In the Spotlight

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with the U.S. Representative to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency Ambassador Laura Holgate on July 22, 2016, after arriving at Vienna International Airport in Vienna, Austria, to attend a meeting aimed at amending the Montreal Protocol climate change agreement. (Dept. of State)

Department of State

After serving as Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Holgate returns to the Belfer Center to work on WMD issues.

More from Laura Holgate

Science March Washington D.C.

AP

Some thoughtful people, including distinguished scientists, argue that the science marches are a mistake. John Holdren begs to differ.

Explore the Environment and Natural Resources Program

Kim Jong-un

Zennie Abraham

Both the United States and North Korea are rattling sabers, but neither side is going to start a war.

Check out the International Security Program

Diplomacy

Diplomacy ResearchRSS

Diplomacy Experts

Samantha Power

Samantha Power

Former Project Director, Human Rights Initiative; Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Graham Allison

Graham Allison

Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Member of the Board; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns

Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School; Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Faculty Director, Future of Diplomacy Project; Faculty Chair, Middle East Initiative; Faculty Chair, India & South Asia Program

Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment ResearchRSS

Electric cars sit charging in a parking garage at the University of California, Irvine, January 26, 2015.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

When the country faces a major threat, a dedicated minority recognizes it and lobbies hard for strong actions to address it.  Stakeholders with powerful vested interests in the status quo lobby just as hard (sometimes harder) to block the proposed actions. In many cases, the advocates for change never get past this stage.

Given sufficient leadership and popular support, however, in some cases effective measures have been adopted, tremendous benefits achieved, and the dire warnings of economic damage from these measures have turned out to be wrong. Instead, the environmental initiatives succeeded in strengthening the environment while the economy grew.  

When faced by an imperative to reduce pollutants, companies have invested in technology and innovation and found that in driving down pollutants they also drove down costs. This result has occurred many times. In response to the 1970s energy crisis, for example, California introduced the first-ever efficiency standards for refrigerators in 1976. By 2009, the average new U.S. refrigerator used 72 percent less electricity than the corresponding 1976 model, but performed better and cost 65 percent less.  

What can we learn from these past successes in facing global threats?

Energy & Environment Experts

Kelly Sims Gallagher

Kelly Sims Gallagher

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Calestous Juma

Calestous Juma

Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa; Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Laura Diaz Anadon

Laura Diaz Anadon

Associate, Environment and Natural Resources Program

Science & Technology

Science & Technology ResearchRSS

President Barack Obama meets with members of this national security team and cybersecurity advisers.

AP

"Every president stocks the White House with people who can advise him on the economy, national defense, and foreign relations. And nearly all presidents in modern times have understood that science and technology are so central to all of those top-tier issues — and practically every other issue on the nation’s agenda — that science and technology advice in the White House is no less essential."

Science & Technology Experts

John P. Holdren

John P. Holdren

Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy; Co-Director, Science, Technology and Public Policy Program; Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama on Science and Technology

Matthew Bunn

Matthew Bunn

Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom; Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

David Keith

David Keith

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Security

Security ResearchRSS

Photo of Kim Jong Un waving in 2013.

(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

The threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program is getting worse — much worse. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, meeting Thursday and Friday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, face an urgent and growing problem that is more severe today than ever before.

Security Experts

Ash Carter

Ashton B. Carter

Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School – Effective July 2017; Belfer Professor of Technology and Global Affairs - Effective July 2017; Member of the Board; Former United States Secretary of Defense (2015-2017)

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

Director, Intelligence and Defense Project; Director, Project on Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council Security

Nawaf Obaid

Nawaf Obaid

Visiting Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs