The Environment in World Politics: Exploring the Limits

The Environment in WORLD POLITICS explores the interaction of humanity with the physical environment from a systems perspective. The whole is taken to be made up of five sub-systems. The first two are international supply of and demand for goods and services with flows governed by market principles. Classically such a two-component self-stable system could be considered closed, in that two-way interaction with what lay outside was almost zero. However, the effects of economic activity on the physical environment can no longer be ignored and a third sub-system setting norms for acceptable discharges into the environment is plainly necessary. At the same time, the significance of economic activity representing exploitation of commons resources (and hence not obviously governable by market principles) has itself continued to increase. Commons sources are the fourth sub-system and the arrangements for monitoring resource-flows from such sources the fifth sub-system. The focus of the book is on sustainable development. This is taken to mean a stable relationship between the sub-systems, with the norms governing the flows between the sub-systems set and maintained at a desirable level. This approach is found naturally to accommodate the exploration of practical concerns including global warming, protection of the ozone layer, and the exploitation of nuclear power. It also provides a stimulating setting for the examination of INTER ALIA, the precautionary principle, the contentious role of science in the setting of environmental norms, and the population question. This book will be essential reading for social science undergraduates and postgraduate students of international relations, politics and international environmental politics.