(Roughly) Daily

“The use of alternative energy is inevitable”*…

Mining for coltan–essential to the modern electronics that make alternative energy possible– in North Kivu, Congo, September 2013

Contemplating the unintended– or at least not-yet-widely-anticipated– consequences of a move to green energy…

It is not hard to understand why people dream of a future defined by clean energy. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and as extreme weather events become more frequent and harmful, the current efforts to move beyond fossil fuels appear woefully inadequate. Adding to the frustration, the geopolitics of oil and gas are alive and well—and as fraught as ever. Europe is in the throes of a full-fledged energy crisis, with staggering electricity prices forcing businesses across the continent to shutter and energy firms to declare bankruptcy, positioning Russian President Vladimir Putin to take advantage of his neighbors’ struggles by leveraging his country’s natural gas reserves. In September, blackouts reportedly led Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to instruct his country’s state-owned energy companies to secure supplies for winter at any cost. And as oil prices surge above $80 per barrel, the United States and other energy-hungry countries are pleading with major producers, including Saudi Arabia, to ramp up their output, giving Riyadh more clout in a newly tense relationship and suggesting the limits of Washington’s energy “independence.”

Proponents of clean energy hope (and sometimes promise) that in addition to mitigating climate change, the energy transition will help make tensions over energy resources a thing of the past. It is true that clean energy will transform geopolitics—just not necessarily in the ways many of its champions expect. The transition will reconfigure many elements of international politics that have shaped the global system since at least World War II, significantly affecting the sources of national power, the process of globalization, relations among the great powers, and the ongoing economic convergence of developed countries and developing ones. The process will be messy at best. And far from fostering comity and cooperation, it will likely produce new forms of competition and confrontation long before a new, more copacetic geopolitics takes shape…

The new geopolitics of energy: “Green Upheaval,” by Jason Bodoff (@JasonBordoff) and Meghan L. O’Sullivan (@OSullivanMeghan) in @ForeignAffairs.

See also: “The Geopolitics of Energy in the 21st Century.”

Gawdat Bahgat

###

As we think systemically, we might recall that it was on this date in 1925 that Arthur Heineman opened the Milestone Mo-Tel in San Luis Obispo (on the road from San Francisco to Los Angeles)… the first “motel.” Heineman had abbreviated motor hotel to mo-tel after he could not fit the words “Milestone Motor Hotel” on his rooftop.

source

%d bloggers like this: