Reports & Papers

21 Items

man takes a rapid COVID-19 test

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File

Social Distancing in Trader Joe's parking lot

Wikimedia CC/Strmsrg

Report - opcast.org

Epidemiological Modeling Needs New, Coherent, Federal Support for the Post-COVID-19 Era

    Authors:
  • Christine Cassel
  • Christopher Chyba
  • Susan Graham
  • Richard C. Levin
  • Ed Penhoet
  • William Press
  • Maxine Savitz
  • Harold Varmus
| Sep. 28, 2020

Epidemiological modeling is an important but under-supported field of science that lacks a clear home among the federal science-funding agencies. Additional basic research and translational work in the field is needed between pandemics, and greater operational capabilities are needed during epidemics. The authors of this report have identified here a series of actions that can strengthen modeling efforts and their operationalization, to make the country better prepared for the next pandemic.

COVID-19 Testing Site

Wikimedia CC/Prim8acs

Report - opcast.org

Testing for the Pathogen During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Future Ones

    Authors:
  • Christine Cassel
  • Christopher Chyba
  • Susan Graham
  • Richard C. Levin
  • Ed Penhoet
  • William Press
  • Maxine Savitz
  • Harold Varmus
| Aug. 18, 2020

The United States has failed to deploy adequate testing for the presence of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 during the Covid-19 pandemic and has been unable to avoid continued spread of the virus. In this report, the authors explain why such testing is an essential factor in efforts to control the pandemic, why adequate testing has been difficult to achieve, and why the United States has not met the challenge. They conclude by recommending ways to provide more extensive testing in this and future epidemics.

Tractors on Westminster bridge

AP/Matt Dunham

Paper - Institut für Sicherheitspolitik

The Global Order After COVID-19

| 2020

Despite the far-reaching effects of the current pandemic,  the essential nature of world politics will not be transformed. The territorial state will remain the basic building-block of international affairs, nationalism will remain a powerful political force, and the major powers will continue to compete for influence in myriad ways. Global institutions, transnational networks, and assorted non-state actors will still play important roles, of course, but the present crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation. In short, the post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less free, less prosperous, and more competitive than the world many people expected to emerge only a few years ago.

Discussion Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Transitioning to Long-Run Effective and Efficient Climate Policies

| April 2019

This paper evaluates factors affecting the potential to transition over time to more efficient longrun climate policies, including the sequence of policies to be adopted. By considering these factors, policymakers can increase the likelihood that more efficient policies emerge from the current suite of less-efficient measures being pursued by some national and sub-national governments. The authors focus on the state of Oregon, which is currently contemplating the adoption of a greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade system.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

American Nuclear Diplomacy

| August 4, 2016

In this report, American Nuclear Diplomacy: Forging a New Consensus to Fight Climate Change and Weapons Proliferation, Former Deputy Secretary of Energy and Belfer Center Senior Fellow Daniel Poneman writes that we face two existential threats: nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change. Each, he says, stems from human origins. Both must be fought aggressively.

"Multiple studies confirm the grim truth that, even if all nations fulfill their Paris Climate Agreement emissions pledges, the world will still far overshoot the 2°C warming limit scientists say we must not exceed to prevent devastating climate impacts. Carbon-free nuclear energy can help close the gap. But can we expand its environmental benefits without increasing the risks of nuclear terror?"

Poneman outlines a diplomatic strategy and tough-minded, bipartisan policies to get us there.

Discussion Paper - Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center

Energy Technology Expert Elicitations for Policy: Workshops, Modeling, and Meta-analysis

| October 2014

Characterizing the future performance of energy technologies can improve the development of energy policies that have net benefits under a broad set of future conditions. In particular, decisions about public investments in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) that promote technological change can benefit from (1) an explicit consideration of the uncertainty inherent in the innovation process and (2) a systematic evaluation of the tradeoffs in investment allocations across different technologies. To shed light on these questions, over the past five years several groups in the United States and Europe have conducted expert elicitations and modeled the resulting societal benefits. In this paper, the authors discuss the lessons learned from the design and implementation of these initiatives.

An oil pump jack in Santa Maria, California, a three-story humming contraption struck residents as a mere curiosity until someone uttered the petroleum industry's dirty word: fracking.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Discussion Paper

North American Oil and Gas Reserves: Prospects and Policy

| July 2012

Expanding estimates of North America’s supply of accessible shale gas, and more recently, shale oil, have been trumpeted in many circles as the most significant energy resource development since the oil boom in Texas in the late 1920s. How large are these resources? What challenges will need to be overcome if their potential is to be realized? How will they impact U.S. energy policy?

To address these questions, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and two of its programs ― the Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Geopolitics of Energy Project ― convened a group of experts from business, government, and academia on May 1, 2012, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The following report summarizes the major issues discussed at this workshop. Since the discussions were off-the-record, no comments are attributed to any individual. Rather, this report attempts to summarize the arguments on all sides of the issues.

May 24, 2006: Brooktrout Lake near Speculator, N.Y. in the Adirondacks. Brooktrout Lake was once a "dead" lake devastated by acid rain and is now a symbol of nature's ability to heal itself once pollutants are curbed.

AP Photo

Report - Harvard Environmental Economics Program

The SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation

| January 2012

The introduction of the U.S. SO2 allowance-trading program to address the threat of acid rain as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 is a landmark event in the history of environmental regulation. The program was a great success by almost all measures. Ironically, cap and trade seems especially well suited to addressing the problem of climate change, in that emitted greenhouse gases are evenly distributed throughout the world's atmosphere. Recent hostility toward cap and trade in debates about U.S. climate legislation may reflect the broader political environment of the climate debate more than the substantive merits of market-based regulation.

Report - Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center

Transforming U.S. Energy Innovation

The United States and the world need a revolution in energy technology—a revolution that would improve the performance of our energy systems to face the challenges ahead. In an intensely competitive and interdependent global landscape, and in the face of large climate risks from ongoing U.S. reliance on a fossil-fuel based energy system, it is important to maintain and expand long-term investments in the energy future of the U.S. even at a time of budget stringency. It is equally necessary to think about how to improve the efficiency of those investments, through strengthening U.S. energy innovation institutions, providing expanded incentives for private-sector innovation, and seizing opportunities where international cooperation can accelerate innovation. The private sector role is key: in the United States the vast majority of the energy system is owned by private enterprises, whose innovation and technology deployment decisions drive much of the country's overall energy systems.