Nathan Paxton has a provocative post on The Monkey Cage where he suggests, among other things that the World Health Organization (WHO) is not to blame for the Ebola crisis. Rather, he lays the blame squarely on donor countries.
He rightly notes that the WHO's budget and staff was cut after the financial crisis, but I think he lets WHO off too lightly. With many ideas circulating about the future of the WHO in advance of the upcoming WHO Executive Board meeting beginning January 26th, understanding the various factors that contributed to the failed response to Ebola is all the more critical.
Last fall, I wrote about how the U.S. government was insisting that any climate mitigation commitments agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate negotiations be non-binding political pledges. I argued that was appropriate because the high bar for treaty ratification in the U.S. Senate made legally binding commitments unlikely.
This kind of soft "pledge and review" approach to climate change first emerged at the 2009 Copenhagen negotiations, often derided by observers as an unsuccessful meeting. Quite the contrary, as I argued in a 2010 piece for the Council on Foreign Relations, Copenhagen actually set the stage for main emitters finally to make more credible commitments to take action. This is the tenor of a number of recent articles and interviews with David Victor, Andrew Revkin, Eric Voeten, among others. One thing that all these authors underscore is the importance of domestic politics going forward. Recent experiences in Australia, South Korea, and Brazil, as well as the United States, all demonstrate the fragility of domestic climate policies.
The annual climate negotiations are wrapping up in Lima, Peru tonight or likely tomorrow. Negotiators are working through the night in overtime as they seek to hammer out a blueprint that will serve as the negotiating template for next year. This is the meeting before next year's big meeting in Paris when expectations are high for a new climate agreement that will establish the targets and actions countries are willing to make for the 2020 period and beyond. So, what's going on? What's at stake? What are the key outcomes? Points of dissensus and consensus? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Here is one live negotiation tracker and what I believe is the proposed text that the chair proposed just as I went to bed.
Looks like we are going to have another long night at #COP20-sadly this has become the norm (hope they don't shut down the food)
— Jake Schmidt - NRDC (@jschmidtnrdc) December 13, 2014
Today is World AIDS Day, an annual day of remembrance and reflection on the global AIDS crisis held since 1988. Overshadowed this year by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we should keep in mind that this problem is not over even if it has receded from news coverage in recent years. Here are 5 facts and 4 news items about the state of the current epidemic to keep in mind, and 3 recent films - How to Survive a Plague, Fire in the Blood, and the Dallas Buyers Club, which help bring some context to understanding grassroots mobilization in the U.S. and internationally to combat the AIDS epidemic.
The Ebola crisis isn't over. In the absence of new infections in the United States, Americans have moved on to other preoccupations (Ferguson anyone?), but the problem hasn't gone away even if Google searches have plunged. There has been some positive news out of Liberia with a decline in the rate of new infections from 80 new cases per day to about 20 to 30, but the news from Sierra Leone suggests the problem is far from under control, with the end of the rainy season potentially making transit easier and facilitating the spread of the virus further. More troubling still is the new hot spot of infections coming out of Mali, eight confirmed cases in all, 7 of them related to a single Guinean imam who died in diagnosed in Mali and whose body was not handled properly as one would a deceased Ebola patient.
Here was my Tweet the other day. Today we have an answer.
Tweeps, best case scenario on climate coming out of APEC?
— Josh Busby (@busbyj2) November 7, 2014
If you went to bed early on Tuesday night, you might have missed some very big news out of Obama-Xi meeting in Beijing, other than announcements on trade and regional security. I'm talking about the potentially momentous bilateral agreement on climate change where China announced for the first time a date -- "around 2030" -- for peak greenhouse gas emissions and the United States announced a 2025 emissions reduction target. This is big news, potentially changing the entire international dynamic going in to next year's climate negotiations in Paris (and interim negotiations in Lima later this year).
With the two countries responsible for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions making a significant joint push, the pressure will be on other big emitting countries, namely India, Canada, Japan, and Australia to fall in to line and be constructive players themselves. It will be interesting to see how this changes the domestic context for the United States where President Obama may use existing regulatory authority and executive action to press the policy agenda, but it's unclear if that will be enough to meet the ambitious 2025 goals. China for its part may be on track anyway to meet that 2030 peak target, but the real question is, as I've written before (here and here), how far it can go to move away from coal. Read on for full linkages to press coverage, Kerry's op-ed in the New York Times, reflections from Brad Plumer, and the White House announcement that includes more detail on expanded technical cooperation.
In the lead up to the APEC summit about to start this week in Beijing, China’s leadership undertook a series of emergency measures to avoid the continued embarrassment of a string of poor air quality days that had bedeviled the country over the previous year. The government reinstated the familiar practice of restricting car travel to certain days of the week based on license plate numbers. Government workers and schools were closed for an “APEC holiday” to reduce traffic. Factories have been ordered to shut down during the summit. Interestingly, those plans seemingly backfired as companies anticipated the later forced work stoppages by working overtime in advance of the later down hours they would be offline during the summit.
