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Unintended Consequences

  • By: Ozzie Zehner
  • In: Green Technology: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: Dustin Mulvaney
  • Subject:Environmental Sciences (general), Environmental Technology, Policy & Management

Intentional human actions cause multiple effects. Some of these effects are planned, and others occur unexpectedly. Unintended consequences are unplanned outcomes that occur due to the implementation of a technology, policy, or other initiative. Social scientists typically categorize them as beneficial, detrimental, or controversial. Unanticipated consequences follow directly or indirectly from human activities but occur at a future time and possibly in a different location. Therefore, they can be difficult to identify or directly link to a triggering activity. As a result, journalists, technologists, and policymakers some times overlook the impacts of unintended consequences. Negative unanticipated consequences can be challenging to evaluate and remedy because they arise within complex ecological interactions and social conditions. Green technologies (e.g., wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels) and initiatives ...

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