ENVIRONMENT: INTERNATIONAL ISSUES, COOPERATION, ACCORDS
from

Global Issues of the Twenty-First Century
and United Nations Challenges
A GUIDE TO FACTS AND VIEWS ON MAJOR OR FUTURE TRENDS

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by Christopher Spencer
Former Senior Advisor International Organizations,
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Updated: 08 OCT 11


Virginia D. Abernethy, Population Politics: The Choices that Shape Our Future(New York: Insight Books 93):-an influential source, frequently cited for its study of human incentives. It takes now widely-held view that developing an informed motivation to lower fertility rates(e.g. perception of limited resources)must often precede active use of contraceptives. It also makes radical proposal: total US immigration ban.[In fact, current migration from poor to rich countries barely affects demographic pressures or trends, although short-distance, large-scale movements (such as from Bangladesh to Assam)can have local impact.] G. Pascal Zachary, "An Unconventional Academic Sounds Population Alarm" in Wall Street Journal 31 Jul 98, reports that Abernethy opposed most aid to poor countries since, contrary to "demographic transition" theory(that fertility falls as living standards rise), prosperity increases fertility.[Most experts probably feel that while" transition" is much more complex than once thought, perceiving its complete reversal would:(1)confuse some immediate, with major long-term, effects of rising living standards (low OECD fertility);(2)ignore many other factors, e.g. female education; women's choice; cultural imperatives.]

 

Patricia Adams and Grainne Ryder, "China's Great Leap Backward: Uneconomic and Outdated, the Three Gorges Dam Will Stunt China's Economic Growth" International Journal Vol.LIII/No.4(Autumn 98):-fear of global warming produced above all by fossil fuels' carbon dioxide caused real concern about China's vast impact as world's largest producer/consumer of coal, worst fossil fuel CO2 source. Yet large hydroelectric dams also produced great environmental damage, and Three Gorges Dam will be largest in world. Hence article argues Dam hydro-generation should be replaced by "either combined cycle gas turbines or cogeneration [which] would reduce CO2 emissions by more than 60%" (694). (Explanation in article.)Unfortunately, case is made with such CO2 focus that critical purpose of dam "flood-control" is ignored. See massive global threat from flooding: Economist 11 Mar 00(op.cit.).

 

Shardul Agrawala and Steinar Andresen, "Indispensability and Indefensibility? The United States in the Climate Treaty Negotiations" Global Governance Vol.5/No.4(Oct/Dec 99):-insightful essay not only relevant to most critical environmental issue facing global community(Grubb 99 op.cit); helps explain both sudden changes or galling intransigence in US positions on variety multilateral questions(for UN: Lyons op.cit.).Recalls major US environment statements, policies and positions, and shows them surprisingly erratic even under same president. Then identifies powers and interests of many forces and often key individuals within US administrations, Congress, industry, public opinion and dedicated pressure groupsthat influenced environmental policy, and shows how their interplay affected or determined volatile orstubborn US position on climate change at various times.

 

Chris Anderson"The Young(stressing Youth and Age”)The Economist 23 Dec 00(Survey 1-16):-explorescauses/ elements/global impact of major social trend, strong in North America, spreading through advanced/emerging societies and already changing poorer countries(Japan, Germany, China)." About...growing influence of young adults in world, and especially working world...thanks to convergence of forces that play to youth's strength -from technology to...pace of change to...tearing down of traditional...order. [T]hey are...first young who are both in position to change world, and are actually doing so. [Y]oung people increasingly make own environment, thanks to shift in power that gives them opportunity, responsibility and tools once reserved for their elders" .Rapid, relentless pace ofchange(technological/social)favours young, since they learn/relearn faster/easier/can afford to risk more to try new things(including jobs). In organizations, hierarchies of mature giving way to meritocracies in order to compete/ survive, initiate/adjust to change, and as knowledge/skill/even experience needs constant updating/ replacement. Youth: welcome change; think flexibly/technologically; exploit(mobile)skills; risk futures; prefer opportunity to wealth/security; demand/deserve respect. "Youth and Government" in issue(61-2)reports youth's growing role/impact in decision-making.[ "W]ell- prepared input can be more influential than[votes - point often made about NGOs' power being in knowledge]Young people...are not only leaders of tomorrow; increasingly they are leaders of today" .

 

Kofi A. Annan, "Preventing War and Disaster: A Growing Global Challenge" Annual Report on Work of the Organization 1999, by the Secretary-General of the United Nations(New York: DPI/ 2058; Sales No: E.99.1.29-Sep 1999):-after a convincing plea for more cost-saving global efforts to foresee, prevent, or reduce human and natural crises, Annan summarizes all major UN activities over year to Sep 99, and selected plans and problems(in 130pp). Chapters address: peace and security; development; humanitarian issues; globalization; legal order; human rights; administration. Overall impression: hard-won progress implementing UN obligations/reforms/ savings are frustrated by Members' selfishness/lack of political will/financial irresponsibility. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES under four topics: "Sustainable development" (56-8) "Humanitarian action/services" (64-72) "Functional commissions" (76-80) "Globalization/environment" (83-6). Report mostly on committee activities or negotiating/implementing treaties.

 

Kofi A. Annan, "We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century" Millennium Report of S-G presented 03 Apr 00 to UNGA in preparation for the Millennial Summit 6-8 Sep 00:- Executive Summary, Key Proposals, Full Report, Fact Sheet, Press Releases, SG UNGA Statement, SG Press Conference Transcript: all under http://www.un.org/millennium/sg/report/. Annan said report "attempts to present a comprehensive account of the challenges facing humanity as we enter the twenty-first century, combined with a plan of action for dealing with them" . Section titles with(very tight)summaries: I. New Century, New Challenges: New millennium-Summit offers unique occasion to reflect on world's common destiny, since interconnected as never before. UN can help meet challenges ahead and be reshaped now to make a real difference. II. Globalization and Governance: Globalization unequally distributed and lacks shared social objectives. More people(plus crime, drugs, terrorism, pollution, disease, weapons, migrants, refugees)interact across frontiers faster, and feel more threatened/ horrified by distant events/conditions. New technologies enable common understanding/action, so must learn to govern better, together. States need mutual help via common institutions, from non-state actors, and informal policy networks. The unequal/unstable/unsustainable world development model needs agreed remedial measures. III. Freedom From Want: .5b live on less than $1 a day, so must reduce extreme poverty by half before 2015. Priorities: sustained growth; all children complete primary school by 2015 and all youth finddecent work; by 2010 HIV infection rate in young cut by 25% -one result of more LDC-relevant research; improve lives of 100m slum dwellers by 2020; experts/charities to tackle low agricultural productivity in Africa, as governments give higher priority to poverty; maximize LDC access to infonets to speed development; rich states open markets to LDCs, offer more debt relief, and focus increased ODA. IV.Freedom From Fear: internal wars killed 5m in decade; WMD remain threat; security protects people, not territory. Tackle conflict by: prevention, more balanced development, human/minority rights, exposingweapons/money/resource smuggling; protect the vulnerable by enforcing international/human rights law; using UNSC for armed intervention when rights and lives are massively violated; consider peace operations review panel proposals; target "smart" sanctions more; improve control of small arms transfers, and reduce dangers of existing nuclear arms and proliferation. V. Sustaining Our Future: Most planet-sustaining actions are too few, little, and late. Before 2002, must: cope with climate change: reduce emissions 60% by efficient/renewable energy, implementing Kyoto Protocol; meet water crisis: accept 2015 target of 50% reduction in those without safe/affordable water, raise agricultural productivity per unit of water, improve management; defend soil: biotechnology may be best hope for sufficient food production, so debate must be resolved globally; preserve forests, fisheries, biodiversity with joint government/private sector conservation; build new stewardship ethic: public education, integration ofenvironment into economic policy, regulations/ incentives, accurate scientific data. VI. Renewing the UN: Must find consensus solutions among governments, private sector, NGOs, and IOs, with UN as catalyst. Build on core UN strengths(norm-setting, global actions, humanitarian trust)to press rule of law, adapt UNSC, and work with NGOs, private sector and foundations, including through informal policy networks; work with industry to exploit information technology; improve UN management throughstructural/agenda reform, priority-setting, more flexibility, results-based budgeting. VII. For Consideration by the Summit: Act on basis of shared Charter values: Freedom, Equity and Solidarity, Tolerance, Non-Violence, Respect for Nature, Shared Responsibility. Adopt resolutions drawn from Report as evidence.Reviews: Barbara Crossette, "Annan Urges High-Tech Aid for Poor Countries" in New York Times 4 Apr;The Economist 8 Apr: "Kofi Annan's Words to the World: Bouncing to a Fairer World" (51).

 

Kofi A. Annan, "Common Destiny, New Resolve" , Annual Report on the Work of the Organization 2000, by the Secretary-General of the United Nations(New York: DPI/2153;Sales No.E.00.1.22-Sep 99):-UNSG begins by noting report to Millennium Summit, "We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century" (op.cit.), includes his assessment of humanity's progress and challenges at turn of millennium,and suggests ways in which international community can work together to" better lives of people still left behind" .Introduction, summarizing 130-page report on major UN activities over year to Sep 00, highlights: (1)Demands on UN humanitarian agencies far exceeded worst-case predictions; (2)Living standards in sub-Saharan Africa still declining; (3)AIDS pandemic spreads with frightening rapidity; needs stronger commitment to action; (4)Three new peace missions were created, straining UNHQ resources. (5)Reviewsanalysed UN failures in Srebrenica and Rwanda; offered recommendations. (6) controversial economicbenefits of globalization must be more inclusive/equitably shared. (7)Must be cooperative management ofglobal economic affairs through more effective governance. (8)Informal global policy networks involving governments, international institutions, civil society and private sector have great potential. Chapters: Peace/Security; Humanitarian Commitments; Development; International Legal Order/Human Rights; UNManagement.

 

Kofi A. Annan "Courage To Fulfil Our Responsibilities" The Economist 04 Dec 04(23-5):-UNSG offers global action-urging essay built on his immediate reaction to report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Following his urgent introduction is a brief summary of Annan's alreadyconcentrated and rearranged version of the panel report's many concerns/proposals. Its value is less to summarize the panel's views than to identify subjects they and/or he discuss. "We face a world of extraordinary challenges - and of extraordinary interconnectedness. We are all vulnerable to new security threats, and to old threats that are evolving in complex and unpredictable ways. Either we allow this array of threats, and our responses to them, to divide us, or we come together to take effective action to meet all of them on basis of a shared commitment to collective security. I asked the 16 members of [panel]- eminent people representing many nations and points of view - to analyse the threats to peaceand security our world faces; to evaluate how well our existing policies and institutions are meeting them; and to recommend changes to those policies and institutions, so as to ensure an effective collective response to those threats. Their report...makes 101 far-sighted but realistic recommendations. If acted on, they would address the security concerns of all states, ensure that UN works better, strengtheninternational rule of law and make all people safer" . First: threats. Event/process leading to deaths on large scale/lessening life chances or undermines states, should be viewed as threat to innatl peace/security.Clusters: economic/social, including poverty/disease; inter-state conflict/rivalry; internal violence: civil war/state collapse/genocide; nuclear/radiological/chemical/ biological weapons; terrorism; innatl crime.Threats interconnected to unprecedented degree; no state alone can defeat. Highly enriched uranium at size of 6 milk cartons could level medium-sized city as nuclear device. Such attack in US/Europe isstaggering cost for world economy. Security of developed states only as strong as ability of poor statesto respond to/contain new deadly infectious disease. Incubation period for most is longer than most air flights, so any one of 700m who travel airlines in year could unwittingly carry lethal virus to unsuspecting state. Today, virus similar to 1918 influenza could kill tens of millions in fraction of a year. In today's worldany threat to one is truly threat to all; applies to all categories of threats. Since real limits on self-protection,all states need collective-security system, committing all to act cooperatively against dangers. Givengravity/interconnectedness of threats, world needs more active prevention. Prevention can be highly effective(Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty);WHO helped halt SARS. Best prevention agents: capable states, acting/cooperating with others. Best preventive strategy: is development support. Millennium Development Goals to halve poverty/hunger by 2015 states' best security investment. It will save lives/reduce violentconflict and radicalism/bolster state ability against threats before real harm. HIV/AIDS shows danger ofinadequate prevention. Slow/ineffective global response allowed 20m killed/20 years; spread continues andworst to come. Ultimate cost will include shattered societies. Still not taking all needed steps to bring under control. Also need public-health facilities built in poor world. Not only poorer states benefit diseasetreatment/local prevention; whole world has better defence against bio-terrorism/large-scale naturalepidemics. UNSC should work with WHO to strengthen biological security via prompt, effective responses.Equal: greater environmental collective action, including beyond Kyoto protocol to better resources management in states at risk. Prevention also vital to protect against terrorism. New isrange/scale/intensity of threat(al-Qaeda can kill around world/has struck in 10+ UN members).Could acquire instruments of massive destruction: unprecedented danger. UN must better use assets in fight against terrorists: articulate a strategy respectful of laws/human rights. Definition of terrorism offered: any action intended to kill/seriously harm civilians/non-combatants, with purpose of intimidatingpopulation/compelling action by government/innatl organization. States should use to build consensus andstrengthen UN response to deadly scourge. Also urgent recommendations on non-proliferation/disarmament/curbing supply of materials to reduce risk of nuclear/chemical/biological attacks by states/terrorist groups. States encouraged to end development of domestic uranium enrichmentand urged to voluntary time-limited moratorium on reprocessing plant construction. IAEA ability to monitorcompliance with Non-Proliferation Treaty strengthened by standards in protocol for safeguards inspections. Since Cold War, UN far more engaged in preventing/ending civil wars; ended more through negotiationsince 90 than in previous 200 years; developed expertise/learned hard lessons. As demand for UN blue helmets grows, need to boost peacekeeper supply/avoid 90s worst failures. Rich states should hastenefforts transforming existing forces for UN peace operations. UN must invest in mediation/support peace agreement implementation. Demobilize combatants/reintegrate into civil life; otherwise civil wars not successfully ended/other goals(democracy/justice/ development)remain unmet. Often innatl community lost focus if crisis high point past/peacekeepers left. Propose UNSC create Peacekeeping Commission; to givestrategic focus for work in states under stress/emerging from conflict. If prevention/peaceful resolution fails, UN must be able to rely on force. Whatever reason: all states/UNSC should bear in mind basic guidelines/questions: (1)Seriousness of threat: does it justify force?(2)Proper purpose: does proposed force halt/avert threat?(3)Last resort: all non-military options explored/exhausted? (4) Proportional means: force proposed minimum necessary?(5)Balance of consequences: clear action not worse than inaction? No need to amend Art.51 of UN Charter: any state's right of self-defence against armed attack/pre-emptive action against imminent threat. However if states fear threats, neither imminent nor proximate, but which could culminate in horrific violence if left to fester, UNSC already powered to act/must be prepared to take action earlier than past, when asked/reliable evidence. Protection of civilians inside states long fraught with controversy. Yet recognized more widely that question better framed, not as intervene-right but protection-responsibility - borne first/foremost by states. Panel agreed principle of non-intervention in internal affairs cannot protect committing genocide/large-scale ethnic cleansing/othercomparable atrocities. I hope UN members agree/UNSC will act. UN(now nearly 60)born in very different time/world, so has under-appreciated record of adapting to new dangers, e.g. peacekeeping in world's civil wars/response to attack of Sep 01. Clearly needs far-reaching reform to prevent/respond to all current threats. Some propose via-UN collective response too difficult/not necessary. But all anti-threat actions impact beyond immediate context/all states benefit from shared global framework. Not mean UN needs to do everything. It must learn of share burdens/welcome help from others/work with them. Already does so; report recommends strengthened UN partnerships with regional organs/individual states. Great attention: UNSC reform. Objectives: make UNSC more effective/authoritative. Permanent membership devised(1945)to ensure active engagement of big powers to maintain peace/security. New permanent members matter of controversy/debate. Two suggestions, both expanding membership to 24; aim at: add those who contribute most to UN financially/militarily/diplomatically; ensure UNSC represents UN as whole;not expand veto, which would render decisions more difficult. Proposals offer chance breakthrough in year ahead. If acted on, UNSC more representative/better equipped for decisive action. Need strengthened UN secretariat that can support Peacebuilding Commission; implement UNSC/ committee decisions better on peacekeeping/mediating civil wars. Report envisages more concerted-action secretariat, with UNSGmore responsible for management/accountability. Equally important: ECOSOC overhaul to strengthen role in social development/improving knowledge on economic-social dimensions of security threats. Also, recommends Human Rights Commission better defender of rights of all. After 60 years, once again findworld mired in disillusionment and all too imperfect. Easy to stand at sidelines and criticise/talk endlessly about UN reform, but world no longer has that luxury. Time to adapt collective security system so it works efficiently/effectively/ equitably. Next year UN states reviewing progress on Millennium Declaration; world leaders' summit in Sep. Appropriate moment to act on some of most important recommendations in report.I will indicate which call for decisions at that level. Fervently hope world leaders will rise to challenge. Have all lived through period of deep division and sombre reflection. Must make 05 year of bold decision; all share responsibility for each other's security. Let's summon courage to fulfil responsibility." Complete text of "A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility" Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, plus initial comments by requester/addressee, UNSG Kofi Annan, can be read and even copied(99pp Acrobat Reader)from Secretary General's part of UN file (www.un.org). Executive Summary(8pp Acrobat)also available at same address. Capturing the 21st Century Security: Prospects for Collective Responses(Oct 04)collects reports from six Stanley Foundation conferences in 04 that dealt with UNSG panel. Report at http://reports.stanleyfoundation.org. Council on Foreign Relations "Q&A: Reforming the United Nations" 01 Dec 04:-originally available either by NYT>CFR>International>[title] or via CFR directly. This is expert interview with Lee Feinstein who" has spearheaded Council work on the United Nations" and studied the important UN report and its UNGA prospects.