Thus, in October when Beijing often enjoys clear skies and cool weather, the city was cloaked in a devastating haze. Some of the world’s best soccer players from Argentina and Brazil were in town for a friendly, only to be confined to their hotel rooms for most of their visit, save for training sessions that left them gasping for breath. Later in the month, photos (see above) captured the spectacle of the Beijing Marathon being run amidst this foul air, with many participants clad in elaborate gas masks as they ran the course. Of course, while foreign visitors are exposed to this pollution during short stays, this is the air quality the people of China experience all the time. A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concluded that seventy percent of the country’s population live in areas that exceed air pollution levels recommended by the World Health Organization. That pollution was estimated to be responsible for 670,000 premature deaths in 2012 from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and pulmonary disease.
At this point, China's bad air isn't news (see my earlier posts here and here). However, China's unfolding "war on pollution" is news and may ultimately improve both air quality and address climate change.
What kinds of advice do you give junior colleagues early on as they think about what it takes to get tenure and promotion? With some new colleagues, I've been giving that some thought based on my own pretty recent experience. Obviously, some guidance is institution-specific, and I have a fairly idiosyncratic circumstance in a policy school. Nonetheless, I think there may be some generalizable lessons, with the focus here on research.
As I mentioned in my previous post on climate and security, I went to Colorado College last week for two talks that Andrew Price-Smith organized. The second talk covered the theme of global climate governance (slides here). Last month, both Jennifer Hadden and I wrote about the People’s Climate March and the renewed optimism about possible international progress on climate change that accompanied the UN leaders meeting in New York.
I wanted to expand on the theme, not simply because of the talk in Colorado. The strategy for next year’s climate negotiations has been in the news of late. Just last week, U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern laid out in a talk at Yale the potential U.S. strategy for next year’s 2015 Paris climate negotiations, emphasizing that only parts of the agreement should be legally binding. Elsewhere, UCSD’s David Victor argued that the 2 degrees Celsius target that negotiators previously embraced as the ceiling for warming is unrealistic and unworkable. Both are provocative and potentially helpful ideas. Here’s why.
I made two presentations yesterday at Colorado College where I first talked about climate and security and then spoke about global climate governance. I'll post about each issue in turn. With the Pentagon this week releasing its new strategy on climate change adaptation, this is a timely moment to revisit how far we have come with climate and security (slides from my presentation here).
In the mid-2000s, climate activists began casting about for new ways to frame climate change as a way to broaden their coalition. One way was to frame climate change as a security threat. Tom Friedman and others were some of the early proponents of this framing, linking fossil fuel dependence on unsavory regimes and also highlighting the connections between climate change and security outcomes at home and abroad.
This is a guest post from Ariel I. Ahram (@ariel_ahram), an assistant professor of government and international affairs in Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in Alexandria, Va. He is the author of Proxy Warriors: The Rise and Fall of State Sponsored Militias (Stanford University Press, 2011).
Laments over the state of Israel have become increasingly common. Especially in the midst of this summer’s war in Gaza, Israel’s erstwhile sympathizers and supporters have come forward questioning the Jewish state’s viability and morality. Israel, they claim, has lost the pretense of liberal democracy and is careening toward a kind of Jewish ethnocracy, an apartheid state ruling over millions of Arabs between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Though this discourse often takes a tone of Jewish ritual atonement, it has ramifications far beyond the Diaspora-Israel relations. A common commitment to liberal democratic principles is a key component of the cultural linkages underpinning the special U.S.-Israel relationship. Israel’s perceived rightward seems to have dire implications for the possibilities of peace as well. Many believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has effectively ruled out the possibility of relinquishing territory to a Palestinian state. But the problem is deeper that leadership. Ugly displays of racism, such as when right-wing Jewish thugs abducted and murdered a sixteen year old Palestinian boy in Jerusalem this July, seem to indict Israeli society as a whole. Liberal Zionism is, in a word, dead.
Well, this has been a very difficult period to watch as we see the unfolding tragedy of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We have seen dire warnings for the region, with a dramatic uptick in reported infections and some heartbreaking (and problematic) images from hospitals. There have been credible projections that left unchecked Ebola could have as many 1.4 million infections by early 2015 in Liberia and Sierra Leone, which would amount to more than 10% of the population of those two countries. With President Obama's announcement of $500 million (perhaps up to $1 billion) and the deployment of 3000 soldiers, help may be arriving and more on the way, but it is unclear if this belated scale-up of attention and resources will arrive to stave off the worst in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Fortunately, the spread in neighboring Nigeria seems very well-contained.
