lecture 1 - Environmental Politics US Comparative and...

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Environmental Politics: US, Comparative and International Professor Kelemen Spring 2009 MTh 10:55-12:15 PM Location: CDL -109
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Collective Action Problems Puzzle: Why do large groups who share a common interest often fail to act collectively to pursue their interests? We would all be better off (we as individuals and ‘we’ as nations) if we could limit GHG emissions and prevent climate change …and yet we have great difficulty agreeing to do so. Why?
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Collective Action Problems Diffuse Interests vs. Concentrated Interests Large, diffuse groups face ‘collective action problems’ Individual thinks their contribution won’t make a difference The Free Rider Problem (why should I help if I can benefit even if I don’t help) Prisoner’s Dilemma: why should I pay costs of helping solve problem, if others may simply be free riders? Outcome = individually rational behavior leads to collectively suboptimal (irrational) outcomes Examples: Lots of examples of this in environmental policy
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June 8, 2005 Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming By A. REVKIN A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents. In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports. The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust. Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues. Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training. The documents were obtained by The New York Times from the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistle-blowers.
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The project is representing Rick S. Piltz, who resigned in March as a senior associate in the office that coordinates government climate research. That office, now called the Climate Change Science Program, issued the documents that Mr. Cooney edited…. In one instance in an October 2002 draft of a regularly
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lecture 1 - Environmental Politics US Comparative and...

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