Rash Realism


Recently, there has been an increasing trend of further interest and action towards mitigating the present matters of global climate change (Held) leaving hope of cooperation in contrast to the realist view. The realist view acknowledges global challenges but believes that these state issues are direct causes of other states and that these issues should be solved through self-help and military power (Bova 238-239). Realist thinkers often perceive the notion of cooperation to resolve issues is foolish and naïve. (Bova 249-250) The question then becomes, have the past and present helped to indorse realistic thoughts or is there hope that global collaboration is possible in the future? To me, the answer to such questions is that realists should contemplate the “self-help” idea, asking themselves if that is really enough to combat adequate enough responses to present threats. (Bova 239)

In the past, yes maybe this view would make more sense in a time before conferences of the parties were a thing and where there were less regulations or targets for emissions reductions in place. Hell, even at a time when the notion of attempting emissions reductions through the Kyoto Protocol was on the rise, realism may be justified. There were large emitters of green house gases that would not sign the protocol and many developing countries with fewer emissions were not required to reduce. In situations like this, where all nations are not held accountable, it is reasonable that some may see the idea of “self-help” as the best or only option. Furthermore, in times of war or dispute between other nations, it is practical to not see global cooperation as a possibility.

But it is not the past, it is the present and with this we must look today to the inspiring and remarkable efforts that are rising from the developing nations, stepping up to be “climate leaders”. Numerous developing countries around the world are commencing and transforming from no involvement in the climate change problem to actually initiating their own actions; cap and trade systems, targets/goals, emissions reductions regulations, etc… This is happening in different parts of the world, regardless of whether they are huge top-ten emitters of greenhouses gases or not. (Held) These examples of more and more nations stepping up to the plate, looking to further address the problem is reason enough to me, for realists to recognize the escalating potential of collaboration.

We must look forward from the past and focus attention to the present and the future of such issues. Every man for himself has been a start to assessing the worldwide subject of climate change, but it is just that; worldwide and universal. To me, this means that everyone must assess together, that cooperation as the main focus, is the only way. We are all human beings alike, regardless. Realists know that there is a problem and they know that it needs to be addressed. It is “naïve” of them to not give hope to our world working together, not the other way around.


Works cited

**Arguments and ideas are supported by “Editors’ Introduction: Climate Governance in the Developing World.”

Held, David, Charles Roger, and Eva-Maria Nag, eds. “Editors’ Introduction: Climate Governance in the Developing World.” Climate Governance in the Developing World. Malden: Polity Press, 2013. 1-25. Print.

Russell Bova, How the World Works: A Brief Survey of International Relations (New York, NY: Longman Publishing, 2011)

Which international relations theory will you choose?

The world in which we live in is made up of optimists and pessimists. There are those who always look for the bright side in a given situation and then there are those who just expect the worst. In terms of international relations, we call the optimists the liberals and constructivists and we call the pessimists the realists. Liberals believe that global cooperation can be achieved and is an alternative to power politics. Constructivists are a bit different. They believe that change in world politics can transpire without having to change the entire structure of the international system. Realists on the other hand think that everyone is in it for themselves. It is all a game of who can get the most power between sovereign states.

According to Russell Bova’s book “How the World Works”, “While liberals and constructivists see global problems like the environment pushing states toward cooperation and global solutions, U.S. nonparticipation in the Kyoto Protocol and the disappointing outcome at Copenhagen reinforce realist skepticism. Indeed, realists see those environmental problems as yet another potential source of international conflict” (p.248). Realists see that international conflicts will arise such as competition for scarce resources. Just like the power game, a race will start regarding who can get the most of what is running out—let’s face it, the bigger country with the most power will win.

If every single country decides to cooperate and solutions are created for our global problems, all might be well and go smoothly…NOT! This is where the question of governance for whom comes into play. Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell addressed this question pretty well in “Governing Climate Change.” They discussed three areas where issues arise regarding global problems. The questions of who is responsible, who pays for action on mitigation and adaption, and who bears the costs of actions and inactions pops up. The countries that have contributed the least amount of carbon emissions which would be the developing nations, are actually much more susceptible to the effects of climate change than the large actors. Richer countries have the ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, Bangladesh is a country that lies below sea level. When areas in Bangladesh are hit hard and homes, lands, family, as well as many other things are lost, who comes to their rescue? It’s certainly not their government because they cannot afford it. These people living in these areas have to fend for themselves and establish a whole new life in the slums of a city. They have to start from scratch. However, when the Northeastern coast was hit by hurricane Sandy, shelters, food, repairs, and so much more were provided to those who needed the aid. The government had funds to aid those in need and also had money to repair the damages. In New York City, the subways were drained, houses near beaches were fixed, and even places such as South Street Seaport were repaired almost immediately. A big and powerful country like the United States has the ability to go back to our daily routines. Countries like Bangladesh do not.

Climate change was caused by the development of the North. The United States has contributed twenty percent towards global emissions. The United States alone caused this much damage, so why should others pay the price? Ultimately, can all of the countries in the world cooperate and come up with global solutions when the United States did not even participate in the Kyoto Protocol?