Stephen Walt is the Robert and Rene Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was previously on the faculties of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, where he served as Deputy Dean of Social Sciences. He is the author of books including The Origins of Alliances, Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy. He is a frequent contributor to journals including Foreign Policy and International Security. He was educated at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
He presently serves on the editorial boards of Foreign Policy, Security Studies, International Relations, and Journal of Cold War Studies, and he also serves as Co-Editor of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, published by Cornell University Press. Additionally, he was elected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in May 2005.
Question: Is development at odds with environmentalism?
Stephen Walt: I think there’s an obvious tradeoff. We can’t have, you know, seven to eight billion people on the planet all of them living like Americans. So one of the problems we’re going to have to address as a society is how do you convince people in the most advanced societies who are consuming most of the resources to . . . to essentially a diminution I regard as not necessarily a diminution of their lifestyles, but a diminution of their ostentation. Or to put it in really crude terms, how do you get more Americans and Europeans to have a much, much smaller carbon footprint, right? Without thinking that that requires us all to live in tiny homes; that requires us all to ride bicycles to work or things like that; but rather can we be happy about a different lifestyle where maybe the 12,000 foot McMansion is not the American dream, and that we all accept that many more people are going to have to live in some parts of their lives in a much more constrained fashion. I actually regard that as a social and cultural problem that we are, again, just beginning to have to think about. And it’s not one that’s gonna sit well with many Americans. We tend to think, “We’re Americans. We’re entitled to whatever we can afford.”
Recorded on: 10/8/07