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Looming global-scale failures and missing institutions

Brian Walker, Scott Barrett, Stephen Polasky, Victor Galaz, Carl Folke, Gustav Engström, Frank Ackerman, Ken Arrow, Stephen Carpenter, Kanchan Chopra, Gretchen Daily, Paul Ehrlich, Terry Hughes, Nils Kautsky, Simon Levin, Karl-Göran Mäler, Jason Shogren, Jeff Vincent, Tasos Xepapadeas, Aart de Zeeuw Science, vol 325:1345-1346 (2009)


Energy, food, and water crises; climate disruption; declining fisheries; increasing ocean acidification; emerging diseases; and increasing antibiotic resistance are examples of serious, intertwined global-scale challenges spawned by the accelerating scale of human activity. They are outpacing the development of institutions to deal with them and their many interactive effects. The core of the problem is inducing cooperation in situations where individuals and nations will collectively gain if all cooperate, but each faces the temptation to take a free ride on the cooperation of others. The nation-state achieves cooperation by the exercise of sovereign power within its boundaries. The difficulty to date is that transnational institutions provide, at best, only partial solutions, and implementation of even these solutions can be undermined by internation competition and recalcitrance.

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Keywords: Askö, asko, institutions

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