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The accelerating pace and expanding scope of modem industrialization and technological development have created commensurately dynamic challenges for the international legal system. This article identifies and analyzes one such challenge, herein referred to as the "Box H problem," that uniquely combines the three elements of irreversibility, universality, and time-lag between action and effect. This novel conjunction of variables renders past norms obsolete, leaves traditional decision-making processes inappropriate, and warrants new legal conclusions. The challenge obtains because such problems will first be recognized and understood, if at all, only in countries with superior scientific resources. While traditional international norms would encourage patience and multilateral cooperation, historical analysis suggests that measures to achieve action through cooperation alone will prove inherently cumbersome and inadequate as a means of addressing Box H problems; with respect to the three elements, delayed action is the functional equivalent of inaction and actively cultivates crises. In the end, such a circumstance may require unilateral action.

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