Ukraine shows uselessness of NATO nukes in Europe

Many people in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands wonder why there are still US tactical nuclear weapons on their soil. These B-61 nuclear gravity bombs were stationed in Europe during the Cold War to deter the Soviet threat, but while this may (or may not) have once made sense, most pundits nowadays agree that at least from a military point of view, the weapons are irrelevant. More

Editorial

Given the tremendous damage the we humans have already done to the Earth, our home planet, the use of nuclear weapons in a conflict would be beyond insane.

We have already gone a long way to poisoning our atmosphere, making our oceans, one of the major sources of food, so acidic that we may be at a tipping point that will wipe out the shellfish and crustaceans that compose a large part of the ocean food chain. Fish stocks are in many areas depleted leading the FAO to suggest banning commercial fishing in some areas of some oceans.

We also have to face global heating which may bring with it changing rainfall patterns, which may lead to water and food shortages. Many inhabitants of our world are already living on barely enough food and water to keep them alive. Furthermore, the planetary population is growing and heading for nine billion by mid-century. Experts are questioning whether or not we will be able to feed this many.

We have to keep in mind that we have only this small fragile planet. A planet in a backwater of our local galaxy. There are no inhabitable worlds to go to nor the transport to get there on. If we do not take care and preserve our world, which will take a global effort to accomplish, the human race may perish. Think of your children and family members,your friends and colleagues If we use nuclear weapons all will certainly perish.

Chernobyl and Fukushima and all the nuclear testing carried out by the UN's P5 have spread more than enough nuclear pollution through the planet. A nuclear conflict would seal our fate.

Pope Francis said recently, “Even today we raise our hand against our brother… We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death. Violence and war lead only to death”.

As H.H. 14th Dalai Lama said, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” Editor

 

 

 

Lebanon, Hezbollah Cut off from Iran

Juan Cole writes ‘With the alleged fall to the Islamic State of Iraq, and [in] Syria of Qa’im on Saturday, and of Talafar a few days ago, the border between Iraq and Syria has now been effectively erased.

A new country exists, stretching from the outskirts of Baghdad all the way to Aleppo.

The first thing that occurred to me on the fall of Qa’im is that Iran no longer has its land bridge to Lebanon. I suppose it could get much of the way there through Kurdish territory, but ISIS could ambush the convoys when they came into Arab Syria. Since Iran has expended a good deal of treasure and blood to keep Bashar al-Assad in power so as to maintain that land bridge, it surely will not easily accept being blocked by ISIS. Without Iranian shipments of rockets and other munitions, Lebanon’s Hizbullah would rapidly decline in importance, and south Lebanon would be open again to potential Israeli occupation. I’d say, we can expect a Shiite counter-strike to maintain the truck routes to Damascus.

He goes on to say ‘Syrian jets bombed eastern positions of ISIS near the Iraqi border, perhaps signalling a likely alliance of Damascus and Baghdad to put the Sunni radical genie back in the bottle’.

From a petro-political perspective I find myself asking the following questions;

  • What will be the reaction of Saudi Arabia with the Sunni forces in Iraq having both Damascus and Baghdad allied against them?
  • What will Iran now do to support Bashar al-Assad?
  • What will Iran do to keep their supply route to Hezbollah open?

The answer to these three questions will inform the price of oil going forward. According to Reuters Libya’s oil output has sunk back to a current 1.16 million barrels per day of oil due to disruption at fields and terminals, a senior industry source told stated on Tuesday. Iran put OPEC on notice of its plans to raise output swiftly with the help of foreign investors immediately after any lifting of sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran could increase oil exports by 500,000 barrels per day immediately after any lifting of sanctions. “Very quickly we can increase by half a million and after a couple of months we can increase it to 700,000 barrels per day,” he told reporters ahead of OPEC’s Wednesday meeting. He said Iran could pump 4 million bpd in less than three months after any lifting of restrictions. When sanctions may be lifted is the unknown factor.


For those of us living on Small Island Dveloping States (SIDS) and other states dependant on fossil fuel, the path towards alternative energy, i.e. solar, wind, OTEC and ocean current technologies looks more attractive with every passing day. Editor

Drought in Syria: a Major Cause of the Civil War?

Syria's devastating civil war that began in March 2011 has killed over 200,000 people, displaced at least 4.5 million, and created 3 million refugees.

Figure 1. The highest level of drought,
“Exceptional”, was affecting much of
Western Syria in April 2014, as measured
by the one-year Standardized Precipitation
Index (SPI).
Image credit: NOAA's Global Drought Portal

While the causes of the war are complex, a key contributing factor was the nation's devastating 2006 – 2011 drought, one of the worst in the nation's history, according to new research accepted for publication in the journal Weather, Climate, and Society by water resources expert Dr. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute. The drought brought the Fertile Crescent's lowest 4-year rainfall amounts since 1940, and Syria's most severe set of crop failures in recorded history. The worst drought-affected regions were eastern Syria, northern Iraq, and Iran, the major grain-growing areas of the northern Fertile Crescent. In a press release that accompanied the release of the new paper, Dr. Gleick said that as a result of the drought, “the decrease in water availability, water mismanagement, agricultural failures, and related economic deterioration contributed to population dislocations and the migration of rural communities to nearby cities. These factors further contributed to urban unemployment, economic dislocations, food insecurity for more than a million people, and subsequent social unrest.”

More

Climate change will ‘cost world far more than estimated’

Lord Stern, the world’s most authoritative climate economist, has issued a stark warning that the financial damage caused by global warming will be considerably greater than current models predict.

This makes it more important than ever to take urgent and drastic action to curb climate change by reducing carbon emissions, he argues.

Lord Stern, who wrote a hugely influential review on the financial implications of climate change in 2006, says the economic models that have been used to calculate the fiscal fallout from climate change are woefully inadequate and severely underestimate the scale of the threat.

As a result, even the recent and hugely authoritative series of reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are significantly flawed, he said.

“It is extremely important to understand the severe limitations of standard economic models, such as those cited in the IPCC report, which have made assumptions that simply do not reflect current knowledge about climate change and its … impacts on the economy,” said Lord Stern, a professor at the Grantham Institute, a research centre at the London School of Economics.

Professor Stern and his colleague Dr Simon Dietz will today publish the peer-reviewed findings of their research into climate change economic modelling in the The Economic Journal.

Their review is highly critical of established economic models which, among other things, fail to acknowledge the full breadth of climate change’s likely impact on the economy and are predicated on assumptions about global warming’s effect on output that are “without scientific foundation”.

Professor Stern, whose earlier research said it is far cheaper to tackle climate change now than in the future, added: “I hope our paper will prompt … economists to strive for much better models [and] … help policy-makers and the public recognise the immensity of the potential risks of unmanaged climate change.”

“Models that assume catastrophic damages are not possible fail to take account of the magnitude of the issues and the implications of the science,” he said.

Professor Stern and Dr Dietz say their findings strengthen the case for strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and imply that, unless this happens, living standards could even start to decline later this century.

For the study, they modified key features of the “dynamic integrated climate-economy” (Dice) model, initially devised by William Nordhaus in the 1990s. The changes take into account the latest scientific findings and some of the uncertainties about the major risks of climate change that are usually omitted.

The standard Dice model has been used in a wide range of economic studies of the potential impacts of climate change, some of which have been cited in the most recent IPCC report which has been released in three parts over the past nine months.

Dr Dietz said: “While this standard economic model has been useful for economists who estimate the potential impacts of climate change, our paper shows some major improvements are needed before it can reflect the extent of the risks indicated by the science.”

Dr Dietz said his aim was to show how a new version of the model could produce a range of results that are much more representative of the science and economics of climate change, taking into account the uncertainties.

“The new version of this standard economic model, for instance, suggests that the risks from climate change are bigger than portrayed by previous economic models and therefore strengthens the case for strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases,” he said.

The new model differs in that it considers a wider temperature range when estimating the impact of doubling the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases – a measure of “climate sensitivity”.

Whereas the standard model usually assumes a single temperature for climate sensitivity of about 3C, the new model uses a range of 1.5C to 6C, which the authors say more accurately reflects the scientific consensus.

The standard model also “implausibly” suggests a loss of global output of 50 per cent would only result after a rise in global average temperature of 18C, even though such warming would likely render the Earth uninhabitable for most species, including humans, Dr Dietz contends.

The new model includes the possibility that such damage could occur at much lower levels of global warming. Standard economic models rule out the possibility that global warming of 5-6C above pre-industrial levels could cause catastrophic damages, even though such temperatures have not occurred on Earth for tens of millions of years. Such an assertion, he says, is without scientific foundation and embodies a false assumption that the risks are known, with great confidence, to be small.

The new model also takes into account that climate change can damage not just economic output, but productivity. The standard model assumes that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere only affect economic growth in a very limited way, according to Dr Dietz. More

 

 

Iraq oil shock would kill world economic recovery, experts warn

As I have been warning people about for a number of years: Potential oil price spike in Middle East; What could this do to the Cayman Islands?

Open warfare between the government and rebels in Iraq would pose a threat to the global economic recovery should oil production from the war-torn Middle East state suffer a serious disruption, analysts have warned.

As violence threatens Iraq’s oil industry, experts fear crude at $130 per barrel would damage the global economy

Open warfare between the government and rebels in Iraq would pose a threat to the global economic recovery should oil production from the war-torn Middle East state suffer a serious disruption, analysts have warned.

Brent oil prices climbed as high as $110.25 (£65.59) on Wednesday amid concerns that 3.5m barrels per day of Iraqi exports could be knocked out of the market by the violence that has seen al-Qaeda forces seize control of Mosul, Tikrit and Samarra.

