Global Warming and Geopolitics

There is no doubt that humans are transforming the atmosphere. It is impossible to explain away the fact that burning fossil fuels and deforestation result in the considerable increase of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere. The planet is getting warmer and the oceans are becoming more acidic directly as a result of human activities. Further complications are shifting rainfall patterns, and more severe storms.

A secondary consequence of global warming is political instability. Some scientists have suggested that the “Arab spring”, the uprising in North Africa and the Middle East, was driven at least partially by food instability.

Arab Spring

Arab Spring

The cost of a loaf of bread rose steeply following a severe heat wave and drought in Russia in 2011. The political instability in the region has give radical groups such as Al Qaeda a wedge to further disrupt society and gain power.

Bangladesh, with a population of over one hundred-fifty million, depends on glacial melt in the Himalayas for fresh water much of the year. As glaciers recede, the slow metered flow of melt water changes from a somewhat constant flow to major rivers to alternating flooding torrents and droughts.

bangladesh

bangladesh

Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that much of region is at or near sea level. The combination of droughts, floods, and salinity from sea level rise could cause famine, driving the predominately Muslim population into predominantly Hindu India. Ethnic conflict would be likely.

The newest country in the world, South Sudan, came about after years of civil war in Northern Africa. The region has been stressed by an extended drought. Sudan is currently constructing a pair of dams on the Nile. Nearby Ethiopia is also constructing a dam on the upper Nile,

nile

nile

which has greatly increased political tensions with Egypt downstream. Filling the lakes behind these dams could take years and severely reduce the flow in the Nile downstream. Again the strife in the region is driven in part by a long term climate change in the form of droughts.

The loss of sea ice at the North Pole could also be a political game changer. Asian countries, principally china, are actively developing fleets of cargo ships designed to sail the polar regions, and will increase if not solidify their hegemony over international trade.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies recently commissioned a study by the National Research Council. The conclusion: climate change presents even more risk in an already unstable world. Not only is the pentagon studying the mitigation of global warming, they are also studying the relationship between climate, climate change, and political strife.

2 thoughts on “Global Warming and Geopolitics

  1. Hogeye Bill

    Could you do a piece about thorium nuclear tech? Here some info:

    Is Thorium the Solution?

    The USEmpire and client States claim to be worried about Iran’s nuclear power industry. Did you know that nuclear reactors based on thorium rather than uranium would drastically reduce the possibility of proliferation of nuclear weapons by-products? Unlike uranium, thorium breeds little or no bomb-making material.

    So if Iran simply switched to thorium-based nuclear technology, like China and India are starting to do, the whole ‘terrorists getting bomb-making materials’ problem pretty much disappears. There are already companies such as Lightbridge, which design and sell nuclear fuel rods based on thorium that can be used in most existing nuclear plants.

    To top it off, thorium reactors are MUCH safer than the old uranium tech – the chance of meltdown is practically nil (since it needs fissile to react, and takes a much higher temperature to melt,) it is less radioactive than uranium, there is little or no nuclear waste (sustainable reactors,) and thorium is more plentiful and cheaper than uranium.

    Actually, early nuclear scientists favored thorium over uranium, it being so much safer, but the US in the midst of the Cold War chose to subsidize uranium because they WANTED more weapons grade byproducts! Neo-Lysenkoism writ large – politics perverts science.

    Thorium links:
    http://www.energyfromthorium.com
    http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/160131-thorium-nuclear-reactor-trial-begins-could-provide-cleaner-safer-almost-waste-free-energy
    http://www.troymedia.com/2013/08/08/thorium-a-safer-cheaper-option-to-uranium-for-nuclear-power/
    http://www.npr.org/2012/05/04/152026805/is-thorium-a-magic-bullet-for-our-energy-problems
    http://www.ltbridge.com
    http://thepiratebay.sx/torrent/7333619/Superfuel_Thorium_The_Green_Energy_Source

    Reply
    1. bob Post author

      Sure and maybe I will but from what I’ve read so far anything I write would not be nearly so complimentary. A lot of thorium cycle reactor stuff is hype which ignores several realities. Thorium is not inherently fissile, therefore you need enriched U or Pu to initiate a self sustaining fission reaction. That means reprocessing fuel, and that means trouble – Ask Kerr-McGee about their plant near Edmond OK.

      The thorium cycle relies on breeding U-233, which is certainly suitable for bomb making.

      Finally, we just don’t need nuclear – Wind, Solar and Geothermal can and hopefully will provide all the power the world needs.

      Reply

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