TABLE 1 Evolution of Environmental Regulation

Time Focus

Principal Activity

Focus of Activity

Geographic/ Temporal Scale


Key Competencies

Regulatory Approach

Government/ Institutional Leaders



Waste substances/ Sites

Local/ Immediate

Reduction of immediate human risk

Toxicology, environmental science

Command and control

U.S. environmentalists

Present/ Emphasis on past


Emitted substances; emphasis on end-of-pipe control

Point source/ Immediate

Reduction of immediate human risk

Toxicology, environmental science, environmental engineering

Command and control; mandated end-of-pipe technologies

Developed countries/ Environmentalists

Present/ Looking toward future

Industrial ecology/ Design for environment

Products and services over life-cycle/ Industrial and consumer behavior in actual economy and resulting environmental impacts

Regional and global systems at all time scales

Sustainability, including global climate change; loss of biodiversity; degradation of water, soil, and atmospheric resources; ozone depletion

Physical and biological sciences; engineering (especially chemical engineering) and technology; environmental science; business; law; and economics

Product life-cycle regulation (e.g., product take-back); market incentives for environmentally appropriate behavior (e.g., ecolabels; "energy star," international standards; "green procurement")

European Union, especially Netherlands and Germany; industry, especially electronics

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement