Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Conflict over resources could reemerge"


"Aging populations in the developed world; growing energy, food, and water constraints; and worries about climate change will limit and diminish what will still be an historically unprecedented age of prosperity.


In terms of size, speed, and directional flow, the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way — roughly from West to East — is without precedent in modern history. [...] First, increases in oil and commodity prices have generated windfall profits for the Gulf states and Russia. [...] If current trends persist, by 2025 China will have the world’s second largest economy and will be a leading military power. It also could be the largest importer of natural resources and the biggest polluter.


Resource issues will gain prominence on the international agenda. Unprecedented global economic growth—positive in so many other regards—will continue to put pressure on a number of highly strategic resources, including energy, food, and water, and demand is projected to outstrip easily available supplies over the next decade or so. [...] Lack of access to stable supplies of water is reaching critical proportions, particularly for agricultural purposes, and the problem will worsen because of rapid urbanization worldwide and the roughly 1.2 billion persons to be added over the next 20 years. [...] Climate change is expected to exacerbate resource scarcities. Although the impact of climate change will vary by region, a number of regions will begin to suffer harmful effects, particularly water scarcity and loss of agricultural production. [...] Agricultural losses are expected to mount with substantial impacts forecast by most economists by late this century.


Types of conflict we have not seen for awhile — such as over resources — could reemerge. Perceptions of energy scarcity will drive countries to take actions to assure their future access to energy supplies. In the worst case, this could result in interstate conflicts if government leaders deem assured access to energy resources, for example, to be essential for maintaining domestic stability and the survival of their regimes. However, even actions short of war will have important geopolitical consequences. Maritime security concerns are providing a rationale for naval buildups and modernization efforts, such as China’s and India’s development of blue-water naval capabilities. The buildup of regional naval capabilities could lead to increased tensions, rivalries, and counterbalancing moves but it also will create opportunities for multinational cooperation in protecting critical sea lanes. With water becoming more scarce in Asia and the Middle East, cooperation to manage changing water resources is likely to become more difficult within and between states.

And that's just from the summary. Chapters 4: Scarcity in the Midst of Plenty? and 5: Growing Potential for Conflict no doubt has plenty more for Ecowar. The report appears rather US centric and conservative though.

Also see...
BBC / US Global Trends report: Key points
Global Trends 2025, a new report written by the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) ahead of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, envisages a future world marked by diminished US power, dwindling resources, and more people.

The NIC, an independent government body, emphasises that its report is not about "crystal-ball gazing" but offers a range of potential futures, including the following key trends.

Blog "Tragedy of the Commons" / Global Trends 2025
Reports like these really cause me concern. This is not some crazy doomer on a wacko peak oil message board. This is a consensus of top American Intelligence Community officials.

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