Environmental PersistenceAppendix 5: Cancer Slope FactorsAppendix 6: Equations for Calculating Lifetime Average Daily Exposure (LADD) for Various Routs of ExposureAppendix 7: Characterizing Environmental RiskAppendix 8: Risk-Based Contaminant Cleanup ExampleAppendix 9: Shannon Weiner Index ExampleAppendix 10: Useful Conversions in Atmospheric ChemistryINDEX