Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times on the myths of Davos The hotels of Davos, Switzerland, are again filling up with economists, businessmen, politicians, and other "thought leaders" right about now. The 2013 World Economic Forum begins tonight, and Andrew Ross Sorkin reminds us to be skeptical about the big ideas emerging from this international summit. "If you're looking to the Alps for the wisdom of crowds, the wisdom of this crowd of the global elite may not be the most accurate," he writes, recalling Bill Gates' 2003 prediction that Google would be a flash in the pan and French finance minister Christine Lagarde's 2011 insight that the euro zone could only improve. "In 2008, the futurists and technology forecasters Peter Schwartz, a co-founder of the Global Business Network, and Paul Saffo of Stanford University declared that they expected the publication of newspapers to end by 2014," Sorkin writes about his own line of work. "Luckily, the prediction track record in Davos isn’t great."
Elizabeth Economy in The Diplomat on polluted Chinese water According to some research, around 20 percent of China's rivers are so polluted that coming in contact with them would be toxic. The smog in Beijing might make for better slideshows, but Elizabeth Economy writes that we should perhaps be more concerned about water pollution in China. "On top of whatever polluted wastewater might be leaching or simply dumped into China’s rivers from ... factories, the Ministry of Supervision reports that there are almost 1,700 water pollution accidents annually," Economy writes. "The total cost in terms of human life: 60,000 premature deaths annually. While the macro picture is concerning, even more worrying is that individual Chinese don’t know whether their water is safe to drink or not."