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Geopolitics - Jan 7

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Oil price rises on Gaza conflict

BBC
The price of oil has risen briefly on fears of heightened tension in the Middle East following Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

US light, sweet crude peaked at $48.68 a barrel, before falling back to trade at $46.44, up 10 cents on the day.

The price of Brent crude was down one cent at $46.90 a barrel.

Opec sources have said that is is highly unlikely that the oil producers' cartel will follow Iran's call to boycott supporters of Israel.

Among Opec's biggest producers are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, all of which have good relations with the United States.

An Iranian military commander had suggested earlier that oil supplies should be withheld to put pressure on Israel's allies.
(5 January 2009)



Australia: Defence warns of climate conflict

Jonathan Pearlman and Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald
RISING sea levels could lead to failed states across the Pacific and require extra naval deployments to deal with increases in illegal migration and fishing, a Defence Force analysis says.

"Environmental stress" has increased the risk of conflicts over resources and food and may demand greater involvement by the military in stabilisation, reconstruction and disaster relief, the analysis, prepared by Defence's strategic policy division, says.

It warns there is a risk of a serious global conflict over the Arctic as melting icecaps allow easier access to undersea oil and gas deposits.
(7 January 2009)



Brace for 'Climate Wars'
(Gwynne Dyer interview)
Sarah Buchanan, The Tyee
"I do not have enough faith in human nature that we're going to get there, on time, with no hiccups."

So says Gwynne Dyer, the author of Climate Wars, who wastes no time in revealing that things are really, really bad.

Scientists have been telling us this fact for decades, but somewhere along the line, it became totally okay to ignore them. With this era coming to an end, however, the military and scientific communities can finally agree in public that the climate is warming much faster than we ever expected, and we need to act as quickly as possibly -- preferably 10 years ago.

Our first clue that things are going pear-shaped is the fact that Dyer, a journalist and academic specializing in war and conflict, has even touched the issue. This is not a book about the environment; it is a book about the potential of conflict and nuclear war erupting because of the environment.

The huge price of delay

Dyer has combined a close reading of military and scientific scenarios, and created his own projections of what the world might look like in 2019, 2029, 2045, and so forth, depending on different courses of action we choose.

... In an effort to spark quick action, Dyer maps out the effects of warming on the planet, both environmentally and politically.

"There's a sequence to it," he explained in a recent interview. "The first big impacts are on food. The second impacts are on human relations -- collapsed states, refugees fleeing war and starvation -- at this point it won't be possible to cooperate on an international level to cut emissions.

The third impact will be on sea levels, which will rise (but likely not until near the end of this century), and if things progress even further, you could see the oceans going completely anoxic."

It reads a bit like a sci-fi novel. A decimated human population huddles around the poles while the ocean starts to bubble with sulphur (this is also known as a Canfield ocean). But when I met with Dyer last month in Vancouver, he insisted his scenarios were not the extreme brain farts of a creative writer, but in fact carefully controlled and realistic possibilities.
(6 January 2009)

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