 

Associated Press," Researchers Produce a Healthier Rice" in New York Times 14 Jan 00: -item reports that " scientists have genetically engineered a type of rice that could end vitamin A deficiency in the developing world" . About 14m children worldwide are deficient; so besides reducing widespread blindness, raising vitamin A levels could prevent 1-2m deaths a year. Swiss researchers successfully spliced three genes into rice to make it rich in beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. While tests are ensuring the original nutritional value is maintained, the famous International Rice Research Institute(IRRI) is working tobreed the trait into popular rice varieties. New developments are reported in David Barboza, "AstraZeneca to Sell a Genetically Engineered Strain of Rice" NYT 16 May(Note to Anthony DePalma," Super Seeds Sweeping Major Markets..." ).

 

Associated Press"China Refines Birth-Control Policy"New York Times 07 May 00:-report on new government policy says China" hopes to limit its growing population to 1.4b people in 2010 by refining" its current policy. This is an unlikely feat, given that the present official figure of 1.25b may understate the real total by tens of millions, and experts believe the population will actually peak about 1.6b around 2050. Beijing claims:" A more perfect control system will be built and a better environment...created...[S]afe, effective and proper contraceptive methods should be made available to women...Nevertheless, the population will increase by 10m a year in the next few decades" . Officials already worry this will outstrip finite supplies ofwater, farmland and other resources, requiring major grain imports, but an unintended population-control factor has developed: boys being preferred, China may already have 100m more males than females.

 

Associated Press "Annan Paints Grim Picture to Assembly"New York Times 19 Sep 06:-"Addressing world leaders for last time as UNSG, Kofi Annan painted a grim picture of an unjust world economy, global disorder, widespread contempt for human rights, and appealed for nations/peoples to truly unite. As theannual UN General Assembly [UNGA] ministerial meeting got under way, 192 UN member states facedambitious agenda including trying to promote Mideast peace, curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, get UN peacekeepers into conflict-wracked Darfur, promote democracy... Annan, whose second five-year term ends 31 Dec 06, said the past decade has seen progress in development, security, rule of law - the threegreat challenges he said humanity faced in first address to UNGA in 97. But UNSG said too many still exposed to brutal conflict, and fear of terrorism has increased clash of civilizations/religions. Terrorismbeing used as pretext to limit or abolish human rights, and globalization risks driving richer and poorer apart, he said. 'Events of last 10 years have not resolved, but sharpened, three great challenges - unjust world economy, world disorder, and widespread contempt for human rights and rule of law', Annan said.'As result, we face world whose divisions threaten very notion of an international community, upon which this institution stands. I remain convinced that only answer to this divided world must be a truly United Nations' , he said. In annual report, UNSG touched on some of most difficult issues confronting leaders... [Arab-Israeli conflict; Iraq; Afghanistan; Sudan/Darfur]. 'Together we have pushed some big rocks to top of the mountain, even if others have slipped from our grasp and rolled back. But this mountain... is best place on earth to be',UNSG said.'I yield my place to others with an obstinate feeling of hope for our common future', Annan said. [UNGA] loud applause/rose in sustained standing ovation".

Ronald Bailey, "A Clean and Comfortable Planet Without Global Regulation" (171-9)and Gareth Porter, "Why We Need the United Nations to Protect the Global Environment" (181-9)in Ted Galen Carpenter, edit.,Delusions of Grandeur: The United Nations and Global Intervention(Washington: Cato Institute, 1997):- for book annotation, see Carpenter(op.cit.) Contrasting articles disagree less over reality of environmentalproblems than over whether UN/ states should do anything about them. Bailey argues UN programs wouldcost money and thus slow wealth-creation - the automatic solution. Similarly, if left alone, world farmerscould produce as much as US corn-growers do today -and feed 10 billion people at present US calorie levels on half the present cropland(174). Global warming is unlikely (UN estimates biased)but if world economy left alone to get rich, costs can be borne. Porter summarizes consensus views on climate change, ozonedepletion, ocean pollution, fish depletion, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and argues they can be addressedonly by global cooperation. He outlines diverse views that impede UN policy/ action, but concludes that the UN is indispensable for progress.

