Pledging to leave the audience "10 percent less crazy" about the state of American politics than when they entered the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, political analyst and author Ian Bremmer closed out this year's Ringling College Library Association Town Hall lecture series on Thursday.
Bremmer is the president and founder of the Eurasia Group, a global "political risk" research and consulting firm, and comments frequently on happenings around the globe. On Thursday, he prowled the stage with the energy and wisecracks of a stand-up comedian, delving into what he sees as the major forces driving political events today: income inequality, a widespread distrust of elites, immigration, Russia's attempts to disrupt other nations, China's expanding sphere of influence and climate change. Throughout, he emphasized that many Americans (allies and opponents alike) focus too much on the actions of President Donald Trump, and that it is the broader forces he discussed that drive much of the conflict in the world today.
When asked what effect climate change will have on the movements of people around the globe, Bremmer argued that the hardest hit area will be equatorial Africa, where "unlivable" summers and other extreme climate conditions may lead to "unprecedented amounts of human movement." Those migrants, he predicted, will likely head north, to Europe, as Syrian refugees have done in recent years. "It's really great to live in the Western Hemisphere," he said. "It's really great to have Canada and Mexico and two big bodies of water as your neighbors. We are much more insulated than most of the other countries in the world."
In addition to Bremmer's talk, Thursday featured the announcement of next year's Town Hall lineup, which includes Trump's former chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly; travel author and television host Rick Steves; former U.S. Ambassador Wendy Sherman; Sam Quinones, a journalist who has covered the opioid epidemic; neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova; and legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz. Subscriptions to next year's series will go on sale in the coming months. Check it out. It might just leave you a little less crazy, too.