Interview with Vivian Thomson, author of “Sophisticated Interdependence in Climate Policy”

9781783080175_1The following is an interview with Vivian Thomson, author of
“Sophisticated Interdependence in Climate Change Policy: Federalism in the United States, Brazil, and Germany”

This book offers a desperately needed framework for climate-change policy in the US, acknowledging the crucial role of coherent state–federal relations.

Q: What does the term ‘Sophisticated Interdependence’ mean?

Vivian Thomson: Washington, DC needs help in the climate change policy arena. In June 2014 the US Environmental Protection Agency will set the stage for the 50 states to regulate electrical power plant carbon dioxide emissions, which constitute about 30 percent of US greenhouse gas pollution.  The states have long worked with EPA to control regional or local air pollution under the Clean Air Act.  But we are in uncharted waters because of climate change’s global scale and also because some US states have forged ahead of the national government in the climate and renewable energy arena.
I borrowed the term ‘sophisticated interdependence’ from Patricia Mulroy, longtime head of Las Vegas’s water authority and veteran of Colorado River water rights battles.  In my book ‘sophisticated interdependence’ means: (1) framing US state-national partnerships so as to intertwine climate protection, energy security, fiscal discipline, renewable energy, environmental justice, and energy diversification; (2) connecting domestic actions with those abroad in nations like Germany and Brazil; and, (3) integrating the variable constraints and opportunities faced by the US states into the plans approved by EPA.

Q: Why look to Germany and Brazil for instructive lessons?

VT: Brazil and Germany represent distinctive powerhouse foils for the United States.  
The focus of ‘Sophisticated Interdependence’ is state-national relations in climate and energy policymaking. The United States, Brazil, and Germany have the highest GDPs of any federal nations, that is, nations in which sub-national political entities have powers independent of the national government. Brazil and Germany both speak forcefully in the global climate arena.   While each nation’s political institutions have a unique stamp, born of different circumstances and traditions, cross-country comparisons can stimulate new ways of thinking and help foster international collaboration.

Germany has long been a leader in climate change and renewable energy, and the German Länder (states) compete with one another in these arenas.  These policy choices have gone hand-in-hand with economic growth that out-strips that in the US on a per capita basis. Between 1990 and 2010 Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions per capita dropped by 26 percent even as the country’s per capita GDP per capita expanded by 36 percent.  In the same interval per capita GDP in the US grew slightly less, by 31 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions per capita decreased by a paltry 2 percent.

In Brazil the division of responsibilities between state and national authorities in climate policy is still being sorted out. But much interesting activity is taking place, including the national government’s ongoing commitment to reducing deforestation in the Amazon.  At the same time, the economically powerful, populous Southeast states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have undertaken their own climate change programs.  Brazil’s strong regionalism, based partly on race, echoes that in the United States.

Brazil’s energy security provides a fascinating contrast to the energy insecurity of the United States and Germany.  Brazilians should never have to spend trillions of dollars on foreign wars to fuel their cars or worry about Russia cutting off natural gas supplies.

Q: You say that  ‘Climate change is an especially complicated tragedy of the global commons for several reasons.  Industrialized countries like the United States have prospered while freely spewing greenhouse gases that affect the whole world.  The costs of controlling greenhouse gases are concentrated while the benefits are shared, diffuse, and deferred’. Is ‘not believing in Climate Change’ still an issue in the United States that prevents effective action?

VT: Roughly 2/3 of US Americans believe that climate change is real (see http://ncse.com/news/2013/11/new-poll-climate-from-pew-0015157). Despite strong partisan divides at the national level, seventy-seven percent of Republican voters support moving away from fossil fuels (see http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/survey-finds-most-republicans-seek-action-on-climate-change/).

US leaders can help educate the public by following their overseas counterparts, like Chancellor Merkel, in framing the issue in terms of achieving fiscal discipline, energy security, economic competitiveness, and environmental justice.

But action in the US political system does not depend on national polls. The US Supreme Court recognized in 2007 that the harms associated with climate change are “serious and well recognized.” Because of that landmark decision the US EPA is using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles and from stationary sources.  Although we have no national climate or renewable energy law, many states have filled that policy vacuum.