Carter F.Bales & Richard D.Duke "Containing Climate Change: An Opportunity for U.S. Leadership"(78-89) Foreign Affairs Vol.87/No.5(Sep/Oct 08):-official summary:"Greenhouse gas emissions are harming the environment and the global economy. After cleaning up its own act, US must enlist developing countries in a new climate-control regime that promises to dramatically reduce emissions and encourage energy efficiency and the development of clean-energy technology". Emphasized extracts:"A cap-and-invest strategy would allow US to develop a clean economy at little or no net cost". "Time has come for US to lead the fight against global warming at home and abroad". Bales: Managing Partner Emeritus of Wicks Group of Companies. Duke: Director of Natural Resources Defense Council's Center for Market Innovation.

Scott Barrett Why Cooperate? The Incentive to Supply Global Public Goods (New York: Oxford Univ Press 07):-surprisingly well written -considering the complexity of issues- in: (1) describing the existing global challenges (e.g. climate change, nuclear proliferation, worldwide pandemics) and those that threaten the entire planet (e.g. terrorism, physical/chemical/biological instabilities, asteroids); and (2) reporting on how such problems have been successfully or badly handled in the past, the rationales involved, and the various cooperations that would/might work best in future. Barrett's "threat" approach differs from my item "EARTH MUST COOPERATE...", mainly in stressing "Global Public Goods" actions of the recent past (e.g.often successful United Nations; wonderful "Montreal Protocol" ozone treaty), whereas my gloomy and concentrated "page" is designed almost solely to identify: (1) the exploding scale/variety of global threats; (2) the human tendencies that have created/will create them; and (3) why we must change a number of very old human views/feelings. Both press broader global diplomacy as essential tool. Most chapters focus on distinct types of issue/solution. [Even a study of brief bit(s) of 275p would be valuable.] Titles: Incentives to Supply Global Public Goods [GPG]; (1) Single Best Efforts: GPG that Can Be Supplied Unilaterally or Minilaterally; (2) Weakest Links: GPG that Depend on States that Contribute the Least; (3) Aggregate Efforts: GPG that Depend on Combined Efforts of All States; (4) Financing and Burden Sharing: Paying for GPG; (5) Mutual Restraint: Agreeing What States Ought Not to Do; (6) Coordination and Global Standards: Agreeing What States Ought to Do; (7) Development: Do GPG Help Poor States?; Conclusion: Institutions for Supply of GPG.

Felicity Barringer "Nations Ranked as Protectors of the Environment"New York Times 24 Jan 05:-2005 has produced"index of environmental sustainability, which ranks nations on their success at such tasks asmaintaining/improving air and water quality, maximizing biodiversity and cooperating with other countries on environmental problems...Report is based on 75 measures, including rate at which children die from respiratory diseases, fertility rates[of what?], water quality, overfishing, emission of heat-trapping gases, and export of sodium dioxide, crucial component of acid rain. Report also cited statisticallysignificant correlation between high-ranking countries and[those]with open political systems/effective governments."Top ten out of 146 countries studied were(in their order):Finland, Norway, Uruguay, Sweden, Iceland, Canada, Switzerland, Guyana, Argentina, Austria. US ranked 45th, behind such countries as Japan, Botswana, Bhutan, most of Western Europe. Lowest-ranking country was North Korea; others near bottom were Haiti, Taiwan, Iraq, Kuwait. Index is second produced in collaboration with World Economic Forum(Davos, Switzerland).

Samuel R.Berger"Foreign Policy for a Democratic President"Foreign Affairs Vol.83/No.3(May/Jun 04):-aimed at those concerned about weaknesses in US foreign policy of Bush regime, and needs/opportunities in modified policies of any Nov 04-elected Democratic(or amended)regime. Most issues discussed of global relevance, and many stress US relations with foreign entities, particularlyNATO/UN/international law. This mentions those of global importance discussed in some detail. US administration's "high-handed style and its gratuitous unilateralism" about its military, economic and cultural aims, embittered even those abroad most likely to embrace US values. New US regime "no moreurgent task than to restore...global moral and political authority, so when we decide to act we canpersuade others to join us. Achieving reversal will require forging new strategic bargain with closest allies...Democratic approach to resolving disputes with Europe over treaties should be pragmatic, focused on improving flawed agreements rather than ripping them up" .US policy towards Israel-Palestine conflictmust return with energy/ urgency. Regarding Afghanistan/Pakistan and Iraq," Bush administration'sunilateralist approach has let allies off hook: given them excuse to shirk these and other global responsibilities. Democratic administration would not be so dismissive of allies on issues that matter to them" since exercises truly international rather than exclusively US. Similar approaches are relevant to spread of weapons of mass destruction(WMD)." Democratic administration should use every tool at disposal to prevent WMD threats from arising before force becomes only option" . Listed issues include Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program with Russia, and "global effort to secure nuclear materials at all such sites" .Others sites described are North Korea and Iran. Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT)might add "new bargain" helping non-nuclear countries develop nuclear energy. Many more issues are brief.

C.Fred Bergsten"A Partnership of Equals: How Washington Should Respond to China's Economic Challenge"(57-69) Foreign Affairs Vol.87/No.4(Jul/Aug 08):-official summary:"Despite its growing economic clout, China continues to act like a small country with little impact on the global system at large and therefore little responsibility for it. Behavior threatens to undermine the existing international economic architecture. To avoid a major train wreck, Wshdc should seek todevelop true partnership with Beijing so as to provide joint leadership of global economic system"-e.g. trade/finance/energy/climate. Bergsten:Director, Peterson Institute for International Economics. Essay adapted from his forthcoming, co-authored book, China's Rise: Challenges and Opportunities (Peterson Institute and Center for Strategic and International Studies, 08). See very current: Elizabeth C.Economy & Adam Segal "China's Olympic Nightmare: What the Games Mean for Beijing's Future"(47-56):-off.sum:"The 2008 Olympics were meant to be China's global coming-out party. But on the eve of Games, Beijing finds itself beset by internal protests and international condemnation on issues ranging from Darfur/Tibet to air pollution/food safety. If these challenges cannot be peacefully/successfully addressed, China risks losing its credibility as a global leader". Economy: C.V.Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at Council on Foreign Relations. Segal:Maurice R.Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies at CFR.

Jagdish Bhagwati "Free Trade Today"(Princeton: Princeton Univ Press 02):-while only 140pp long (including Preface and Index), and presented in the form of three Lectures (with multiple footnotes - mainly identifying sources), this famous book is often described as the greatest defense for global free trade ever written. Dustcover claims:"Forcefully, elegantly, and clearly written for the public by one of the foremost economic thinkers of our day [Professor at Columbia Univ. and a special adviser to UN and particularly GATT/WTO], this volume is not merely accessible but essential reading for anyone interested in economic policy orin the world economy". Titles: LECTURE 1: "Confronting Conventional Threats to Free Trade: The Postwar Revolution in the Theory of Commercial Policy"; LECTURE 2: "'Fair Trade', Income Distribution, and Social Agendas: Using Trade Theory to Meet New Challenges"; LECTURE 3: "Getting to Free Trade: Alternative Approaches and Their Theoretical Rationale". While 1 is difficult for those without economic training, 2 and 3 can be easily handled by any who regularly read international affairs. Editor's own summary: "Bhagwati applies critical insights from revolutionary developments in commercial policy theory... to show how the pursuit of social and environmental agendas can be creatively reconciled withthe pursuit of free trade. Indeed, he argues that free trade, by raising living standards, can serve these agendas far better than can a descent into trade sanctions and restrictions. [H]e argues in support of multilateralism and advances a withering critique of recent bilateral and regional free trade agreements". Bhagwati's also famous"In Defense of Globalization"(Oxford Univ 04), offers a 300+pp broader approach.

