Most people assume that there are two – and only two – sides in the debate. You either believe that the world is coming to an end unless we drastically cut carbon emissions now or you believe that there is no global warming at all – as if there is only black and white and nothing in between, like in chess.

Patrick Michaels, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and a member of the IPCC, is just one of many experts who believes that the truth lies somewhere in between the extremes.

Watch or listen to him debate his latest book, Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know, at the Cato Institute.

Also watch him talk at the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science at the United States House of Representatives.

And don’t miss his op-ed on “climategate” in the Wall Street Journal: How to Manufacture a Climate ConsensusThe East Anglia emails are just the tip of the iceberg. I should know.

Most Europeans and many Americans think so. But they don’t check the facts. The graph below compares GDP growth since 1991. The U.S. and the U.K. clearly outperformed France and Germany. (Source)

Watch or listen to a very informative and entertaining “Munk”-debate on this important question.

Munk Debates: Climate Change

The necon hawks want to cripple the Iranian economy with massive sanctions or even go to war. Most of their opponents prefer to simply ignore the realities in Tehran. Is there a better way? Can we avoid a terrible war without giving in to a brutal theocracy?

Watch and listen to a very informative debate between Jacqueline Shire, a senior analyst at the Institute for Science and International Security and well-known expert on Iran’s nuclear program, and Richard Parker, founder of the American Foreign Policy Project, at Bloggingheads.TV:

Worldwise: Iran and the Bomb

Also watch the video of a conference by the Cato Institute on How to Deal with Iran: Options for Today and for the Future

When poor, desperate and uneducated peasants or slum dwellers fall for authoritarian populists like Hugo Chavez, it’s a tragedy, because they have to pay a terrible price for it. But when Western intellectuals romanticise violent revolution without even trying to check the facts, it’s a shame.

Watch or listen to María Corina Machado, President of Súmate, a leading pro-democracy NGO, discuss the Failure of Social Policy in Venezuela at the Cato Institute.

Also watch this impressing PBS-Frontline documentary about the Hugo Chavez Show

Milton and Rose Friedman founded the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice to fight a public school system, which is run by government bureaucrats, school boards and teachers, and in which students and their parents have almost no way of holding them accountable.

Watch Milton Friedman explain why he believes that all students, but especially those from poor neighborhoods, would benefit from a school voucher system, which would break the government monopoly on education by empowering the parents:

Private Enterprise in Education

After decades of suffering under brutal Soviet occupation and no less brutal Taliban rule, the people of Afghanistan deserve freedom, dignity and prosperity. We should do all we can to help them build a stable democratic system and a modern market economy. But we need a serious debate about the right means to achieve these goals – and we need it now!

Watch these two equally impressive, informative and important documentaries about war and everday life in the graveyard of empires:

PBS-FRONTLINE: Obama’s War

Brave New Foundation: Rethink Afghanistan

Watch this impressive and uplifting documentary by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto and the Institute for Liberty and Democracy:

The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon

“A documentary of significance with findings from indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada and the Peruvian jungle.”

Watch John Mueller, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, talk about his book Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them at the Daily Show or C-Span.

There are so many myths and legends surrounding the collapse of communist totalitarianism, the nonviolent revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the development since then. What has really changed? And why? Are the people of the region really richer and freer today? And if so, how much?

The Cato Institute held a very informative half-day conference on these subjects featuring many reformers and experts. You can watch three videos of the panel discussions on their website, and if you are interested in the region, you should miss none of them! The keynote adress was given by Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic.

Freedom and Prosperity in Central and Eastern Europe
20 Years after the Collapse of Communism

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A major advance in humanity’s struggle for freedom, the collapse of communism has generally led to an increase in human well-being, with several ex-communist countries becoming free and prosperous. Yet the spread of liberty has been uneven. Many ex-communist countries lag behind and some have even reverted to political repression and economic dirigism.”

When governments are too small, they aren’t able to secure our basic rights. When they are too big, they become a drag to the economy. But what is the growth-optimising size of government? We are not sure. And the answer of course depends on what exactly government is doing. But most scientific studies have shown it is somewhere between 12% and 30% of GDP. Now another study by the bulgarian Institute for Market Economics comes to the conclusion that it is very likely to be under 25 %. This means that all OECD-governments are far too big. Even the richest societies could be much richer, had they stopped or at least slowed the growth of government in the last decades.

Here you can read the study. And here you can watch a short video about it.

But not the way most environmentalists want us to! Björn Lomborg, founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, an organisation which asks scientists to rank the world’s major problems and the possible solutions to them, has now asked dozens of experts and economists – among them three nobel laureates – to find a scientific answer to the question: “How can we best reduce suffering from global warming?” I will only say this much about the final results of their research: They are very likely to surprise you!

Watch Bjorn Lomborg explain the latest findings at Reason.TV

Watch Swedish writer Johan Norberg talk about his very accesible new book, Financial Fiasco: How America’s Infatuation with Homeownership and Easy Money Created the Economic Crisis, at the Cato Institute:

Cato Institute Book Forum – Financial Fiasco

ANNA J. SCHWARTZ, COAUTHOR, A MONETARY HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES:

“You don’t have to be an economist to gain a clear understanding of the diverse forces that produced the financial fiasco that Johan Norberg describes: lax monetary policy by the Federal Reserve System, overpromotion of homeownership by the government and government agencies, and transformation of the mortgage loan industry into an issuer of securities backed by a pool of mortgages of varying quality.”

