Climate change, international public opinion and more: links, stories, and comment

Climate change

This was the week for thinking about climate change.  And when not distracted by “climate-gate”, there were some good debates out there.

Not on climate change, per se, but Dan Bodansky’s new book, The Art and Craft of International Environmental Law, looks interesting.

International Public Opinion

Opinio Juris reports that the Council on Foreign Relations has released a report, “Public Opinion on Global Issues”.  Some of the findings are relevant to concerns about climate change:

Perception of Climate Change as a Problem or Threat: On average in 2009, 85 percent of those polled globally said the problem was serious, with 56 percent saying it was very serious. The number of people saying that it is not a problem averaged just 3 percent and was always in the single digits, with the exception of the United States in 2009 when this figure reached 11 percent. (The average 2007 and 2008 numbers were almost exactly the same as those in 2009.)

Other findings challenge the idea of American Exceptionalism:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the digest suggests substantial consistency in the views of Americans and their counterparts abroad regarding the importance of international law, international institutions, and multilateral cooperation to address global challenges. Far from being insular or obsessed with sovereignty, Americans convey support for internationalist principles and a willingness to compromise for effective multilateral cooperation.

A few headlines are particularly striking. Most Americans favor a world order that is multipolar or led by the United Nations, rather than based on U.S. hegemony or a bipolar balance. They believe that all nations must abide by international law even when doing so is at odds with their national interest. A large majority of Americans express support for U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court, even after hearing past U.S. government objections.

Dan Drezner has his own take on a recent Pew Survey on American public opinion about foreign policy.  He finds that Americans are quite “realist” right now.  But Americans are also rather uninformed (he actually calls us “dumb”).

Other stories

Opinio Juris has a link to some stories suggesting Blackwater “assassins” may be posing as aid workers.  This reminds me of when I interned in Congress one summer during college. There was a Senate hearing on whether the CIA should use journalists, priest, Peace Corps Volunteers and the like as spies overseas.  The hearing was stopped quite early on when it was decided that having a public debate about such things is not smart.

The Reuters Africa Blog ponders whether the war is over in Darfur.

Some of Ghana’s football stars are in trouble. Fortunately, it is a minor issue.  But come on guys!  You have to get your acts together for the World Cup!

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