The Prisoner's Dilemma - By John Maynard Smith
In environmental studies the prisoner’s dilemma is evident in crises such as global climate change. It is argued all countries will benefit from a stable climate, but any single country is often hesitant to curb CO2 emissions. The immediate benefit to an individual country to maintain current behavior is perceived to be greater than the purported eventual benefit to all countries if behavior was changed, therefore explaining the current impasse concerning climate change.
An important difference between climate change politics and the prisoner's dilemma is uncertainty. The pace at which pollution will change climate is not known precisely. The dilemma faced by government is therefore different from the prisoner's dilemma in that the payoffs of cooperation are largely unknown. This difference suggests states will cooperate much less than in a real iterated prisoner's dilemma, so that the probability of avoiding a climate catastrophe is much smaller than that suggested by a game-theoretical analysis of the situation using a real iterated prisoner's dilemma.