Both in Europe and America the press tends to be more progressive, or leftist, than the rest of the population. In America, conservatives have been very good at mounting a counterattack on the liberal media, but the liberal media still has the upper hand. The country votes republican, the media overall is democratic. Why is this the case? To me this is simply a function of income. Start giving journalists investment banking salaries and they would certainly write more conservative articles! As it is they make very little money, and empathize with other people who do as well.
Here is my first contribution to Freakonomics. It relates to gasoline prices. I was recently in the States and read articles, one that emphasized that while in America consumers were very concerned about the rise in the price of gasoline, in Europe people were less worried. In the article there were many unusual theories as to why this may be the case.
Americans believe that the Chinese Comunist Party promotes piracy of American movies. I used to share that view until I met a Chinese friend of mine, who is a member of the Chinese Comunist Party (yes, and I also have friends who work for the Bush administration!). He gave me a very different view. My friend told me that the Chinese Comunist Party would love to succesfully combat piracy not to help Hollywood but to prevent America from conquering the minds and hearts of the average Chinese. American movies and TV shows, he argues, are incredibly efficient at making most Chinese like America, and if there was no piracy, few Chinese could afford to see them. So comunists and hollywood lawyers, UNITE!
As hurricanes continue to cause tremendous destruction and death and, as evidence piles up showing that increase in hurricane strength is a function of rising surface water temperature, global warming is becoming our worse nightmare. But until last week I used to think that SUVs and Americans passion for 68F air conditioned rooms were by far the greatest carbon criminals. They are not alone. The internet it turns out may soon be as bad. Working on the internet and having started companies like Ya.com I would take comfort thinking that we operated a clean industry. But this is hardly the case. Over the last month I became aware of two related activities that I thought were energy irrelevant are actually energy hogs. They are thinking and computing.
The Clinton Global Initiative is a medium size conference with around 800 people. Davos for example has around 3000 people. The Aspen Brainstorm, still the best conference I ever attended, 300 people. I would venture to say the CGI has managed to attain the perfect conference size. Still, they are not managing people well. At this conference there´s a remarkable gathering of people, many of whom have something to say but are not getting the chance. In this, Davos is more efficient. In my view it is better to have more sessions, more choices. Here there are around 10 sessions per day for 800 people. At Davos there are 60 sessions a day for 3000 people. So at Davos they have 4 times the number of people but 6 times the number of sessions. Sessions here are too large and don´t give an opportunity to the very smart people who attend to contribute and interact as much. Also having more sessions is an opportunity for people who attend the conference over the internet, through bloggers or through the press, to go directly to the topics of interest to them. These places are like Congress – many times speeches are made for the whole country and not necessarily for other members of Congress. Ideally though, you don´t want long and uninterrupted speeches, you want instead small sessions where speakers to shift from propaganda mode to a more honest Q&A session.
There´s another problem in the CGI format and that is that people are supposed to stay on the same tables throughout the day. I didn´t. I changed. You come to conferences like this to interact briefly with people who seem interesting to you so you can deepen the relationship outside of the conference. CGI´s system connects you too much with people at your table and little with anyone else. So, I switched tables so I could go to three tables in one day and cover a bit more ground.
Here are some pictures from the conference that give a sense of the gathering.
Last night a resolution to reform the UN was passed. Key issues are: Human Rights, Responsibility to protect and Intervention. Rwanda was used as a prime example. Annan expressed great pleasure in the passing of the reformation. He also received much praise from Clinton, which he reciprocated on the organizing of the Clinton Global Initiative. Challenges require collective action. You cannot have development without security and you cannot have security without development… and you can´t have either without respect for human rights.
Al Gore spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative. His main argument was that Hurricane Katrina proved two things: firstly, that global warming is creating stronger storms; secondly, that government has an essential role to play in preventing and/or alleviating these types of tragedies. Al Gore spoke with tremendous emotion, uncharacteristic of him during his candidacy. How he has transformed! He says that the United States is to blame not only for being the greatest polluter of the planet but for being the country doing the least to change. He is asking for a transformation of the American Economy. He believes that Katrina is the first taste from a bitter cup that will be forced to taste from again, and again and again. He urges the US Government to act. He says that this is a legitimate and necessary role for the government to assume.
Notes on the session of Technology Opportunities in the Area of preventing climate change