Category Archives: resource wars

Romney’s energy plan follows the money

Energy analyst Chris Nelder reviews Mitt Romney’s energy plan and finds nothing but an oil and gas industry wish list.” (Source:

How the fossil fuel industry won the energy narrative war and is now buying the next US President.. Get ready for more resource wars and climate collapse.

“… Romney received nearly $10 million from the oil and gas industry just this week. Romney’s chief energy adviser is shale oil baron Harold Hamm, one of his top super PAC donors, who stands to benefit handsomely if Romney takes the reins. Oil and gas employees and their families are the sixth-largest source of donations to the Republican National Committee, as Jim Snyder and Kasia Klimasinska reported for Bloomberg today, and the industry as a whole is the tenth-largest contributor to the Romney campaign. The fossil-fuel tycoon Koch brothers alone have personally contributed over $60 million to Romney’s campaign.”

New report: Arctic Opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North

“Rapid and disruptive change in the Arctic environment presents uneven prospects for investment and economic development. All across the Arctic, changes in climate will create new vulnerabilities for infrastructure and present new design challenges."

Excellent new report on the challenges in the Arctic by UK think tank Chatham House.

Read the full paper.

A Quixotic Quest to Mine Asteroids

A new company backed by two Google billionaires Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, film director James Cameron and other space exploration proponents is aiming high in the hunt for natural resources—with mining asteroids the possible target.” (Source: Wall Street Journal)

Running out of resources on Planet Earth? Let’s get them from space. Apparently James Cameron has never seen his own movie Avatar :)

Land security: the next big sustainability challenge?

"As human population continues to grow, and more space is needed to grow the commodities demanded, ‘land’ is quickly becoming the nexus that holds all these trade-offs together and, we believe, will fundamentally challenge the environmental and climate agendas in the next few decades."  

This new report published by the Earth Security Initiative is a call to action for investors and political leaders to put the land security issue high on the corporate and political agenda.  
Read the full report.

The Fight of the Century | or the return of class war

As the world economy crashes against debt and resource limits, more and more countries are responding by attempting to salvage what are actually their most expendable features—corrupt, insolvent banks and bloated militaries—while leaving the majority of their people to languish in “austerity.” The result, predictably, is a global uprising. This current set of conditions and responses will lead, sooner or later, to social as well as economic upheaval—and a collapse of the support infrastructure on which billions depend for their very survival.”  

Nothing less than brilliant longer essay by Richard Heinberg of how the world is heading for class war revolution with political and economic elites trying to shield their constituencies from the coming collapse and the need for resistance and decentralisation.

A few remarkable quotes from this hard-hitting analysis:

The decentralized provision of basic necessities is not likely to flow from a utopian vision of a perfect or even improved society (as have some social movements of the past). It will emerge instead from iterative human responses to a daunting and worsening set of environmental and economic problems, and it will in many instances be impeded and opposed by politicians, bankers, and industrialists. It is this contest between traditional power elites on one hand, and growing masses of disenfranchised poor and formerly middle-class people attempting to provide the necessities of life for themselves in the context of a shrinking economy, that is shaping up to be the fight of the century.”

“General economic contraction has arguably already begun in Europe and the US. The signs are everywhere. High unemployment levels, declining energy consumption, and jittery markets herald what some bearish financial analysts describe as a “greater depression” perhaps lasting until mid-century (see, for example, George Soros’s comments in a recent Newsweek interview). But even that stark assessment misses the true dimensions of the crisis because it focuses only on its financial and social manifestations while ignoring its energy and ecological basis.”

“movements to support localization—however benign their motives—may be perceived as a threat by national authorities. This is all the more likely as the Occupy movement organizes popular resistance to traditional power elites.

Where national governments see local citizens’ demands for greater autonomy as menacing, the response could include surveillance, denial of public assembly, infiltration of protest organizations, militarization of the police, the development of an increasing array of non-lethal weapons for use against protesters, the adoption of laws that abrogate the rights to trial and evidentiary hearings, torture, and the deployment of death squads.”

Playing with fire: Obama’s risky oil threat to China

Michael Klare, author of the insightful book "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet" warns that the Obama administration is trying to contain Chinese power in the Asian Pacific.   (Source: Energy Bulletin)

"When it comes to China policy, is the Obama administration leaping from the frying pan directly into the fire? In an attempt to turn the page on two disastrous wars in the Greater Middle East, it may have just launched a new Cold War in Asia — once again, viewing oil as the key to global supremacy."