Listen to two great and independent minds, Christopher Hitchens and Russ Roberts, talk about why Orwells Anti-Totalitarianism still matters.

Watch Larry Diamond, co-director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, explain why he believes it can at the New York Democracy Forum:

Larry Diamond – “Can the Whole World Become Democratic?”

Watch political scientist Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, explain why he is convinced that they do not hate us for what we ARE, bot for what we DO:

Conversations with History: Robert Pape

Watch this short documentary by Scott Kilman and Roger Thurow of the Wall Street Journal about Howard Buffett’s Crusade Against African Famine

“Warren Buffett’s son, Howard Buffett, takes on a surprising, little-known role on the front lines. Mr. Buffett travels from Ghana to Togo to Benin, trying to spread approaches to farming that he’s found successful on his Illinois farm.”

Let’s roll!

I don’t know, nobody does. But Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is convinced that he is pretty close to knowing. Watch him explain at the Ted Talks how mathematics and game theory can be used to predict the most likely outcome of a political power struggle like the one in Iran:

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita predicts Iran’s future

Let’s hope and pray that his computer is right about the bomb!

I am glad the Washington Post is so clear on this:

This Is For Real

“What’s happening on the streets of Tehran is a lesson in what makes history: It isn’t guns or secret police, in the end, but the willingness of hundreds of thousands of people to risk their lives to protest injustice. That is what overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979, and it is now shaking the mullahs. This is politics in the raw — unarmed people defying soldiers with guns — and it is the stuff of which revolutions are made. Whether it will succeed in Iran is impossible to predict, but already this movement has put an overconfident regime on the ropes.”

An Iranian student tries to put into words how this latest freedom movement started:

New York Times: A Different Iranian Revolution

“The truth is, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. The open-air parties that, for one week, turned Tehran at night into a large-scale civic disco, were an accident. People gathered by the tens of thousands in public squares, circling around one another on foot, on motorcycle, in their cars. They showed up around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and stayed together well into the next day, at least 3 or 4 in the morning, laughing, cheering, breaking off to debate, then returning to the fray. A girl hung off the edge of a car window “Dukes of Hazzard” style. Four boys parked their cars in a circle, the headlights illuminating an impromptu dance floor for them to show off their moves.
Everyone watched everyone else and we wondered how all of this could be happening. Who were all of these people? Where did they come from? These were the same people we pass by unknowingly every day. We saw one another, it feels, for the first time. Now in the second week, we continue to look at one another as we walk together, in marches and in silent gatherings, toward our common goal of having our vote respected. No one knew that it would come to this.”

…and there is only one way: you let them do it themselves! Watch Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto explain at the Heritage Foundation how we can integrate the poor into the world economy:

Is Economic Freedom For Everyone?

“Based on his groundbreaking research, renowned economist Hernando de Soto concludes that disorder and political instability, growing terrorist and criminal networks, and grinding poverty in many non-Western countries are due in large part to the fact that many of the world’s most fragile and dangerous states lack critical legal tools required to process information, identify opportunities, reduce risks, and bring people and assets together.”

Watch economist Alex Tabarrok explain at the TED Talks why he believes that “the best is yet to come” for our planet, if we only get a few things right:

How Ideas Trump Crisis

“The “dismal science” truly shines in this optimistic talk, as economist Alex Tabarrok argues free trade and globalization are shaping our once-divided world into a community of idea-sharing more healthy, happy and prosperous than anyone’s predictions.”

Watch Ted Galen Carpenter and Ian Vásquez of the Cato Institute explain why we should end the international War on Drugs as soon as possible:

Is It Time to End the International War on Drugs?

“Since President Nixon launched the War on Drugs in 1971, its escalating direct and indirect costs have become increasingly apparent. As we have seen over the decades in Colombia, Mexico, Afghanistan, and other drug-source countries, banning the drug trade creates economic distortions and an opportunity for some of the most unsavory elements to gain tenacious footholds. Drug prohibition inevitably leads to an orgy of corruption and violence.”

Watch economist William Bernstein talk at Google Talks about his fascinating and fact-filled book The Birth of Plenty – How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created, in which he explains why there was almost no growth at all until about 1820, when the world suddenly changed forever:

Authors@Google: William Bernstein

One of the most frightening and sadening realities in today’s Germany is how many people justify or downplay the crimes of the SED, the communist party which ruled Eastern Germany for decades.

Watch this touching documentary and confront those who deny or distort history:

Stasiland

Watch Steven Pinker speak about his book The Blank Slate – The Modern Denial of Human Nature, which I very highly recommend – it is the most informative, fascinating and convincing book on human nature I have ever read! -, at the MIT:

Walid Shoebat became a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as a young man, commited acts of terror and violence against Israelis and was imprisoned in an Israeli jail. Today he is an outspoken critic of any sort of antisemitism, antizionism, terrorism and religious extremism. Watch him speak at the University of California:

Confessions of a PLO Terrorist: Walid Shoebat