In an Economist.com debate on population growth
between John Seager
of Population Connection and Michael Lind
of the New America Foundation, Seager argues that rapid population growth is “the source of many of the world’s—especially the poor world’s—woes,” as it accelerates environmental degradation and “undermines both security and development.” On the other hand, Lind counters that “countries are not poor because they have too many people,” and asserts that “technology and increased efficiency have refuted what looks like imminent resource exhaustion.”
In Foreign Policy, David J. Rothkopf contends that actions to mitigate climate change—though necessary to avoid very serious consequences—could subsequently spur trade wars, destabilize petro-states, and exacerbate conflict over water and newly important mineral resources (including lithium).
The International Crisis Group (ICG) reports that “the exploitation of oil has contributed greatly to the deterioration of governance in Chad and to a succession of rebellions and political crises” since construction of the World Bank-financed Chad-Cameroon pipeline was completed in 2003. Chad must reform its management of oil resources in order to avoid further impoverishment and destabilization, ICG advises.
The Royal Society and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME)—both based in the United Kingdom—released independent reports on geoengineering the climate. While calling reduction of greenhouse gas emissions “the safest and most predictable method of moderating climate change,” the Royal Society recommends that governments and international experts look into three techniques with the most potential: CO2 capture from ambient air, enhanced weathering, and land use and afforestation. The IME identified artificial trees, algae-coated buildings, and reflective buildings as the most promising alternatives. “Geo-engineering is no silver bullet, it just buys us time,” IME’s Tim Fox told the Guardian.
In “Securing America’s Future: Enhancing Our National Security by Reducing Oil Dependence and Environmental Damage,” the Center for American Progress (CAP) argues that unless the United States switches to other fuels, it “will become more invested in the volatile Middle East, more dependent on corrupt and unsavory regimes, and more involved with politically unstable countries. In fact, it may be forced to choose between maintaining an effective foreign policy or a consistent energy supply.”
The Chinese government is “drawing up plans to prohibit or restrict exports of rare earth metals that are produced only in China and play a vital role in cutting edge technology, from hybrid cars and catalytic converters, to superconductors, and precision-guided weapons,” The Telegraph relates. The move could send other countries scrambling to find replacement sources.
In studying the vulnerability of South Africa’s agricultural sector to climate change, the International Food Policy Research Institute finds that “the regions most vulnerable to climate change and variability also have a higher capacity to adapt to climate change…[and that] vulnerability to climate change and variability is intrinsically linked with social and economic development.” South African policymakers must “integrate adaptation measures into sustainable development strategies,” the group explains.