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Ed Webb

Petro-aggression: How Russia's oil makes war more likely - 0 views

  • A Russian natural gas embargo is a trick that can probably only be pulled once (not unlike the 1973 oil embargo).  So in a sense, European dependence on Russian energy does not imply short-term vulnerability – except that European policymakers’ perceptions of vulnerability can become its own reality.
  • Russia’s resource curse.  Russia’s energy revenues (from both oil and gas) have ensconced Vladimir Putin as an autocrat and given him a free hand in foreign policy.  Russia is so heavily dependent on its energy revenues that it is a classic petrostate, making it more susceptible to corruption, autocracy and violent conflict.
  • Russia’s incursion into Crimea can be seen as a close cousin of petro-aggression.  A state is more likely to instigate international conflict when it has a combination of (a) oil income and (b) a leader with aggressive preferences.  A lot more likely: 250 percent more military conflict than a typical non-petrostate, on average.  Oil income means more military spending, increasing the state’s scope for potential conflicts.  Even more importantly, it distorts the domestic politics of the state, reducing the leader’s domestic political risk from military adventurism and aggressive foreign policy.
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  • Here lies the real risk of Europe’s energy situation: So long as it continues to buy Russian oil and gas, it is sending massive amounts of cash to a neighboring dictator.  By keeping the taps on, Putin consolidates his power as Russian dictator.
  • Diversifying away from fossil fuels would bring security benefits (in addition to some obvious environmental ones), in part by reducing the money sent to petrostates like Russia.
Ed Webb

Simon Dalby, 400ppm: Anthropocene Geopolitics | Society and Space - Environment and Pla... - 1 views

  • Humanity is remaking the biosphere; producing the new natures in which the human future will play out. Hence the now widespread use of the term Anthropocene for the period of planetary history in which the dominant ecological force is humanity, or more precisely, fossil fueled industrial capitalist humanity.
  • Natural environments are no longer in any meaningful sense the given context for human existence; they are being remade by land use changes, urbanization and by both technologies and species moved and recombined in numerous artificial assemblages. Atlases with their designations of planetary biomes frequently need replacement with a dynamic cartography charting the changing “anthromes” that are the new terrestrial ecological patterns that matter.
  • Globalization now has to be understood as a process of material transformation quite as much as a matter of trade, culture and politics crossing frontiers. The processes whereby business decisions are made to produce particular products by using certain technologies is key to understanding the future of the planet; economic geography has become essential to geomorphology.
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  • The Westphalian political imaginary of separate competing territorial states is a spatial arrangement singularly unsuited to the collective tasks ahead, but it is the institutional context within which we have to act.
Ed Webb

NASA - NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East - 1 views

  • during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs
  • "GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. "The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws."
  • the Iraqi government drilled about 1,000 wells in response to the 2007 drought, a number that does not include the numerous private wells landowners also very likely drilled
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  • "The Middle East just does not have that much water to begin with, and it's a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change," said Famiglietti. "Those dry areas are getting dryer. The Middle East and the world's other arid regions need to manage available water resources as best they can."
Ed Webb

Saudi Arabia's Energy Crisis | Arabia, the Gulf, and the GCC Blog - 0 views

  • consuming more and more of its precious petroleum resources, and within a decade may have to begin cutting back on its oil exports to the rest of the world
  • In a recent report entitled, “Burning to Keep Cool: The Hidden Energy Crisis in Saudi Arabia,” Chatham House researchers Glada Lahn and Prof. Paul Stevens said unchecked growth in energy consumption in Saudi Arabia was a “cause for international concern.” If it continues at its present rate, this would threaten the Kingdom’s ability to stabilize world oil markets.
  • Saudi crude export capacity would fall by about 3 million bpd to under 7 million bpd by 2028 unless domestic energy demand growth is checked
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  • Saudi Arabia hopes to buy itself some time with major energy conservation efforts. Saudi Aramco is pursuing an initiative in cooperation with the Kingdom’s utilities and business sector to generate massive energy savings on as rapid a timetable as possible. This initiative includes moves into renewable power sources like solar and wind, plus efforts to slash energy waste and duplication and create a business culture sensitive to energy efficiency
  • Saudi Arabia currently relies on oil revenues for about 80 percent of its government spending
  • Plans to add renewable power would help maintain fiscal balance for another two or three years, but that’s all
  • Chatham House believes “huge economic, social and environmental gains from energy conservation are possible in Saudi Arabia” but it cautions that the longstanding Saudi tradition of low energy prices and the Kingdom’s sluggish bureaucracy pose “challenges” to implementing needed pricing and regulatory reforms.
  • Saudi Arabia is aiming to generate about 10 percent of its power needs from solar energy by the year 2020
Ed Webb

Muftah » New World Water: Egypt's Problem of De-Nile - 0 views

  • Fewer than a thousand miles south of the Egyptian city of Aswan, Ethiopia has begun construction on what is to be the largest hydroelectric dam in East Africa, aptly named the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The ensuing consequences, according to Egypt, would make the Revolution of 2011 a mere blip in the country’s history by comparison. While the dam is unmistakably a massive undertaking, is Egypt simply wringing its hands in overly sensitive histrionics, or is its livelihood genuinely at stake?
  • recent history has shown that the technology exists to allow for the responsible construction of non-environmentally damning infrastructure, while ensuring the flow of water downstream, as seen in transregional bodies of water like the Amazon, the Niger River, and the Mississippi. Yet in this case,  reconciliation remains elusive.
Ed Webb

Disaster in the North: 40 dead as fire rages across Carmel Mountains - Haaretz Daily Ne... - 0 views

  • "We lost all control of the fire," said the Haifa firefighting services spokesman on Thursday. "There aren't enough firefighting resources in Israel in order to put out the fire," he said.

  • the massive blaze which has already burned down at least 7,000 dunams of natural forest.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday requested the help of the U.S., as well as Greece, Italy, Russia, and Cyprus to send additional forces to aid in putting out the huge brushfire that was still raging in northern Israel.
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    This disaster is in part due to the prolongued drought and unseasonable heat afflicting Israel and its neighbors.
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