The Greening of Global Warming

By Robert Mendelsohn | Go to book overview

Foreword

This volume is one in a series commissioned by the American Enterprise Institute to contribute to the debates over global environmental policy issues. Until very recently, American environmental policy was directed toward problems that were seen to be of a purely, or at least largely, domestic nature. Decisions concerning emissions standards for automobiles and power plants, for example, were set with reference to their effect on the quality of air Americans breathe.

That is no longer the case. Policy makers increasingly find that debates over environmental standards have become globalized, to borrow a word that has come into fashion in several contexts. Global warming is the most prominent of those issues: Americans now confront claims that the types of cars they choose to drive, the amount and mix of energy they consume in their homes and factories, and the organization of their basic industries all have a direct effect on the lives of citizens of other countries—and, in some formulations, may affect the future of the planet itself.

Other issues range from the management of forests, fisheries, and water resources to the preservation of species and the search for new energy sources. Not far in the background of all those new debates, however, are the oldest subjects of international politics—competition for resources and competing interests and ideas concerning economic growth, the distribution of wealth, and the terms of trade.

An important consequence of those developments is that the arenas in which environmental policy is determined

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