The US is a patchwork quilt nation with striking regional distinctions. In my book I analyze a wide variety of factors that help illuminate differences in state-level action. Among the important factors separating active from passive states are the use or production of coal, the nature of the state’s political culture, and the degree of state-level legislative professionalism.

The net result of sub-national regulatory action, the Great Recession, and the market-driven substitution of natural gas for coal in electricity generation is that the US’s greenhouse gas emissions are at their lowest level since 1994.   But we must enact policies to maintain this progress, even if market forces change.

The goals of ‘Sophisticated Interdependence’ are to light that path domestically and to emphasize the importance of connecting with our global colleagues along the way.

Find out more about the book and the author on our website:
http://www.anthempress.com/memory-machines

Anthem Library of the Month | DON L. LOVE LIBRARY

© 2012 Sampson Construction

The Don L. Love Library at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln houses one of the largest collections of books in the Great Plains area of the United States, including an impressive selection of books in the sciences, humanities, and other areas, as well as the largest collection of books on film and media in the Midwest. With more than 2,300,000 volumes in Love’s collection, and more than 500,000 patrons annually, Love Library offers media in a wide variety of formats, and has a wireless network that provides users with access to the Internet via personal laptop computers.

Love’s collection includes volumes on art, business, education, geography, history, journalism, language, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion and sociology, among numerous other disciplines, and provides an invaluable collection for the both researchers and students, all meticulously organized and catalogued. Thus, Love Library is of the great libraries of the United States, and one of the finest research libraries available to the public, which prides itself on a vast collection of books, the use of cutting edge technology, and a dedicated staff.

—Wheeler Winston Dixon, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA; Co-Series Editor of New Perspectives on World Cinema

Interview with Michael Bhaskar, author of “The Content Machine: Towards a Theory of Publishing from the Printing Press to the Digital Network”

9780857281111The following is an interview with Michael Bhaskar, author of The Content Machine: Towards a Theory of Publishing from the Printing Press to the Digital Network

This book is a ground-breaking study that demonstrates how publishing can survive and thrive in the digital age.

Q: As the title of your book suggests, you are in favour of finding a ‘Theory of Publishing’. Why do you think a theory of publishing is necessary and why do we need it now?

Michael Bhaskar: Despite employing millions of people around the world, it’s not clear what publishing actually is or means. When you look at the different kinds of publishing, different definitions, different histories, it doesn’t add up. It conflicts. So we need a better explanation, especially in today’s world, when anyone can be a publisher. What makes you a publisher in the first place? Also, there is plenty of literary, communications and media theory, but no publishing theory. Again, that doesn’t make sense as publishing is a critical part of literature, communication and media.

Q: ‘[P]ublishing is in crisis’. In your opinion, what is the greatest threat to the publishing industry as it exists today?

MB: The biggest threat to publishing is disintermediation – the cutting of publishers out of the value chain. This threat has been made much more serious by the Internet. It’s the nature of the network that many of the structural features of a publisher can be bypassed. We need to reinvent, and better understand the role if publishers are going to have a future. Publishing itself won’t go away; publishing is an essential activity in society. Publishers as they exist today, however, might.

Q: It has been mentioned again and again that the publishing industry is old-fashioned and therefore lagging behind in the modern world. In what way do you think it is necessary for publishing industry to adapt to a more modern standard?

Firstly, I think this is a myth. When you examine contemporary publishers they are much more sophisticated than people often give them credit for. When you look at publishers historically, they have actually been on the cutting edge of a host of developments, from advanced technology to new business practices. Publishers have lead the way for hundreds of years. That said, the nature of the digital challenge and disintermediation in particular, does mean there have to be huge changes.

The main thing is recognising that the core of what a publisher does has evolved. It used to be about making content available. Now it is about making markets and audiences for that content. In both cases I argue publishing is about amplification. It’s just that amplification means something different in the context of abundance created by the Internet. Marketing is the first thing. The next thing I would say is that publishers need more direct relationships, a ‘lean’ methodology that builds learning into their workflows and a greater range of products.