Jagdish Bhagwati"Banned Aid: Why International Assistance Does Not Alleviate Poverty"(120-125) Foreign Affairs Vol.89/No.1 (Jan/Feb 10):-Review Essay of Dambisa Moyo: Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (Farrar, Straus & Giraux 09, 208pp. $24.00). Official summary:"The idea that foreign aid can be used to promote development seems reasonable. But as the Zambian economist Moyo argues, it is flawed - not just because corrupt dictators divert aid for nefarious or selfish purposes but also because even in reasonably democratic countries, aid creates perverse incentives and unintended consequences". [In other words, while the deeply experienced and global-level economist Bhagwati ultimately rejects Moyo's proposal to terminate all aid within five years, he shares many of her criticisms of its errant policies by identifying several unfortunate motives that drove the donations. He also feels that she does not assign sufficient blame to the terrible faults of many of the African leaders involved.] Bhagwati is Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and University Professor of Economics and Law at Columbia University. He served on the UN secretary-general's Advisory Panel on International Support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development 2005-06. For an annotated guide to this topic, see "What to Read on Foreign Aid" at www.foreignaffairs.com/readinglists/foreign-aid.

Tony Blair "A Year of Huge Challenges" The Economist 01 Jan 05(By Invitation 44-6):-British PM presents two major global initiatives, to urge G8 to organize and substantially pay(Britain: 05 president).Essay makes strong cases in favor since, "with threat from international terrorism and spread of weapons of mass destruction.,. they are most serious problems facing world today [and] problems beyond power of any single country...Solution requires co-ordinated international action, and above all leadershipwhich G8 is uniquely placed to give. The two initiatives relate to attacking climate change and solving African issues. Here the only material summarized is on Changing Climate. "[N]o country will escape its impact. And there can be no doubt...world getting warmer. Temperatures already risen by 0.7C over past century, and ten hottest years on record all occurred since 91[;] fastest rise in temperatures in northern hemisphere for thousand years. This...has meant rise in sea level that, if continues as predicted, will mean hundreds of millions...increasingly at risk from flooding[, plus]other extreme/ increasingly unpredictable weather events such as rainstorms/droughts will also have heavy human/economic cost... Overwhelming view of experts is that climate change, to greater or lesser extent, is man-made and, without action, will get worse...But just as technological progress/human activity have helped cause problem, also within our power to lessen impact/ adapt to change. [N]eed to act now. Delay will only increase seriousness of problems...and economic disruption required to move to more renewable energy and sustainablemanufacturing in future. G8 needs to lead. Kyoto protocol[coming into force]is good news,but... change/ ambition required will be far more[and, with US refusal to sign,]makes measures we could secure through G8 even more vital." US/Britain have national/state legislation and leading investment/research under way, and firms' lower-emission status gaining commercial advantage." We are at stage where role of government/global policy must encourage development/ commercial viability of new technologies that have potential to mitigate effects of climate change...G8 can take global lead both inmaking world aware of scale of problem and proposing ways to tackle. G8[also]opportunity to agree onwhat most up-to-date investigations of climate change are telling about the threat[, and]engage actively withother countries' growing energy needs... to ensure they meet needs sustainably and adapt to adverse effects of climate change, which seem inevitable. Sorting Out Africa is on a "twin" item to keep their lengths reasonable. Starts similar but main texts/distributions differ.

Scott G.Borgerson"Arctic Meltdown: The Economic and Security Implications of Global Warming"(63-77)Foreign Affairs Vol.87/No.2(Mar/Apr 08):-official summary: "Thanks to global warming, the Arctic icecap is rapidly melting, opening up access to massive natural resources and creating shipping shortcuts that could save billions of dollars a year. But there are currently no clear rules governing this economically and strategically vital region. Unless US leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the Arctic could descend into armed conflict". Author is International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations [which publishes Foreign Affairs,] and a former Lieutenant Commander in the US Coast Guard.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, "A New Departure on Development" Foreign Policy, 98(Spring 95):-after brief history of North-South confrontation in the UN, Secretary-General argues that cooperation is now essential for both rich and poor, given their common interests in the environment and migration. Obviously related to 1993 "Agenda for Development" .

 

Keith Bradsher & David Barboza "The Energy Challenge: Clouds From Chinese Coal Cast a Long Shadow"NYT 11 Jun 06:-particularly excellent/worrying 9-page report on one of the world's worst activities/killers."One of China's lesser-known exports is dangerous brew of soot, toxic chemicals and climate-changing gases from the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants... The cooling effect from the sulfur [dioxide byproduct] is short-lived. By contrast, the carbon dioxide emanating from Chinese coal plants will lastfor decades, with a cumulative warming effect that will eventually... deliver another large kick to global warming, climate scientists say... Already, China uses more coal than US, EU and Japan combined. And it has increased coal consumption 14% in each of the past two years in the broadest industrialization ever. Every week to 10 days, another [major] coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China... To make matters worse, India is right behind China in stepping up its construction of coal-fired power plants - and has a population expected to outstrip China's by 2030... The difference from most wealthy countries is that China depends overwhelmingly on coal. And using coal to produce electricity and run factories generates more global-warming gases and lung-damaging pollutants than relying on oil or gas... China knows it has to do something about its dependence on [pollution-heavy] coal".

 

Keith Bradsher "Taiwan's Bullet Trains Can't Outrun Controversy" New York Times 28 Dec 06:- "The sleet,bulbous-nosed new bullet trains look like they are designed to whisk passengers across wide-open spaces. But on congested island, they represent the start of a 180-mile-per-hour commuter train system.After quarter century of planning and construction, system scheduled to open 05 Jan 07. Will tie together cities/towns where 94% Taiwan lives, offering alternative to clogged highways and the air pollution vehicles produce. For some urban planners/environmentalists, project is example of how Asia may... control oil imports, curb fast-rising emissions of global-warming gases and bring higher standard of living to enormous numbers of people in environmentally sustainable way. Passengers who travel on fully loaded train will use only sixth of energy they would use if they drove alone in a car and willrelease only one-ninth as much carbon dioxide... Compared with bus ride, figures are half the energyand a quarter of carbon dioxide, train system officials said. But system's enormous cost - $15b... - madeit a subject of dispute... Using overhead electric lines,... trains will run from Taipei down through western Taiwan to Kaohsiung, the main industrial city in south,.. distance of 215 miles... System will start with 19 trains in each direction daily and eventually handle 88... Most trains will make six intermediate stops, lengthening travel time [from 90 minutes] to 2hours-7mins... The high-speed trains travel almost entirely on specially built, 60-foot-tall viaducts to avoid need to cross roads... Whether train system becomes commercial success will partly depend on how many people use its somewhatinconveniently-located [new] stations, how quickly the land is developed around these stations and how much tickets cost" . Associated Press "Taiwan High - Speed Rail System to Debut" NYT 04 Jan 07:- "Taiwan's long-delayed high-speed rail system geared up... to welcome its first paying passengers amid lingering safety concerns and embarrassing ticketing glitches. [L]imited service 05 Jan 07 will cut rail travel time between Taipei and Kaohsiung from 4 hours to 90 mins. [I]t represents colossal effort toimprove transportation for Taiwan's 23m people, while saving energy/preserving environment. [P]roblems that dogged it for more than a decade still apparent. [A]ngry ticket buyers complaining about being unable to use credit cards, or receiving wrong change from ticket machines... When full servicebegins, four domestic airlines expected main casualty [as] vast majority [within] 2 hours from Taipei".

Christopher Bright, "Invasive Species: Pathogens of Globalization" in Foreign Policy No.116(Fall 99):-this essay summarizes Life Out of Bounds: Bioinvasion in a Borderless World(New York: W.W.Norton & Co., 1998). Bright claims: "World trade has become the primary driver of one of the most dangerous and least visible forms of environmental decline: thousands of foreign, invasive species are hitch-hiking through the global trading network aboard ships, planes, and railroad cars...This' biological pollution'is degrading ecosystems, threatening public health, and costing billions" (50). Counter-policies largely ineffective, control mechanisms(UN?)relatively undeveloped, global integration makes the situation ever worse. Bright offersmuch information: animal, plant, insect, pathogen species; means of transport; various costs. His agenda:control ballast release(IMO); fix Sanitary/Phytosanitary Measures act(WTO); build global database(UN?).

Simon Briscoe & Hugh Aldersey-Williams Panicology :Subtitle on Book Cover Only: What Are You Afraid Of? Two Statisticians Explain What's Worth Worrying About (and What's Not) in the 21st Century (London: Viking 08):-after a brief Introduction, the 300-page book offers essays on 42 specialized subjects in hopefully objective terms and the most up-to-date statistics. Each essay is inclined to lampoon deliberately-scary headlines that were inclined to raise excessive worries on the subject. My main/chronic criticism is that many essays apply solely to the UK situation or primarily to the West, whereas most issues are clearly of global concern - and are studied globally by UN (multiple UN summaries op. cit.). The chapter titles are followed by my own subjects of the relevant essays. (1) Sex, Marriage and Children: Population Issues; Family Units and Children; Getting Married; Sexual Attitudes. (2) Health: Obesity; Salt Consumption; Bird Flu; Hospital-Acquired Infections; Kids' Triple Vaccines; Sudden Infant Death Syndromes. (3) Passing the Time: Accidents from Physical Art; Heavy Drinking of Alcohol; Cinema Admissions; Collection of Sports Cards. (4) Social Policy: Pensions; Household Debts; House Prices; Immigration; Deaths Through Transport; Accidents Through Mobile Phones; (5) The Workplace: Globalization's Effects on Employment; Women's Pay; Work-Related Stress; Repetitive Strain Injury; (6) Law and Order: Terrorist Threats; Military Threats; Numbers in Prison; Crime Figures; (7) Natural World: Ozone Depletion; Hurricanes; Climate Change; Sea-Level Rise; Earthquakes and Volcanos; New Ice Age? (8) Our Declining Resources: Extinctions; Fisheries Issues; Languages. (9) Modern Science: Genetically Modified Food; Nanotechnology; Nuclear Radiation. (10) They're Coming to Get You: UFO Reports; Asteroids.

William J. Broad," Maybe We Are Alone in the Universe, After All" in New York Times 8 Feb 00:-in one SETI(search for extraterrestrial intelligence) project alone, 1.6m people in 224 countries have donated 165,000 years computer time to analyse signals from space picked up by one radio telescope. The Economist 29 Jul 00"Divide and Conquer" (77-8):brings the project up-to-date by reporting that over 2m computers are involved and that in the 15 months since its launch 345,000 years' worth of computer time have been put in. This article is more detailed on the enormous technical and economic potential of "distributed computing" . For instance, the machines involved are" collectively the equivalent of a computer operating at around ten million million calculations a second, about ten times faster than any conventional supercomputer. Meanwhile, planets of one sort or another are being located at an accelerating rate by astronomers, while astrobiologists estimate our galaxy could include a million advanced societies; the universe: 10 trillion. On the other hand, in their book "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe" (New York: Copernicus, 2000), Drs. D.C.Brownlee and P.D.Ward claim recent scientific data imply humans may be alone in the cosmos. They do not question that "life is an inherent property of matter,as most scientists believe" , and" strongly encourage" SETI work to test their hypothesis, but argue Earth's "composition and stability are extraordinarily rare. Most everywhere else, the radiation levels are too high, the right chemical elements too rare.., the hospitable planets too few...and the rain of killer rocks toointense for life ever to have evolved into advanced communities" , though microbes may survive in many places. Debate is lively and fascinating.

L.Anathea Brooks & Stacy D.VanDeveer,edit. Saving the Seas: Values, Scientists, and International Governance (College Park: Maryland Sea Grant 97):-although focused on environmental management of enclosed and coastal seas, book is not technical for those with any interest in big environmental issues. It takes broad/thoughtful look at every major aspect of environmentalism, using coastal seas as intrinsically critical and complex "eco-challenges" to justify discussion of many global problems. Sections diverge in focus: Values, Places, Nature (environmentalists' moral, cultural, aesthetic bases); Scientists, Certainty, and Knowledge (scientific viewpoints and inevitable limitations); International Governance, Actors and Institutions (changing international relations theory/practice; the negative effect on environmental politics);Approaching Ecosystem Governance (ongoing/potential regional-global systems for good international governance). As each Chapter stands alone, you can savor the book as/where you like.

Stephen G.Brooks & William C.Wohlforth"Reshaping the World Order: How Washington Should Reform International Institutions"(49-63)Foreign Affairs Vol.88/No.2(Mar/Apr09):-official summary :"The current architecture of international institutions is so out of sync with the modern world that it must be updated. But skeptics question whether US is up to the task. They need not worry: US still possesses enough power and legitimacy to spearhead reform". Emphasized quote: "In a 2007 address to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, [Barack Obama, now US president,] stressed that 'it was America that largely built a system of international institutions that carried us through the Cold War... Instead of constraining our power, these institutions magnified it'. 'Today it's become fashionable to disparage the United Nations, the World Bank, and other international organizations', he continued. 'In fact, reform of these bodies is urgently needed if they are to keep pace with the fast-moving threats we face'"(50). Brooks is Associate Professor of Government, and Wohlforth is Daniel Webster Professor of Government and Chair of Department of Government, both Dartmouth College. Article adapted from their: World Out of Balance: International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy(Princeton Univ 08).

Lester R.Brown Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization(New York: Earth Policy Institute 08):-brilliant accounts of: (I)climate change crises; (II)needs/means to take counter-actions; (III)urgent worldwide programs. Any of 400pp could be consulted individually. Here are Chapters(plus sub-headings): 1. Entering a New World (A Massive Market Failure; Environment and Civilization; China: Why Existing Economic Model Will Fail; Mounting Stresses, Failing States; Civilizational Tipping Point; Plan B - Plan of Hope); (I) 2. Deteriorating Oil and Food Security (Coming Decline of Oil; Oil Intensity of Food; Changing Food Prospect; Cars/People Compete for Crops; World Beyond Peak Oil; Food Insecurity and Failing States); 3. Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas (Rising Temperature - Its Effects; Crop Yield Effect; Reservoirs in Sky; Melting Rice and Rising Seas; More-Destructive Storms; Cutting Carbon 80% by 2020); 4. Emerging Water Shortages (Water Tables Falling; Rivers Running Dry; Lakes Disappearing; Farmers Losing to Cities; Scarcity Crossing National Borders; Water Scarcity Yields Political Stresses); 5. Natural Systems Under Stress (Shrinking Forests -Many Costs; Losing Soil; From Grassland to Desert; Advancing Deserts; Collapsing Fisheries; Disappearing Plants and Animals); 6. Early Signs of Decline (Our Socially Divided World; Health Challenge Growing; Throwaway Economy in Trouble; Population and Resource Conflicts; Environmental Refugees on Rise; Mounting Stresses, Failing States); (II) 7. Eradicating Poverty, Stabilizing Population Universal Basic Education; Stabilizing Population; Better Health for All; Curbing HIV Epidemic; Reducing Farm Subsidies/Debt; Poverty Eradication Barrier); 8. Restoring the Earth (Protecting and Restoring Forests; Conserving and Rebuilding Soils; Regenerating Fisheries; Protecting Plant/Animal Diversity; Planting Trees to Sequester Carbon; Earth Restoration Budget); 9. Feeding Eight Billion Well (Rethinking Land Productivity; Raising Water Productivity; Producing Proteir More Efficiently; Moving Down Food Chain; Action on Many Fronts); 10. Designing Cities for People (Ecology of Cities; Redesigning Urban Transport; Reducing Urban Water Use; Farming in the City; Upgrading Squatter Settlements; Cities for People); 11. Raising Energy Efficiency (Banning the Bulb; Energy-Efficient Appliances; More-Efficient Buildings; Restructuring Transport System; New Materials Economy; Energy Savings Potential); 12. Turning to Renewable Energy (Harnessing Wind; Wind-Powered Plug-in Hybrid Cars; Solar Cells and Collectors; Energy from the Earth; Plant-Based Sources of Energy; River/Tidal/Wave Power; World Energy Economy: 2020); (III) 13.The Great Mobilization (Shifting Taxes and Subsidies; Summing Up Climate Stabilization Measures; Response to Failing States; Wartime Mobilization; Mobilizing to Save Civilization; What You and I Can Do).

John Browne, "Beyond Kyoto" Foreign Affairs Vol.83/No.4(Jul/Aug 04):-substantial, sympathetic, expert arguments by BP executive that, as 1997 treaty now blocked, its vital action be updated. "Kyoto Protocolis coming unraveled. Despite nearly a decade of effort, it may not even enter into force as a binding instrument...Canada, Japan, and European Union...are not on track to meet their commitments[and US haswithdrawn entirely.]...Clear-eyed realism is essential. But display ...is mistaken reaction. There is scope for different and more positive view...First, it has become obvious that Kyoto was simply starting point of very long [progressing] endeavour. Second, we have improved, if still imperfect, knowledge of challengesand uncertainties climate change presents, as well as better understanding of time scales involved. Third,many countries and companies have had experience reducing emissions and have proved that suchreductions can be achieved without destroying competitiveness or jobs. Fourth, science and technology have advanced on multiple fronts...Finally, public awareness of issue has grown - not just in developed world but all around the globe. [It] is becoming clear that reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is soluble problem, and that mechanisms for delivering solutions are within reach. In that spirit of cautious optimism, it is time to move beyond current Kyoto debate." Bulk of text amplifies each of five points.

Bill Bryson A Short History of Nearly Everything(New York: Broadway Books 03):-pre-bestseller author of many/widely-varied books, undertook "informative journey into world of science,.. his greatest challenge yet: to understand - and, if possible, answer - oldest, biggest questions... about the universe and ourselves... Result is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear/entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge"(publisher). Even new "lavishly illustrated" Nov 05 hardcover edition of 624pp available from Barnes & Noble to all @US$28.00. Favourable Ed Regis NYT review(18 May 03)states:"Bryson achieved exactly what he'd set out to do, and, moreover, [did] it in stylish, efficient, colloquial and stunningly accurate prose... The basic facts of physics, chemistry, biology, botany, climatology, geology - all these and many more are presented with exceptional clarity and skill". My own reaction is that this easily available/readable reference on all not-personally-specialised scientific subjects should ideally be read - or at least be used for topic-reference - by all in this very unstable world.

Zbigniew Brzezinski"An Agenda for NATO: Toward a Global Security Web"(2-20) Foreign Affairs Vol.88/No.5 (Sep/Oct 09):-official summary:"In the course of its 60 years, NATO has ended the 'civil war' within the West for transoceanic and European supremacy, institutionalized the United States' commitment to the defense of Europe, and secured the peaceful termination of the Cold War. What next? To live up to its potential, the alliance should become the hub of a global-spanning web of regional cooperative-security undertakings". Emphasized extracts:"In the vulnerable decades after World War II, conflict was avoided largely because NATO remained united". "WshDC's arrogant unilateralism in Iraq and its demagogic Islamophobic sloganeering weakened the unity of NATO". "NATO has the means to become the center of a globe-spanning web of cooperative-security undertakings". Brzezinski was US National Security Adviser 1977-1981. His most recent book: Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower.

Zbigniew Brzezinski"From Hope to Audacity: Appraising Obama's Foreign Policy"(16-30) Foreign Affairs Vol.89/No.1 (Jan/Feb 10):-while this leading/positive essay is about US policy, the subjects are all of global importance. Official summary:"In his first year in office, President Barack Obama has reconceptualized US foreign policy and demonstrated a genuine sense of strategic direction. But so far, Obama's foreign policy has generated more expectations than strategic breakthroughs. Three urgent issues - Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and Afghan-Pakistani challenge - are posing an immediate test of his ability to significantly change US policy". Emphasized extracts:"Obama has shown a genuine sense of strategic direction and a solid grasp of what today's world is all about". "US is already losing the renewed confidence of the Arab world that Obama won with his speech in Cairo". "Sanctions against Iran must punish those in power - not the middle class, as an embargo on gasoline would do". "So far, Obama's foreign policy has generated more expectations than strategic breakthroughs". Brzezinski was US National Security Adviser 1977-1981. His most recent book: Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower.

Gary Burtless, Robert Z.Lawrence, Robert E.Litan, Robert J.Shapiro Globaphobia: Confronting Fears about Open Trade (Washington: Brookings Institution/Progressive Policy Institute/ Twentieth Century Fund 98):-major criticisms of global and regional free trade are contradicted skilfully, using fairly non-technical data and arguments. The authors' concern is that while the US economy has been doing well in terms of growth, job creation, inflation and investment, at the same time unskilled industrial workers have faced layoffs and/or stagnant incomes, feeding fears of that this is the direct result of imports from low-wage economies. Statistics prove, however, that such broad structural and technological problems and trade flows are unrelated. Earnings insurance is proposed to reduce protectionism.

G.V.Buxton "Sustainable Development and the Summit: a Canadian Perspective on Progress"International Journal 47 (Autumn 92): 776-795. - useful and authoritative summary of the results of the Rio Environment Summit by the Executive Director of the Canadian National Secretariat. It reduces a large mass of material into quickly readable form.

Lucius Caflisch "Regulation of the Uses of International Waterways: The Contribution of the United Nations" (3-35)in Martin Ira Glassner edit. The United Nations at Work(Westport: Praeger 98):-Charterrequires UNGA "initiate studies and make recommendations for purpose of:..encouraging progressivedevelopment of international law and its codification." Much effective work done by expert 34-memberInternational Law Commission whose drafts passed to UNGA for decision. This greatly increased body of international law at time when need for it expanding. Describes in lay terms how newly explosive issue, "development, apportionment and use of water resources[and]one of world's major economic and social problems" handled in UN. Growing demand, hence rising competition for scarce resource made it delicate exercise.

