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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The World Needs More of the United States Leadership on Global Warming, or You Can Say Absolutely Anything in the Washington Post

The World Needs More of the United States Leadership on Global Warming, or You Can Say Absolutely Anything in the Washington Post

Sunday, 06 May 2012 07:25

Just when you thought that the Washington Post could not go any further in bringing its readers off-the-wall statements from self-imagined great thinkers, it rises to the occasion. Today we have Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, giving us "five myths about America's decline."

This short piece contains heaping doses of silliness. For example, Bremmer thinks China will be suffering because:

"the ratio of Chinese workers to retirees is around 6 to 1 today, but by 2040, that number is expected to shrink to 2 to 1." Fans of arithmetic know that this is not likely to pose a problem. Even with a substantial slowdown in the rate of productivity growth in China, the average worker is likely to be close to 4 times as productive in 2040 as they are today. This means that China will easily be able to accommodate substantial increases in living standards for both workers and retirees. In fact, the slowing of China's population growth will provide enormous environmental benefits to China and the world long into the future.

There are other quirky comments and confused assertions which I'll skip, but here's the money quote:

"Finally, imagine a world in which a poorer country such as China becomes the world’s largest economy. The Chinese government’s willingness to lead on issues such as climate change and nuclear non-proliferation would probably pale in comparison with the leadership America provides today — yet one more reason Beijing will not supplant Washington anytime soon."

Yes, that is an accurate quote. Bremmer thinks the world needs the United States' leadership in dealing with global warming.

Just in case you have not been able to get news for the last 15 years (stranded in Antarctica or on some Pacific island without Internet access), the United States has been the most important force blocking any action to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. The most progress the world has ever made in this area was when George W. Bush explicitly said that the United States was not interested in taking part in the Kyoto Agreement. This allowed the other wealthy countries to move forward with a plan involving binding caps on emissions. The world would do much better without the sort of "leadership" that the United States has been showing in this area. 

Comments (8)Add Comment
written by David, May 06, 2012 8:19
Maybe the timelines of two parallel universes became entangled (where in one such the US actually took the lead on global warming). Or maybe Bremmer doesn't keep up with domestic affairs?

One thing for sure, I won't invest in anything relying on analysis from his Eurasia Group.
written by Bart, May 06, 2012 11:15

Hey, but what about those spirally light bulbs?!
We need the Myth Busters to blow up the myth of a free and independant Press
written by Perplexed, May 06, 2012 11:17
Its time to stop pretending these institutions are performing the critical functions of free press in a democracy. Calling these organizations "Press" or "News" organizations is equivalent to calling subprime mortgages "AAA." We need to rename them to expose the vacuum left when these organizations displaced our actual free press.

Bill Moyers' show last weekend featured an excellent interview with Marty Kaplan from USC's Norman Lear Center that should stand as warning to all concerned about the plight of democracy in this entertainment age. We are trying to operate a democracy in the absence of being informed by a free and independent press so critical to its success. The kind of press needed to serve a democracy is nothing like the kind needed to raise profits for shareholders and advertisers. Neil Postman warned of this many years ago in his book "Amusing Ourselves to Death;" Kaplan does a superb job of describing just how it works and how dangerous it is. The show is called "Big Money, Big Media, Big Trouble" and can be seen here: http://billmoyers.com/episode/...g-trouble/

If you want to understand why our "Press" continues to systematically fall short of what's needed in a democracy, watch this clip.
written by PeonInChief, May 06, 2012 12:06
Could we all move to the parallel universe where the US takes the lead on global warming? I think it's better than the one we're in now.
written by John Miller, May 06, 2012 12:38
The US record on nuclear non-proliferation has, likewise, been less than stellar.
on ian bremmer
written by mel in oregon, May 07, 2012 5:25
interesting questions from scott horton to dr ian bremmer about bremmer's book on harper's website. course i disagreed with most of it, the same as i agree with cepr's critique of bremmer. again slowing population growth in china will help them a lot more than our growing population helps us. aside from those poor deluded souls that think we should "be fruitful & multiply" with an already over populated 7 billion; the only folks that support unlimited growth are those that make oodles of money from "development" such as real estate brokers, oil companies & of course the very worst entity, the chamber of commerce. anyone that thinks the united states leads when it comes to any environmental issue, believes the sun revolves around the earth, & that women should submit themselves to their husband's wishes & orders. sorry michelle bachmann. hopefully with the ascending chinese, they will do a better job as moral & environmental leader than we have. they could hardly do worse.
Where and Why
written by FoonTheElder, May 08, 2012 12:14
Where do our largest media outlets keep getting these clueless people from and why do they keep giving them a forum for their out of touch with reality comments.

All I can guess is that the reflect the views of their out of touch with reality ownership, seeing as they hire full time opinion writers with much the same opinions.
News media and choice of editorial comment
written by John Wright, May 09, 2012 9:11
Some months ago I corresponded with editor of the local paper about what I thought was a particularly bad Tom Friedman column published in the paper.

I gave past examples when Friedman was proven wrong such as the Iraq war and the Irish Miracle, and when Friedman is wrong from simple scaling considerations when he posits that American innovation will be a massive jobs engine for the USA unemployed.

In the course of the correspondence, I asked why the standard lineup of Friedman, Krauthammer, Cohen, Brooks are not replaced with others such as Dean Baker and Glenn Greenwald as they have some interesting views.

The editor's response was that he would forward my suggestions to the people that choose editorial content.

And the editorial content has not changed.

My guess is the choice of editorial writers is on a "what sells newspapers" basis.

Maybe what a cynical automotive writer mentioned years ago is true with all media. He suggested, "one should not forget that the editorial content is simply a filler between the ads" in auto magazines.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.