Q: Why would you recommend students read your book and how do they gain most from doing so?

My book aims to fuse the practical and the theoretical, the historical with the future oriented. Most books on publishing shy away from the big, deep questions. In today’s world, because of publishing’s great existential challenge, that no longer works. We all – students, academics, practitioners – have to get a better handle on the nature of publishing to ensure it stays vibrant, diverse and high quality. It’s an immense challenge and one the book, I hope, helps with in a way no one else has tried.

Find out more about the book and the author on our website:
http://www.anthempress.com/the-content-machine

You can follow Michael on Twitter @michaelbhaskar
www.michaelbhaskar.com/

Anthem EnviroExperts Review | February 2014 Issue

New issue of Anthem EnviroExperts Review published!
Read the latest reviews here: www.anthemenviroexperts.com


The Bet: Paul Erlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future, by Paul Sabin, Yale University Press, 2013, 320 pp.

Reviewed by Peter R. Mulvihill, University of York

This book explores the history and development of opposing ideologies and perspectives that shape political discourse about the environment.

What are the prospects of informed and nuanced debate on global environmental issues and climate change? If Paul Sabin’s new book is any indication, we have a long way to go before we can reasonably expect edifying debate to take place. The Bet is an exploration of the ideological and political gulf that continues to separate ‘pessimists’ who believe in resource limits and ‘optimists’ who contend that environmental concerns are exaggerated and can be overcome by technology and ingenuity.

In this well written and expertly researched book, Sabin guides the reader through the history of polarized environmental debates in the United States, embodied in particular by two well known and prolific academics. In the green corner is Paul Erlich, author of The Population Bomb and other notable works. His chief opponent, Julian Simon, penned The Ultimate Resource and numerous other essays in response to what he dismissed as neo-Malthusian hysteria. Sabin offers an intimate history, probing the personalities and motivations of Erlich and Simon, and charts their respective career paths as they gathered influence and honed their debating strategies (and informed those of Carter, Reagan and many others in the political arena).

Erlich emerged first, and it might surprise today’s younger environmentalists to consider that he was famous enough to have been a guest on The Tonight Show in the 1970s more than twenty times. As Johnny Carson might have said, that is weird, wild stuff indeed. And, pardon the digression, but I would be willing to wager that this is the only book in existence with a bibliography that lists ‘Carson, Johnny’ followed by ‘Carson, Rachel’.

The Bet is part of a growing literature documenting and analyzing the history of the modern environmental movement. The Erlich/Simon conflict – as Sabin shows, they became bitter adversaries – is a useful vehicle to examine the underlying reasons for the ongoing lack of productive dialogue on sustainability and climate change. Popular images of the debates and the debaters remain largely stereotypical; any contest between perceived prophets of doom and dinosaurs is bound to be taken with a grain of salt. But it would be a mistake to assume that either side was posturing. It is striking to consider, as Sabin demonstrates, the mutual naivety of the foes. Simon could not grasp why the public seemed to be so interested what he viewed as unfounded and pessimistic prognostications of resource collapse, and Erlich, for his part, ‘…. could not fathom the possibility that fundamentally different values or ideologies might yield different conclusions.’ Needless to say, the reader will find little common ground or reconciliation in The Bet, but that is no doubt the point, and it raises important questions about the vagaries of scientific evidence, the mug’s game of prediction, the limits of debate and the dreariness of partisan environmental politics. If there is a silver lining to be found in this story, it may be the relative inexperience of the modern environmental movement and the possibility of future generation doing things differently.

Read more reviews here: www.anthemenviroexperts.com

Interested in submitting a review or a book to review?
Check out our submissions page
here.

“The Entrepreneurial State” TED Talk and Highlights

Check out the terrific TEDGlobal talk from Anthem author, Mariana Mazzucato, whose book, The Entrepreneurial State, has started a much needed discourse about the role of the state in innovation.


