Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.
Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.
As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.
Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.
<p><strong>Trade. </strong>Although Donald Trump loves to do US trade policy by <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/presidential-documents/executive-orders/donald-trump/2020" target="_blank">executive order</a>, these only work for a few months because the real power to approve international treaties lies in the Senate. Trump <a href="https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/us-china-phase-one-trade-deal-whats-next" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">skirted</a> the process with phase one of the <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-us-and-china-strike-a-deal" target="_self">US-China trade agreement</a> by calling it a "contract" rather than a treaty, but negotiated Democratic support to ratify the <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/goodbye-nafta-hello-usmca" target="_self">USMCA trade deal</a> replacing NAFTA (as Joe Biden will need to win over some Republicans to <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/international/455668-biden-i-would-renegotiate-pacific-trade-deal" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">renegotiate</a> the Trans-Pacific Partnership if he becomes president).</p><p><strong>Immigration.</strong> The White House can do a lot on immigration bypassing Congress, like Trump's notorious <a href="https://www.axios.com/trump-muslim-travel-ban-immigration-6ce8554f-05bd-467b-b3c2-ea4876f7773a.html" target="_blank">travel ban</a> on people from several majority-Muslim countries. However, only the Senate can pass a long-overdue <a href="https://www.migrationpolicy.org/topics/comprehensive-immigration-reform" target="_blank">comprehensive immigration reform</a>, which affects recipient countries of highly coveted H1-B visas like <a href="https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/us-president-donald-trump-signs-order-against-hiring-h1b-visa-holders-for-federal-contracts-2273665" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">India</a>, or many Latin American nations where US immigrants benefit from <a href="https://immigrationforum.org/article/fact-sheet-family-based-immigration/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">family-based</a> green card sponsorship. The current law on the books — which Democrats and Republicans largely agree is <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/why-americas-immigration-system-is-broken/593143/" target="_blank">broken</a> — remains unchanged since <a href="https://www.vox.com/2014/9/3/18080710/immigration-immigrants-reform-us" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">1986</a>... due to lack of bipartisan consensus on how to fix it.</p><p><strong>Arms deals, climate change.</strong> The next president will also need Senate consent for other international agreements that are crucial to US foreign policy. To name just two, it's unclear whether a Democratic majority will greenlight <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-uks-second-wave-uae-us-eye-arms-deal-chinas-plans-for-tibet" target="_self">selling</a> F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, while a Republican-controlled Senate would likely (try to) block a future Biden administration from <a href="https://theconversation.com/under-biden-the-us-would-no-longer-be-a-climate-pariah-and-that-leaves-scott-morrison-exposed-144870" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">rejoining</a> the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.</p><p><strong>Regardless of who wins the Senate,</strong> if the same party controls both it and the White House, expect a raft of potentially divisive partisan legislation. If Trump and the Republicans hold court, his wish list of hardline policies on trade and immigration would expand. On the other hand, if the Democrats win the presidency and the Senate, buckle up for sweeping changes like <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/14/joe-biden-2020-filibuster-360587" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">removing the filibuster</a><u>, </u><a href="https://thehill.com/latino/517921-hopes-for-dc-puerto-rico-statehood-rise" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">increasing the number of states</a>, and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/19/us/politics/what-is-court-packing.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">packing the Supreme Court</a> (especially if its latest <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/supreme-court-vacancy-turns-us-election-on-its-head" target="_blank">vacancy</a> is filled by November 3).<u></u></p><p>If different parties control the White House and the Senate, today's deeply polarized US political environment will likely lead to a stalemate. With hyper partisanship discouraging <em>any</em> laws being passed, it'll be all up to the courts.</p>
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September 25, 2020
In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.
September 25, 2020
GZERO Media caught up with Japan's Permanent Representative to the UN Kimihiro Ishikane during the 2020 UN General Assembly. In an interview with Eurasia Group Vice Chairman Gerald Butts, Ishikane talked about pandemic response, and how it has impacted the broader picture of US-China relations. Regarding a global fissure potentially caused by the world's two biggest economies, Ishikane said: "China is not like the former Soviet Union. Our system is completely intertwined, and I don't think we can completely decouple our economy and neither is that desirable." He also discussed the legacy of Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, who stepped down recently due to health complications.
September 25, 2020
The world's two biggest economic powers threaten to create a "big rupture" in geopolitics, but "we are not there yet," UN Secretary-General António Guterres tells Ian Bremmer. In an interview for GZERO World, the leader of the world's best-known multilateral organization discusses the risks involved as the US and China grow further apart on key issues.
Watch the episode: UN Secretary-General António Guterres: Why we still need the United Nations