We have also seen the first diagnosed Ebola patient outside the continent, in my own state of Texas, by a Liberian who travelled here and became symptomatic upon arrival. The situation appears to be under control but questions remain, as the patient was initially sent home after his first visit to the hospital. Here are some news and comments from around the web. I had some exchanges with WSJ and NYT reporters about airport fever monitoring as well as the ethics of the images the NYT had of suffering children on their pages. Read on for more.
This is a guest post from Leslie Johns, an Assistant Professor of political science at UCLA.
The Public Choice Society---an academic organization of scholars who study the interaction of politics and economics---recently announced that it has created a new award for scholarly research: the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Prize. The announcement of this prize is provoking an intense reaction because of its name: “The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Prize”?
Elinor Ostrom was well-known to political scientists, policy analysts, and economists. As a graduate student during the 1960s in the Political Science Department at UCLA, where I work, Ostrom overcame tremendous odds and blatant discrimination to earn her Ph.D. Her reward for this work was being offered a job as a secretary. After decades of climbing the academic ladder and publishing path-breaking scholarship on the regulation of shared resources, it seemed as though Ostrom had finally been recognized for her courage and intellect. Despite the fact that she never received a degree from or a faculty appointment in an economics department, Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009. She was the first, and remains the only, woman to win this prize.
Steve and I had a good Twitter exchange with Tom Ricks about whether or not political science is useless to policymakers, particularly quantitative work and
So, I got some bad teaching evaluations from last semester (bad by my standards at least. Hell, by anybody's standards). It's kind of thrown me for a loop because I pride myself on being a good scholar, a good teacher, and a good husband/father. But, sometimes it may not be possible to pull off all three of these things well simultaneously, especially if you've got an ambitious research agenda, equally challenging and risky courses, and a toddler at home. That wasn't my immediate reaction when I read the students comments, but I've kind of gravitated to that conclusion, if only to stave off admissions of being a lousy professor or thinking ill of my students.
I've written before about Anne-Marie Slaughter's powerful essay and the problematic label of "having it all." Coming back to the idea here doesn't make it any easier to think about what to do about it.
This is a guest post from Jennifer Hadden, who is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland. She guest blogged on the Duck before on global climate negotiations. She also has a forthcoming book from Cambridge on climate advocacy called Networks in Contention: The Divisive Politics of Climate Change.
The largest climate change demonstration in history took place on Sunday. According to organizers of the People’s Climate March, an estimated 400,000 people participated in the protest in New York. For comparison, the size of the march was comparable to the scale of the February 15 anti-war demonstration in 2003. The demonstration at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009 mobilized about 100,000 people, but US demonstrations at that time generally mobilized fewer than 1,000 people. The People’s Climate March was also a transnational event: during the march a giant video screen outside Times Square projected images of demonstrations all over the world, totaling 2,808 events in 166 countries.
How does a protest on this scale come about? And what does it mean for the future of the global climate movement?
On Tuesday September 23, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is hosting a meeting of world leaders to discuss the issue of climate change. The aim is to build pressure and support for action in advance of the climate negotiations to be held in Paris in late 2015. In advance of Tuesday's climate meeting, activists are holding on Sunday, September 21st the People's Climate March, what aims to be the largest march of its kind with a core march in New York and satellite marches in major cities around the world. The hashtag #Climate2014 is capturing much of the news about the upcoming meeting and marches.
While the news in other spheres has been rather dire of late, activists I've talked to are optimistic that 2014 and 2015 may be the most propitious time for successful climate action in years. With the worst of the financial crisis behind us, there may be scope for real commitments and concerted action. There are dark clouds of course: emissions reached an unprecedented high last year and some key leaders, notably those from China and India, are skipping Tuesday's meeting, but there is also hope. In this set of links, I try to provide some context for the renewed sense of anticipation for this meeting and 2015.
Today, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) released their biennial report of U.S. public attitudes on foreign policy, drawn from a large national sample carried out in May of this year. This year, my co-author Jon Monten and I participated in the team that designed the survey and analyzed the findings. [As an aside, we also have been working with CCGA to revive the leader surveys that CCGA administered for many years. Jordan Tama, Craig Kafura, Jon and I presented our first set of findings from the leader surveys at #APSAOnFire. We hope to release a report this fall with the data to follow.]
So, what are the most surprising findings? Well, per usual, Dan Drezner beat me to the punch and picked up on several them. He and I are in agreement about a number of them, particularly the dip in support for international engagement among Republicans, the high perception that the war in Afghanistan was not worth it, and robust support for free trade and globalization. We also include a survey experiment to see if public attitudes could, as in past surveys, be moved to support U.S. use of force if supported by multilateral endorsers, either a U.N. Security Council authorized mission or a coalition of allies. Interestingly, across a range of possible scenarios, that did not seem to matter.
Well, the main APSA hotel at the Marriott last night caught fire last night in what might be an act of arson, but we really