“The worst case scenario is that we see production from Iraq slip down to levels in the last Gulf war, then oil could spike $20 a barrel very quickly,” Ole Hansen, vice-president and head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank told The Telegraph. “In that scenario, the entire economic recovery, which is still fragile, could stall and we could even slip back into recession in some regions.”

Iraq’s oil minister, Abdul Kareem Luaibi, who was attending a gathering of the 12-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in Vienna on Wednesday, tried to ease concerns by stressing that most of the country’s crude was pumped from fields in the Shia-Muslim dominated South, where export facilities are “very, very safe”.

Despite the deteriorating political situation in Iraq, where government forces have been seen fleeing from the Sunni-Muslim al-Qaeda insurgents, Opec decided to leave its production quotas unchanged. The cartel limits the output of its members to 30m barrels per day (bpd) of crude, roughly a third of the world’s supply.

However, the group’s ability to react to shocks to the oil market is limited, with Saudi Arabia the only producer with enough spare production capacity to cover any shortfalls. Riyadh maintains about 12.5m barrles per day (bpd) of production capacity, with 2.5m bpd – three-times Britain’s output from the North Sea – lying idle at any one time.

Although Saudi’s oil officials told reporters in Vienna on Wednesday that the kingdom and Opec could compensate for any Iraqi shortfalls, oil traders remain concerned.

In a note to Bloomberg, Helima Croft, Barclays’ head of North American commodities research, said: “The shocking escalation in violence in Iraq raises the prospect of potential output losses. It comes as other key producers, like Libya, have also seen exports ‘evaporate’ amid rising unrest.”

Helped by investment from international oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Lukoil, Iraq has increased its importance in the world oil market since recovering from the 2003 war.

The opening of the giant West Qurna-2 oilfield near Basra in March would allow Iraq to pump 4m bpd by the end of the year. Already the second-largest producer in Opec after Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters, Iraq has pumped an average of 3.5m bpd since the beginning of the year.

UK oil companies working in Iraq are understood to be closely monitoring the situation but at this point have no plans to withdraw workers from their fields.

Brent oil prices climbed as high as $110.25 (£65.59) on Wednesday amid concerns that 3.5m barrels per day of Iraqi exports could be knocked out of the market by the violence that has seen al-Qaeda forces seize control of Mosul, Tikrit and Samarra.

“The worst case scenario is that we see production from Iraq slip down to levels in the last Gulf war, then oil could spike $20 a barrel very quickly,” Ole Hansen, vice-president and head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank told The Telegraph. “In that scenario, the entire economic recovery, which is still fragile, could stall and we could even slip back into recession in some regions.”

Iraq’s oil minister, Abdul Kareem Luaibi, who was attending a gathering of the 12-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in Vienna on Wednesday, tried to ease concerns by stressing that most of the country’s crude was pumped from fields in the Shia-Muslim dominated South, where export facilities are “very, very safe”.

Despite the deteriorating political situation in Iraq, where government forces have been seen fleeing from the Sunni-Muslim al-Qaeda insurgents, Opec decided to leave its production quotas unchanged. The cartel limits the output of its members to 30m barrels per day (bpd) of crude, roughly a third of the world’s supply.

However, the group’s ability to react to shocks to the oil market is limited, with Saudi Arabia the only producer with enough spare production capacity to cover any shortfalls. Riyadh maintains about 12.5m barrles per day (bpd) of production capacity, with 2.5m bpd – three-times Britain’s output from the North Sea – lying idle at any one time.

Although Saudi’s oil officials told reporters in Vienna on Wednesday that the kingdom and Opec could compensate for any Iraqi shortfalls, oil traders remain concerned.

In a note to Bloomberg, Helima Croft, Barclays’ head of North American commodities research, said: “The shocking escalation in violence in Iraq raises the prospect of potential output losses. It comes as other key producers, like Libya, have also seen exports ‘evaporate’ amid rising unrest.”

Helped by investment from international oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Lukoil, Iraq has increased its importance in the world oil market since recovering from the 2003 war.

The opening of the giant West Qurna-2 oilfield near Basra in March would allow Iraq to pump 4m bpd by the end of the year. Already the second-largest producer in Opec after Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters, Iraq has pumped an average of 3.5m bpd since the beginning of the year.

UK oil companies working in Iraq are understood to be closely monitoring the situation but at this point have no plans to withdraw workers from their fields. More

Furthermore, if the insurgencies drag Iran into the fray will Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) be tempted to respond on the side of the Wahabi / Salafi axis? Remember that KSA recently spent 60 Billion or armaments. Where may any of this leave the Cayman Islands? Editor

 

Surviving the 21st Century

Surviving the 21st Century


Published on May 28, 2014 • Professor Noam Chomsky Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology addressed this question of global significance in a special Durham Castle Lecture on 22nd May.