November 1, 2013
By Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom and Paolo Foradori, Former Associate, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, September 2011–2014; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, April–August 2011
How significant is the proposal for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, given the violence and turmoil rocking the region? The short essays in this discussion paper, by experts from across the region, provide a snap shot of the diversity of views on the issue. As a collection, the essays demonstrate the scale and complexity of the challenges associated with establishing a WMD-free zone in the region. The gaps between the positions of key parties are clearly evident; but the reader will also find unexpected commonalities.
September 23, 2013
"Organizing for Arms Control: The National Security Implications of the Loss of an Independent Arms Control Agency"
By Leon Ratz
Fourteen years since the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) was dissolved, Leon Ratz (HKS '13) explores the national security implications of the loss of America's independent arms control agency. Ratz argues that the organizational merger has weakened the federal government's decision-making and analytic capabilities when it comes to addressing critical arms control and non-proliferation challenges.
The author conducts a comparative analysis of fixed and intensity carbon targets, as these might be used in national policy or a multilateral climate agreement. The discussion is relevant to the ongoing UNFCCC negotiations on the 2015 Durban-Platform agreement.
The authors analyze global climate policy as the problem of transforming governance of the atmosphere from an open-access to a global-commons regime. They also review several challenges to effecting this transformation.
The authors, using data from the recent history of international climate policy to test organizational ecology theory, attempt to explain changes in diversity, growth rates, and composition of organizations dealing with global climate change.
By Leonardo Maugeri, Associate, Environment and Natural Resources Program/Geopolitics of Energy Project
A study just released by Belfer Center researcher Leonardo Maugeri finds that the shale oil revolution taking place in the United States could result in the tripling of shale oil output to five million barrels a day by 2017, likely making the U.S. the top oil producer in the world in just a few years. The study by Maugeri, a Roy Family Fellow working with the Belfer Center's Geopolitics of Energy project, looked at whether the surge in shale oil production is just a temporary bubble or an event capable of significantly altering the U.S.—and possibly global—energy outlook.
Climate change is a complex long-run phenomenon. The speed and severity with which it is occurring is difficult to observe, complicating the formation of beliefs for individuals. The authors use Google Insights search intensity data as a proxy for the salience of climate change and examine how search patterns vary with unusual local weather. The responsiveness to weather shocks is greater in states that are more reliant on climate-sensitive industries and that elect more environmentally-favorable congressional delegations. Furthermore, they demonstrate that effects of abnormal weather extend beyond search behavior to observable action on environmental issues.
"A Voting Architecture for the Governance of Free-Driver Externalities, with Application to Geoengineering"
Climate change is a global "free rider" problem because significant abatement of greenhouse gases is an expensive public good requiring international cooperation to apportion compliance among states. But it is also a global "free driver" problem because geoengineering the stratosphere with reflective particles to block incoming solar radiation is so cheap that it could essentially be undertaken unilaterally by one state perceiving itself to be in peril.
"The Next Frontier in United States Unconventional Shale Gas and Tight Oil Extraction: Strategic Reduction of Environmental Impact"
By Meagan Mauter, Former Visiting Scholar, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group (ETIP), 2012–2013; Former Research Fellow, ETIP, 2011–2012, Vanessa R. Palmer, Yiqiao Tang and A. Patrick Behrer
The unconventional fossil fuel extraction industry—in the U.S., primarily shale gas and tight oil—is expected to continue expanding dramatically in coming decades as conventionally recoverable reserves wane. At the global scale, a long-term domestic supply of natural gas is expected to yield environmental benefits over alternative sources of fossil energy. At the local level, however, the environmental impacts of shale gas and tight oil development may be significant. The development of technology, management practices, and regulatory policies that mitigate the associated environmental impacts of shale gas development is quickly becoming the next frontier in U.S. unconventional fossil resource extraction.
By Mansour Salsabili, Associate, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom
Ambiguity in Iran's weapon acquisition dynamics exacerbates mistrust, which is the core reason for the present standoff at the negotiating table. This paper elucidates the Iranian military's capability and intention by delving into the main componential elements of weapon acquisition.