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Line graph of beer consumption in Canada and the US

Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Canadians are cutting back, eh?

If “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” then public health officials in Canada have strayed from the path of righteousness. Earlier this year, Canadian health authorities changed their recommendations on alcohol consumption to just two drinks a week for healthy adults.

In the United States, George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, set off a right-wing media firestorm in August when he said that the Department of Agriculture could follow Ottawa’s lead.

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A chart comparing life expectancy in the US with the rest of the G-7 countries.

Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: No country for old men

US life expectancy has declined two years in a row, meaning that babies born today are expected to live about 2.5 years less than those born in 2019, according to the CDC. Americans on average will now kick the bucket at 76, the lowest age in the 21st century — and more than six years earlier than the rest of the G-7.

The biggest contributor to Americans’ shortening life spans is drug overdoses, especially from fentanyl. The pandemic — and the mental health crisis that ran alongside it — is also to blame. The US saw more COVID deaths than other G-7 nations, while fatalities from suicide and alcohol-induced liver failure skyrocketed. Many of these deaths were of young people, which has a compounded effect on the national average.

While COVID took a toll on life expectancy across the G-7, all but the US rebounded after the first year. The US knocked off a whopping 1.3 years in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 and has continued to slide. The speed of America’s decline marks the biggest two-year drop in life expectancy since 1921.

The common wisdom is that wealthier countries should enjoy higher life expectancies than poorer ones, as they have the resources to invest in healthcare and better standards of living. This rings true for the rest of the G-7, which have a combined average life expectancy of 83 years old. But the US — the only G-7 country without free national healthcare — has lagged behind throughout the 21st century, plateauing at 78 in 2008 while fellow G-7 nations continued to climb.

We compare US life expectancy to the G-7 average (minus America) since 2000.

Does alcohol help bring the world together?
Ian Bremmer Explains: Does Alcohol Help Bring the World Together? | GZERO World

Does alcohol help bring the world together?

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer takes a look at the yin and the yang of alcohol's role in high-level diplomacy and society at large. Alcohol can bring people together just as easily as it can tear them apart. From a 1995 Clinton/Yeltsin Summit where a drunk Yeltsin almost derailed Bosnian peace talks, to Obama's Beer Summit and the recent G7 Summit, booze plays a part in how world leaders interact. Globally, alcohol consumption has been steadily increasing, by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to one report. . Low and middle-income nations like Vietnam, India, and China are a driving force behind that trend, with drinking in Southeast Asia rising by over 34 percent between 2010 and 2017. And yet, amidst this global booze boom, the world has only grown more and more divided.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Does alcohol help or harm society?
Does Alcohol Help or Harm Society? | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Does alcohol help or harm society?

University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland says drinking makes us feel good and has historically encouraged socializing. But there are negative implications, as well. We now have the problem of "distillation and isolation": getting as much booze as you want and drinking alone, especially during the pandemic. There's a gender issue too: the "bro culture" associated with alcohol can exclude and even be dangerous for women. Not all regions have the same problems, though, as drinking habits vary widely. Watch Slingerland's interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

How booze made us...civilized
How Booze Made Us... Civilized | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

How booze made us...civilized

Did beer come before bread? Perhaps, says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland, who credits alcohol with spurring humankind's first agricultural revolution thousands of years ago. "Our drive to get intoxicated is what caused us to create civilization," he explains, adding that booze provided a "tool for helping us to cope with all the challenges of living in civilized societies." Find out more from Slingerland about the history of alcohol in the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

The (political) power of alcohol
The Political Power of Alcohol | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

The (political) power of alcohol

Alcohol. It's a dangerous drug that has ruined countless lives and derailed many a global summit. But it's also humanity's oldest social lubricant, a magical elixir that can fuel diplomatic breakthroughs, well into the wee hours of the night. As Winston Churchill once quipped, "I've taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." On GZERO World, we take a deep dive down the bottle and examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Also: since alcohol isn't the only social drug, a look at the state of marijuana legalization across the US and around the world.

How booze helps get diplomacy done
How Booze Helps Get Diplomacy Done | GZERO World

How booze helps get diplomacy done

Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

New liquor ban in KL ignites debate

November 26, 2020 5:00 AM

A new rule banning the sale of liquor at certain types of grocers in Kuala Lumpur from next year has ignited a debate on the liberties and rights enjoyed by non-Muslims, who make up more than one-third of Malaysia's population.

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