Radioactive Waste Disposal at Sea
Most studies of environmental regimes focus on the use of power, the pursuit of rational self-interest, and the influence of scientific knowledge. Lasse Ringius focuses instead on the influence of public ideas and policy entrepreneurs. He shows how transnational coalitions of policy entrepreneurs can build environmental regimes and how global environmental nongovernmental organizations can act as catalysts for regime change.
This is the first book-length empirical study of the formation of the global ocean dumping regime in 1972 and its subsequent development, which culminated in the 1993 global ban on the dumping of low-level radioactive waste at sea. Ringius describes the structure within which global ocean dumping policy, particularly policy with regard to the disposal of radioactive waste, is embedded. He also examines the political construction of ocean dumping as a global environmental problem, the role of persuasion and communication in an international setting, and the formation of international public opinion. He does not argue that the influence of ideas alone explains how regimes develop, but claims that it is necessary to understand how actors, interests, and ideas together influence regimes and international environmental policy.
“This book makes a significant contribution by showing that, under certain circumstances, regimes can be created and changed by a combination of powerful but highly oversimplified 'public ideas' and transnational political entrepreneurs. The work is original and the scholarship is sound beyond any question.”
—Edward L. Miles, Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professor of Marine Studies and Public Affairs, University of Washington
“In telling the story of how an environmental organization initiated a regime for regulating radioactive waste disposal that went against both scientific consensus and the interests of powerful states and yet ultimately triumphed, this book challenges important conventional wisdom about how international environmental regulation happens. Ringius shows the power of public ideas and policy entrepreneurs in international negotiations in a way that has implications far beyond this particular case.”
—Elizabeth R. DeSombre, Environmental Studies and Government, Colby College
“This careful analysis of the creation of the global ocean dumping regime in 1972 and its transformation in 1993 to include a ban on the disposal at sea of radioactive waste persuasively demonstrate the importance of public ideas, transnational coalitions of policy entrepreneurs, and environmental non-governmental organizations. The analysis contains important insights for international environmental policy. Forceful ideas and people and committed NGOs can make a difference.”
—Harold K. Jacobson, Jesse Siddal Reeves Professor of Political Science, Senior Research Scientist, and Visiting Professor of Law, University of Michigan