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Futurama

Author: Jagdish N. Bhagwati, Senior Fellow for International Economics
February 5, 2013
Daily Beast

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The two Democratic leaders who have recently earned, for their achievements, the Nobel Prize for Peace, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, are international icons. Carter introduced human rights into American foreign policy; Gore took up the cause of global warming. (President Obama, of course, also received a Nobel but can hardly be said to have earned it.)

The career trajectories of the two have been very different. Carter had the advantage of having been the president. Carter therefore had political success on his CV. But Gore, a man of exceptional talent, had failure on his; and that surely lit the fire under him for overarching success in some other way. So while Carter continued working for human rights, as in his bold writings on the Middle East peace process, and even went so far as to build huts for the poor in Central America, Gore chose a different career path, deciding to think and write big.

He surely succeeded beyond his wildest expectations as the author of An Inconvenient Truth. But his phenomenal success had little to do with science (which has remained somewhat controversial: many of us remember for instance the not-too-distant scare about global cooling, also from climate scientists) and much to do with the photographs of polar bears caught on drifting ice as glaciers melted. An image like that is what we all need when we push our pet agendas. Alas, none of us is so fortunate. Nor is Gore as he turns now to writing about our future.

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