The Human Dimension of Restoration and Remediation

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2-19-2020


While emphasis is usually placed on the technical and bio-physical aspects of restoration and remediation, the human dimension must not be neglected. Human activity has harmed the natural environment and humans owe a debt to nature to remediate and restore. To the extent possible the natural balance between humans and the natural world must be restored. Not only does remediation and restoration perform a utilitarian function but remediation and restoration perform a restorative human function. Because restoration is a human function, it will of necessity involve values, including human perceptions, beliefs, emotions, knowledge and behavior, culture, politics and economics as well as the scientific and technical. Because human decision making is involved, values and culture will be involved. This talk explores the various human dimensions that permeate restoration and remediation. Failure to consider the human dimension of restoration will doom restoration and remediation projects to failure as well as produce limited restoration projects that do not fulfill the ultimate purpose of restoration. The practice of democratic science can lead to the full consideration of the human dimension of remediation and restoration.

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Dr. Ray teaches classes in ethics, philosophy and political science at Montana Tech. He is vice president of Citizens for Labor and Environmental Justice and a board member of CTEC (Citizens Technical Environmental Committee). This spring Dr. Ray will be presenting a peer reviewed paper entitled “Climate Change and Human Migration as a Threat to International Peace: A Realist Perspective” at the Twelfth International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses to be held at and sponsored by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy. He also presented a peer reviewed paper entitled: “Environmental Justice: Problems and Promise” recently at Oxford University, England.