Financial Times named ‘The Entrepreneurial State’ one of the ‘2013 Books of the Year’Huffington Post listed it as one of their ‘Favorite Books of 2013‘, Forbes recommended it in its 2013 ‘creative leaders’ list, and Mazzucato was named by New Republic as one of the ‘most important innovation thinkers.

‘[R]ead her book. It will challenge your thinking.’
—Forbes

‘Ms Mazzucato is right to argue that the state has played a central role in producing game-changing breakthroughs, and that its contribution to the success of technology-based businesses should not be underestimated.’
—The Economist

‘Conventional economics offers abstract models; conventional wisdom insists that the answer lies with private entrepreneurship. In this brilliant book, Mariana Mazzucato… argues that the former is useless and the latter incomplete.’
The Financial Times

‘[A] meticulously argued treatise that shows how unwise our conventional wisdom has become.’
—Newsweek

‘[P]rovides a refreshing new take on rather stale debates on the economic role of government.’
—Globe and Mail

‘The state, [Mazzucato] argued, is a ‘market maker,’ whose ability to take bold, risky bets is critical for economies to grow at the global cutting edge.’
—The New York Times

‘This is a book whose time has come.’
—Professor Dani Rodrick, Harvard University

‘[A] well-researched and elegantly (even entertainingly) written knock-out to the belief [that] “the market knows best”.’  
—Professor Robert Wade, London School of Economics‘

[A]ims to get us to understand better the sources of entrepreneurship, and to reflect more positively on the role aggressive technology policies can play in getting our economies moving again.’  
—Professor Richard Nelson, Columbia University

‘[This book] has helped to persuade me to shift our approach in the UK.’
—David Willetts, UK Minister for universities and science

 

Read more about the book here: entrepreneurialstate.anthempressblog.com

Purchase your copy here: www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0857282522/w042-21

 

New Book Roundup: Featured Anthem Titles for February

Here are a few of our featured titles released this February:

9781783081264_hi-res.jpg

Re-balancing China: Essays on the Global Financial Crisis, Industrial Policy and International Relations

By Peter Nolan

This book offers unique insight from a leading expert on the core issues affecting China’s political economy today.

Very few Western academics know China through its economy, history and culture as well as Peter Nolan. This is a remarkable book, breathtaking and original in its analysis of the transformations in China’s economy as it seeks to re-balance internally and with the rest of the world. No one has done this better in context and explained the tensions and conflicts within China and with its major trading partners and competitors. I could not put this book down.’ —Andrew Sheng, President of the Fung Global Institute, Hong Kong

 
9781783080175_1.jpgSophisticated Interdependence in Climate Policy: Federalism in the United States, Brazil, and Germany

By Vivian E. Thomson

This book offers a desperately needed framework for climate-change policy in the US, acknowledging the crucial role of coherent state–federal relations.

“Through elaborated interconnections and an in-depth view, Thomson provides unique insights, skillfully identifying common ground and pivotal factors to break today’s stalemates in multilateral environmental agreements. Readers, regardless of their political views, will find much to stimulate their thinking in this book.” —Oswaldo Lucon, Professor, University of São Paulo, and Climate Change Adviser, São Paulo State Government

 
9781783080366_1.jpgA History of Ireland, 1800 – 1922: Theatres of Disorder?

By Hilary Larkin

In this study, Ireland’s status as a theatre of disorder from 1800 to 1922 is investigated and re-assessed.

‘Hilary Larkin’s book is more than a history of Ireland under the Union. It is in many respects a history of the Union, and she ranges with confidence over cultural, social and political events in Britain as well as in Ireland. She adds her own judgements to her impressive familiarity with and synthesis of recent historiography.’ —Michael Laffan, University College Dublin School of History and Archives

See our exclusive interview with the author below on our blog!

 
9781783081110.jpg‘In the World of the Outcasts: Notes of a Former Penal Laborer’ (Volume I and Volume II)

By Pëtr Filippovich Iakubovich, Translated with an Introduction by Andrew A. Gentes

The first English-language translation of P. F. Iakubovich’s popular roman à clef about his exile and experiences as a Siberian penal laborer during the late nineteenth century.