Geoengineering, the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, Biosimilar Drugs: RAND Weekly Recap

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January 14, 2022

This week, we discuss the geopolitical risks of tinkering with the climate; how NATO could help ease the Ukraine-Russia impasse; debating workers' compensation in the COVID-19 era; potentially huge cost savings from biosimilar drugs; what the evidence says about education benefits for veterans; and a Q&A with RAND researcher Jacqueline Burns.

An illustration of a globe and climate control, image by T.L. Furrer/Adobe Stock

Image by T.L. Furrer/Adobe Stock

It's Time to Prepare for Technologies That Manipulate the Climate

Sticks of silver iodide fired into the atmosphere to produce precipitation. Tiny particles suspended in the stratosphere to block the sun's rays. Massive filters and underground pumps that can siphon carbon from the air.

Geoengineering, the intentional manipulation of the climate, is quickly emerging as a tool to address global warming. Even though these technologies could have world-altering consequences, there is no international agreement or enforcement mechanism that directly addresses geoengineering.

Without regulation, it would only take one country—watching its crops shrivel or its water run dry—taking a chance to set a global climate experiment in motion, potentially leading to conflict.

RAND researchers recently examined how to address this issue. The time to establish international agreements on geoengineering is now, they say, while the risks are still theoretical.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia,  June 1, 2021, photo by U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh/Public Domain

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Geneva, Switzerland, January 10, 2022

Photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

How NATO Could Help Ease the Ukraine-Russia Impasse

This week's talks in Geneva revealed an issue at the heart of the Russia-Ukraine crisis: Ukraine's NATO membership. According to RAND's Samuel Charap, NATO may be able to clarify this issue and possibly avert a conflict. In exchange for a tangible drawdown of Russian forces, NATO could acknowledge that it has no plan to offer membership to Ukraine. “It concedes nothing to declare that NATO is not planning to do something it has no intention of doing anyway,” Charap says.

Corner Market cashier Effren Luckett (right) wears a mask while serving customers that don't always do the same in Jackson, Mississippi, October 26, 2021, photo by Barbara Gauntt/USA Today via Reuters

A cashier serving customers in Jackson, Mississippi, October 26, 2021

Photo by Barbara Gauntt/USA Today via Reuters

Debating Workers' Compensation During COVID-19

Working outside of the home during the pandemic significantly increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19. This not only threatens workers' personal and family health, but it may also result in high medical expenses and lost wages. Currently, states vary on whether or how they allow individuals to seek workers' compensation for a COVID-19 diagnosis. A new RAND paper outlines the important considerations for policymakers.

Insulin vial and stethoscope, photo by Samara Heisz/Getty Images

Photo by Samara Heisz/Getty Images

Biosimilar Drugs Could Save Billions

Biologics are complex drugs used to treat a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Biosimilars are comparable to already-approved biologics in terms of potency, safety, and efficacy, but they are manufactured by different companies. A new RAND study finds that using biosimilar drugs could save an estimated $38.4 billion from 2021 to 2025.

Airman Dalton Shank, 5th Bomb Wing public affairs specialist, reads pamphlets on the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., March 10, 2017, photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa Akers/National Guard

Airman Dalton Shank reads pamphlets on the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., March 10, 2017

Photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa Akers

How Do Education Benefits Support Veterans?

Millions of U.S. veterans rely on government funding for post-service education as they move into civilian life. The authors of a new RAND paper find that such benefits likely ease military-civilian transitions. But many questions remain, they say. That's why systematic data collection is needed to learn more about veterans who use these benefits, their experiences, and the long-term outcomes.

Jacqueline Burns, bottom right, with Ambassador Donald Booth, at an Internally Displaced Person camp in Darfur, Sudan, in 2016, over a map of Sudan, photo courtesy of Jacqueline Burns; images by oxygen and JeanUrsula/Getty Images; design by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

Jacqueline Burns is a senior policy analyst at RAND. In the inset photo, she is at an Internally Displaced Person camp in Darfur, Sudan, 2016

Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Burns; images by oxygen and JeanUrsula/Getty Images; design by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

Helping People Affected by Conflict: Q&A with RAND's Jacqueline Burns

Before she was a RAND researcher, Jacqueline Burns worked in the office of the U.S. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan—starting just before South Sudan slid into civil war. In a new Q&A, Burns discusses her experience there, what led her to RAND, and how it informs the work she does now. “I wanted to become a part of finding better solutions to these really complex questions of peace and security,” she said.

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