economics | May 27, 2015

The Carbon Bubble and Superpower: New Books by Jeff Rubin and Ian Bremmer

Jeff Rubin and Ian Bremmer, two of our powerhouse economics and politics speakers, both have new books out this month. Rubin, who is also the bestselling author of Why Your World is About To Get a Whole Lot Smaller and The End of Growth, is back with The Carbon Bubble, a look at Canada's national economic future—and the financial security of all Canadians. Bremmer, who is the creator of Wall Street's first global political risk index and author of Every Nation for Itself and The End of the Free Market, returns with Superpower, a deep look at what sort of country America should be and how it should use its superpower status.

Praise for The Carbon Bubble:

"[Rubin] lay[s] out a solid case that in a carbon-constrained world, Canada, and particularly Alberta, would be foolhardy to pin its economic hopes on a high-cost, emissions-intensive source of crude."—Globe and Mail

Praise for Superpower:

"This book provides a clear and incisive way to think about America’s role in the world. Should it focus on its interests, its values, or its domestic needs? Bremmer offers his own opinions, but more important, he will help you sharpen your own."—Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs

More about both books:

The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts

Since 2006 and the election of the 1st Harper government, the vision of Canada's future as an energy superpower has driven the political agenda, as well as the fast-paced development of Alberta's oil sands and the push for more pipelines across the country to bring that bitumen to market. Anyone who objects is labeled a dreamer, or worse—an environmentalist: someone who puts the health of the planet ahead of the economic survival of their neighbours.

In The Carbon Bubble, Jeff Rubin compellingly shows how Harper's economic vision for the country is dead wrong. Changes in energy markets in the US—where domestic production is booming while demand for oil is shrinking—are quickly turning Harper's dream into an economic nightmare. The same trade and investment ties to oil that pushed the Canadian dollar to record highs are now pulling it down, and the Toronto Stock Exchange, one of the most carbon-intensive stock indexes in the world—with over 25 percent market capitalization in oil and gas alone—will be increasingly exposed to the rest of the world's efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Rubin argues that there is a lifeline to a better future. The very climate change that will leave much of the country's carbon unburnable could at the same time make some of Canada's other resource assets more valuable: our water and our land. In tomorrow's economy, he argues, Canada won't be an energy superpower, but it has the makings of one of the world's great breadbaskets. And in the global climate that the world's carbon emissions are inexorably creating, food will soon be a lot more valuable than oil.

Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World

America will remain the world’s only superpower for the foreseeable future. But what sort of superpower? What role should America play in the world? What role do you want America to play?

Ian Bremmer argues that Washington’s directionless foreign policy has become prohibitively expensive and increasingly dangerous. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. policymakers have stumbled from crisis to crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine without a clear strategy. Ordinary Americans too often base their foreign policy choices on allegiance or opposition to the party in power. We can no longer afford this complacency, especially now that both parties are deeply divided about America’s role in the world. The next presidential election could easily pit an interventionist Democrat against an isolationist Republican—or the exact opposite.

Bremmer explores three options:

Independent America asserts that it’s time for America to declare independence from the responsibility to solve other people’s problems. Instead, Americans should lead by example—in part, by investing in the country’s vast untapped potential.

Moneyball America acknowledges that Washington can’t meet every international challenge. With a clear-eyed assessment of U.S. strengths and limitations, we must look beyond empty arguments over exceptionalism and American values. The priorities must be to focus on opportunities and to defend U.S. interests where they’re threatened.

Indispensable America argues that only America can defend the values on which global stability increasingly depends. In today’s interdependent, hyperconnected world, a turn inward would undermine America’s own security and prosperity. We will never live in a stable world while others are denied their most basic freedoms—from China to Russia to the Middle East and beyond.

There are sound arguments for and against each of these choices, but we must choose. Washington can no longer improvise a foreign policy without a lasting commitment to a coherent strategy.

As Bremmer notes, “When I began writing this book, I didn’t know which of these three choices I would favor. It’s easy to be swayed by pundits and politicians with a story to sell or an ax to grind. My attempt to make the most honest and forceful case I could make for each of these three arguments helped me understand what I believe and why I believe it. I hope it will do the same for you. I don’t ask you to agree with me. I ask only that you choose.”

To book Jeff Rubin or Ian Bremmer as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

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