A TALE OF TWO PRESIDENTS

A TALE OF TWO PRESIDENTS

A century ago, Woodrow Wilson became the first US president to visit Great Britain. (Check out some amazing archival footage here.) According to the December 27, 1918 edition of The Guardian: “The plain citizen raising a tall hat in response to the cheers was the centre of all. When the cavalry escort came jingling out of the sanded courtyard at Charing Cross, preceding the carriage in which the President and King George sat side by side, a roar of cheers went up. It gathered volume all the way round the West End to the Palace.”


When President Trump arrived in the UK yesterday, the contrasts between the two men were evident. Wilson was an ascetic, professorial idealist, a man on a mission to persuade Europe that common values could provide a foundation for world governance, a League of Nations, to make the world safe for democracy. Trump is the tough-talking crown prince of conspicuous consumption, a confrontational man with a relentlessly transactional approach to all relationships.

The historical moments too are entirely different. Wilson arrived in a Britain exhausted by World War I, grateful it was over, and thankful for US help. This was also a Britain that hadn’t yet accepted the coming end of its empire. America was an upstart, a new player in European politics, a role many back home wouldn’t accept for another generation.

Trump, by contrast, leads the world’s sole superpower. His abrasive personal style aggravates allies, and he seems eager to unburden America of the responsibilities that come with a leadership role that US presidents have championed for decades. There was no inflatable Baby Wilson hovering above London’s streets in 1918, and Trump was not welcomed by ringing church bells and adoring crowds this week.

The US president can attack her Brexit policy and praise her rivals. Yet, Prime Minister Theresa May knows that personal opinions of Trump don’t alter the need to pursue her nation’s national interest. That means preserving the best possible relationship, even if only as an exercise in damage control as those who dislike Trump await his successor. If, as May says, post-Brexit Britain is to be a “truly global Britain,” good relations with the US will remain essential.

The bottom line: At a moment when the UK is departing the EU, and the Brexit process became uglier and riskier just this week, the US-UK partnership remains vitally important for Britain, its economy, and its security. Whatever the chemistry between the two leaders and whatever the mood of the moment, that hasn’t changed in 100 years.

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

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Listen: In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer, Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert assesses the current state of the climate crisis and answers a simple question: how screwed are we? And as the climate continues to warm at a record pace, she unpacks some of the more extreme climate solutions that some increasingly desperate nations are starting to consider. Such measures may sound like stuff of science fiction (see: injecting sulfur particles into the atmosphere or shooting millions of tiny orbital mirrors into outer space) as times become more desperate, their appeal is growing. Can we fix the planet the same way we broke it?

China is making its neighbors nervous these days. Chinese fighter jets are screaming into Taiwan's airspace. Hundreds of armed Chinese "fishing boats" are plying the disputed waters of the South China Sea. And Beijing is slashing imports from some trading partners because of disputes over political issues.

To push back against this increasingly aggressive behavior, regional powers Japan, India, and Australia, together with the US, are boosting cooperation via a 17-year-old grouping called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or simply "The Quad." But how effectively can these four countries really work together to counter China? Eurasia Group's Peter Mumford discusses the Quad's future.

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Want to tackle climate change? If so you'll have to reach out to China, which is currently responsible for over a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions. Beijing will certainly take your call, as climate is a huge priority for President Xi Jinping.

Xi has promised that China will go "net zero" — meaning its carbon emissions will be offset by equal amounts of either natural or tech-driven carbon capture — by 2060. Is a decade later than most of the top 10 polluting countries fast enough for the rest of the world? It is for the Chinese, who want to help but have their own ideas about how.

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When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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Can "the Quad" constrain China?

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