Sustainability alerts 15 July

Rumble in the energy jungle: the Russian-Georgian August war

In the cacophony of the new Cold War rhetoric, it is hard to grasp the real geopolitical significance of the August “warlet” between Georgia and the new Russian petro-empire. But some analysts have hit the nail on the head: this was not a war for freedom and democracy but a return to the future of coming global wars over control of natural resources (in this case oil and gas pipelines).

In yesterday’s Guardian, emeritus professor John Gray dismisses the idea of a new cold war and exposes the “folly of the progressive fairytale“:

“… Nothing is more misguided than talk of a new cold war. What we are seeing is the end of the post cold war era, and a renewal of geopolitical conflicts of the sort that occurred during the late 19th century. Their minds befogged by fashionable nonsense about globalisation, western leaders believe liberal democracy is spreading unstoppably. The reality is continuing political diversity. Republics, empires, liberal and illiberal democracies, and a wide variety of authoritarian regimes will be with us for the foreseeable future. Globalisation is nothing more than the industrialisation of the planet, and increasing resource nationalism is an integral part of the process. (So is accelerating climate change, but that’s another story.) As industrialisation spreads, countries that control natural resources use these resources to advance their strategic objectives. In deploying energy as a weapon Russia is not resisting globalisation but exploiting its contradictions”.

To understand the real reasons behind the Cold War fever following the August war, one can find no better article than Michael Klare’s essay “Putin’s ruthless gambit“. In this detailed analysis of the background of the conflict, energy and security expert Klare writes the following:

To fully grasp the recent upheavals in the Caucasus, it is necessary to view the conflict as but a minor skirmish in a far more significant geopolitical struggle between Moscow and Washington over the energy riches of the Caspian Sea basin — with former Russian President (now Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin emerging as the reigning Grand Master of geostrategic chess and the Bush team turning out to be middling amateurs, at best.

The ultimate prize in this contest is control over the flow of oil and natural gas from the energy-rich Caspian basin to eager markets in Europe and Asia. According to the most recent tally by oil giant BP, the Caspian’s leading energy producers, all former “socialist republics” of the Soviet Union — notably Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — together possess approximately 48 billion barrels in proven oil reserves (roughly equivalent to those left in the U.S. and Canada) and 268 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (essentially equivalent to what Saudi Arabia possesses).”

EU’s ‘soft power’ unprepared for resource conflicts

The EU is unprepared for future conflicts over energy resources, according to a new report written for the meeting of EU leaders on 13-14 March. The report, seen by the Guardian, predicts that global warming might lead to energy wars, mass migration, failed states and political radicalisation. The report highlights the “scramble” over natural resources from the thawing Arctic region as a potential new conflict area with Russia.

This is not the first report looking at the security aspects of the climate crisis. In April 2007, a group of eleven retired US admirals and generals published a report underlining the risks of global warming and energy insecurity for America’s national security.

NATO leaders meeting in Bucharest in April will also discuss this issue.

The Oxford Research Group published an excellent overview of the national security dimension of global warming in January 2008.

Will Arctic become the new Middle East?

The news that Russia has planted its national flag on one of the oil-and-gas-rich areas of the Arctic received lots of coverage in the media and the blogs yesterday. Ironically, thanks to global warming, prospecting and potential exploration of the Arctic has become much more attractive to the countries surrounding the polar area and is likely to lead to serious power struggles in the next few years.

Good news coverage of the story can be found in the Telegraph. The TerraDaily blog has a good complementary article.

American Law professor Eric Posner presents an interesting US perspective on the issue in the Wall Street Journal. He recommends the US and Canada (who now are at loggerheads over the Arctic NorthWest passage) to become allies against the Russian claims. His conclusion: “If the U.S. supports Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage, in return for some sort of guarantee of U.S. military and civilian access, the two countries will strengthen their position vis-à-vis Russia. As the world heats up, the two countries need to prepare themselves for the re-emergence of old rivalries, and in the battle over control of the Arctic, the U.S. and Canada are natural allies.”

A more gloomy view can be found on the Fourth Wordl War blog: “the Arctic is likely to be the setting for the true world war between the superpowers, as they battle to secure the vast energy and mineral reserves still trapped beneath the ice”. If someone thinks this is just some alarmist blogger trying to get attention, he/she should read an enlightening article posted on the Wired blog in June 2007 which explains how the Pentagon is preparing for polar military operations.


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