Inequality denial: Déjà vu all over again

When Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century was published this spring, it became an unlikely bestseller—bringing some much-needed research and rigor to the debate about global inequality. As its profile grew, the book prompted many thoughtful reviews and responses and sparked conversations everywhere from Twitter to cable TV. And then the backlash began, with pundits attacking Piketty’s footnotes as a means of discrediting his larger argument.

In a provocative op-ed in Quartz, Ford Foundation president Darren Walker explains what these inequality deniers have in common with climate change skeptics—and why we can’t afford to look away from the reality of both problems. “Given that inequality and climate change are two of the most significant challenges to humanity in this century, it is critical we see the debates surrounding them for what they truly are: enormous struggles over power and possibility,“ he writes.

Published in Quartz | June 16, 2014
You know Piketty is onto something when everyone’s trying to prove him wrong


During the last several weeks, Thomas Piketty’s magisterial Capital in the Twenty-First Century has earned great protestation on the heels of great praise. As the hits keep coming, I am reminded of the experience of another courageous, insightful truth-teller: Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose work the Rockefeller Foundation supported when I served there for much of the 2000s.

Many will remember that Pachauri and the IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president Al Gore. Earlier that year, the panel’s so-called Fourth Assessment Report was the very first to demonstrate “unequivocally,” in its phrasing, that human activity is warming our world with worsening consequences.

And yet, by 2010 a number of pundits had taken to the talk shows and opinion pages—from the Financial Times to the New York Times—calling for his resignation.

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In this short clip from Meet the Press, Darren Walker talks about the parallels between inequality and climate change.

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