HKS Authors

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Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy, Emeritus


The question of whether we can "act in time" on energy and climate change poses one of the most profound challenges facing the world today. No human activity, other than the wide-scale use of nuclear weapons, has greater potential to reshape and harm our planet and our species than the rapidly expanding generation of greenhouse gases. What is so frustrating about the issue is that even though the dangers are widely accepted in the scientific community, and even though failing to act in time could set off a chain of events that would be all but irreversible, action to date has been weak at best. "Acting in time" has been a theme of a larger research project housed at the Harvard Kennedy School. It focuses precisely on the question of why nations, institutions, and individuals so often seem unwilling or unable to act in time, even when problems are easily seen coming and even when acting sooner rather than later will be far less costly in the long run.


Ellwood, David. Foreword. Acting in Time on Energy Policy. Ed. Kelly Sims Gallagher. Brookings Institution Press, 2009, vii-xii.