doomed to fail if some of the major national actors do not cooperate. Recent agreements among the advanced industrial countries to phase out the use of CFCs cannot solve the problem of ozone depletion unless some way is devised to persuade China, India, and other developing countries to use substitutes for CFCs in their rapidly increasing production and consumption of refrigerants. The global warming problem is even more complex. Not only is there a need for cooperation between the advanced industrialized states and the major fossil fuel-using states of the developing world, but there is also the problem of controlling other sources of greenhouse gases. These sources are as diverse and widespread as methane-releasing agricultural activity in south Asian rice paddies and North American feedlots and carbon releases from cutting tropical forests in Zaire and Brazil.

Some environmental problems call for international action because activities in one country produce spillover effects or externalities affecting other countries. An example is the emission of airborne pollutants in the eastern United States and Eastern Europe. International cooperation is needed to articulate and apply liability rules or to allow the countries affected by spillover effects to compensate those responsible for the offensive emissions for terminating or redirecting their activities.

Today's concerns with international arrangements focus mainly on mitigating global environmental changes rather than adjusting to them. In the future, however, as global changes become realities, there will be more calls for international cooperation to adjust to the impacts, for instance, by developing buffer stocks of food crops or mechanisms to handle flows of environmental refugees.

International cooperation poses difficult problems, even when all the parties stand to gain from the right agreement. One of the most robust theoretical findings of the social sciences is that rational actors engaging in interactive decision making in the absence of effective rules or social conventions often fail to realize feasible joint gains, sometimes ending up with outcomes that are destructive for all concerned (Olson, 1965; Hardin, 1982). The conditions of international society make the problem more complicated than it is in other situations. The issues are seldom well defined at the start, so that preliminary negotiations may be needed to define them. When unanimity is required, some states can hold the agreement hostage to better terms for themselves. Each country is complex, and bargaining within countries can make international agreements especially difficult (Putnam, 1988). And

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement