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A Systematic Analysis of Options

It has not generally been customary for individuals and organizations that influence, or are influence by, damage due to harmful transfers of energy to analyze systemically their options for loss reduction, the mix of strategies and tactics that might employ, and their cost. Yet, it is entirely feasible and not especially difficult to do so, although specific supporting data are still often lacking. In fact, unless such systematic analysis is done routinely and well, it is generally impossible to maximize the pay-offs both of loss-reduction planning and of resource allocations.

Such analysis is also needed to consider properly the problems inherent in the use of given strategies in specific situations. Different strategies to accomplish the same end commonly have different requirements; in kinds and numbers of people, in material resources, in capital investments, and in public and professional education, among others. In the case of some damage-reduction problems, particular strategies may require political and legislative action more than others. And, where the boundaries, correspondingly international action is commonly essential.

The types of concepts outlines in this note are basic to dealing with important aspects of the quality of life, and all of the professionals concerned with environment and with the public health need to understand and apply the principles involved–and not in the haphazard, spotty, and poorly conceptualized fashion now virtually universal. It is the purpose of this brief note to introduce the pathway along which this can be achieved.

William Haddon, Jr. is the former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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