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Policy Shock examines how policy-makers in industrialized democracies respond to major crises. After the immediate challenges of disaster management, crises often reveal new evidence or frame new normative perspectives that drive reforms designed to prevent future events of a similar magnitude. Such responses vary widely - from cosmetically masking inaction, to creating stronger incentive systems, requiring greater transparency, reorganizing government institutions and tightening regulatory standards. This book situates post-crisis regulatory policy-making through a set of conceptual essays written by leading scholars from economics, psychology and political science, which probe the latest thinking about risk analysis, risk perceptions, focusing events and narrative politics. It then presents ten historically-rich case studies that engage with crisis events in three policy domains: offshore oil, nuclear power and finance. It considers how governments can prepare to learn from crisis events - by creating standing expert investigative agencies to identify crisis causes and frame policy recommendations.
Terrorism poses a serious risk to health, safety and the environment. Using conventional methods such as bombs or aircraft, terrorism can cause dozens to thousands of human fatalities, spread toxic plumes of smoke, and trigger widespread fear and restrictions on civil liberties. Using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – chemical, biological or nuclear weapons – terrorism could inflict much greater harm, perhaps millions of deaths and irreparable ecological devastation. Managing the risk of terrorism has become the paramount concern of many governments. Yet the sources of terrorism are highly uncertain, very difficult to assess and manage, and intent on evading preventive measures.
Governments have many options for managing threats to national security. After several decades of pursuing deterrence and containment against the Soviet Union, the US won the Cold War, only to be stunned by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Concerned that deterrence and containment would not succeed against non-state actors willing to commit suicide attacks, and loath to repeat the mistake of 9/11 (perhaps next time involving WMD), the Bush administration adopted a new National Security Strategy in September 2002. The UK government took a similar stance. This new strategy calls for anticipatory attacks against potential enemies with uncertain capacities and intentions, even before their threat is imminent. Rather than wait for evidence of WMD, it shifts the burden of proof, obliging “rogue” states to show that they do not harbor WMD or terrorist cells, or else face the possibility of attack.
We are sorely in need of ideas as to how to proceed to address the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs):
(1) Global climate change (GCC) is a huge and genuine problem, as is now more widely recognized than even a few years ago.
(2) The Kyoto Protocol, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) within which it sits, constitute the only multilateral framework we have to address the problem.
(3) The Protocol, as actually negotiated in 1997 or as it went into force in 2005, is inadequate in three important ways: its goals could be costly to achieve if interpreted literally, neither the largest nor the fastest-growing emitters have signed up, and it would have made only the tiniest dent in global GHG concentrations even if it had entered into force with good prospects for compliance and even if all countries had participated.
Few American economists support the Kyoto Protocol. I have spoken and written in support, at least, of the Clinton–Gore version of it, perhaps because I was (one of many) involved in its design during 1996–1999. My claim is that – given the combination of political, economic, and scientific realities as they are – Kyoto is a good foundation, a good first stepping stone on the most practical path if we are to address the global warming problem more seriously, as we should. Nobody would say that the text negotiated in Kyoto is ideal.
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