Frances Cairncross"The Environment: Sharing"The Economist 30 May 92 (Survey 1-24). - a good representative of the "business" approach to environmental concern: do what you have to do only when, and in a manner that, it makes economic sense; use economic levers as both carrots and sticks. The Economist 28 Jun 97(84): contains an up-dated and generally positive economic analysis of "Green Taxes", and (41-2) a related but gloomy report on "Rio"+5. The Economist 29 Nov 97 (16,83-5): an editorial and an article in preparation for the Kyoto Climate Change Conference, which summarize the current thinking and recommend a policy of gradual action (including emission credit transfers) as the information and technology improves and the costs discounted. The Economist 13 Dec 97 (16,38-9) report gloomily on the Kyoto Conference results. Several letters in the 20 Dec 97 issue (6-7) comment usefully on the climate issue.

Thomas Carothers"Civil Society: Think Again"Foreign Policy No.117(Winter 99-00):-contends that "civil society's worth as a concept has soared far beyond its demonstrated returns...[The original 18th century idea was a]" domain parallel to but separate from the state... where citizens associate according to their own interests and wishes" (18). It revived in the 1990s as dictatorships conceded, politicalparties ossified, government retracted, technology made grouping easy/powerful. Broader than do-good NGOs, the concept spans all interest groups outside state and market. The ends of such groups can begood, bad, bizarre, and conflicting. They can strengthen or weaken both democracy and dictatorship(NAACP; NRA; Hitler Youth; Solidarity), and a strong civil society is not essential for democracy or economic success(Japan); it can hurt(Latin American unions). Civil society and the state are not rivals but complementary, and many groups get state funds. "Global" civil society may be ancient, artificial, even hateful.

Ted Galen Carpenter edit. Delusions of Grandeur: The United Nations and Global Intervention (Washington: Cato Institute 97):-Cato aims to further "traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, and peace." Libertarian view inclines it to oppose multilateralism(it inter alia limits US global freedom of action)and all constraints on free enterprise. Topics: UN in Perspective; Peacemaker-Peacekeeper; Bureaucracy-Funding- Corruption; Social and Environmental Agenda; Economic Development Role. 18 essays clearly stress Cato views. Only five sympathetic to UN aims/activities; 10 or so reasonable, even if bit selective or broad, in criticism. Last deliberately distort, and in their narrow-minded, selfish jingoism, exhibit true "delusions of grandeur": John Bolton: " [Clinton] forgot that UN was instrument to be used to advance America's foreign policy interests, not to engage in international social work..." (51; his emphasis)! Provides rationales of many US anti-UN views.

Nayan Chanda Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization(New Haven: Yale Univ Press 07):-this fascinating survey of the development of globalization since 6000BCE is valuable as a unique reminder - to specialists in history, politics, economics, religion, movement, technology, science, etc - of how their own knowledge relates to other specialized information, and to the present/future of the intense/expanding relations across this planet. (This aim corresponds exactly with my purpose in this information source.) Style is amusing, and novel in all areas but one's expertise, so it is delicious/constructive in all unstudied fields and hence globally constructive. Final para offers view that fits closely with that in Christopher Spencer Oct 06(op.cit.):"We benefit from all that the world has to offer, but we think only in narrow terms of protecting the land and people within our national borders - the borders that have been established only in the modern era. [All that separates us] from the rest of the world... cannot change the fact that we are bound together through the invisible filament of history. [W]e know how we have reached where we are and where we may be headed. We are in a position to know that the sum of human desires, aspirations, and fears that have woven our fates together can neither be disentangled nor reeled back. But neither are we capable of accurately gauging how this elemental mix will shape our planet's future. Still, compared to the past... we are better equipped to look over the horizon at both the dangers and the opportunities ...There is no alternative to rising above our tribal interests: over the centuries to come, our destinies will remain inextricably bound together. [W]e can attempt to nudge our rapidly integrating world toward a more harmonious course - because we are all connected".

Jennifer Clapp, "The Privatization of Global Environmental Governance: ISO 14000 and the Developing World" Global Governance Vol.4/No.3 (Jul-Sep 1998):- several global trends are discussed: (1) the increasing number and recognition of voluntary codes of conduct for private firms and standard-setting bodies; (2) the additional mixed public-private systems for creating international rules and procedures; (3) the profoundimpact of such standards on international environmental law; and (4) the small LDC role in the process, despite its major implications for both LDC laws and trade. A study of the seminal International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14000 series of environmental management standards serves to illustrate the above important trends.

Bruce Clark, "A Survey of NATO: Knights in Shining Armour?" (1-18)The Economist 24 Apr 99:-extremely useful in several respects. Provides history of NATO's gradually - now rapidly - changing role(s),(un)popularity,(dis)unity. Describes how "most successful military alliance in history" suddenly lost its raison d'etre; then altered from new trans-European-US security entity, swamped with new applicants and proud of its Bosnian role, to frustrated military giant in Kosovo, seen by many as having acted illegally and unnecessarily, with future dependent on solving complex puzzle of own making. Also outlines functional dilemmas facing military allies equipped/trained decades apart technologically. Finally, survey coversNATO's split over whether it plays global role in(UN-sponsored) multilateral combat interventions which it alone has weapons, training, cohesion to handle.

Walter J.Clemens Jr, Dynamics of International Relations: Conflict and Mutual Gain in an Era of Global Interdependence (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield 98):-well-organized introductory text on IR, helpful to students or those first looking at global issue(s). Chapters:(1)Is IR "Winner-Take-All?" Can It Be Mutual Gain?(2)How to Win at Peace: Creating New World Orders; (3)Foreign Policy Decision Making: Do Individuals Count?(4)Why Wage War? Does It Pay to Fight?(5)Power and Influence:What Wins? (6)Why Arm?Can Swords Become Plowshares? (7)Negotiating Conflict:How Can Foes Become Partners?(8)Nationalism and World Order: Peoples at Risk? (9)Intervention and Mediation: How Can Outsiders Help?(10)Democracy and Authoritarianism: What Impact on International Peace and Prosperity?(11)Wealth of Nations: West Meets East(12)Challenges of Development: South MeetsNorth(13) Transitions: Can Second World Join First?(14)Ecopolitics: Health of Nations (15)Organizing for Mutual Gain:UN, Europe and Nonstate Actors(16)International Protection of Human Rights:Sham or Revolution? (17)Alternative Futures.

 

Roger A. Coate edit.,U.S. Policy and the Future of the United Nations(New York: Twentieth Century Fund 94):-fine essays on UN political/organizational problems and realistic proposals retain global value sinceissues remain relevant and/or reforms underway. Spiers proposes administrative/structural/peacemaking/ financial reforms. Coate urges inter-agency/ intra- government coordination of UN system. Blechman looks at new intra-state conflict/ preventive action challenges. Graham surveys IAEA proliferation/enforcement needs. Abram urges enforcement of human rights/humanitarian law. Loescher examines new scale/originsof refugees/displaced persons. Gordenker discusses WHO role/problems. Sessions/Steever explore challenges/constraints on Commission on Sustainable Development. Leonard picks UN priorities: security/ economy/environment/humanitarian action/human rights.

 

Richard Cockett"Chasing the Rainbow: A Survey of South Africa"The Economist 08 Apr 06(1-12):-official summary of Survey: "Since end of apartheid, South Africa has moved closer to becoming the 'rainbow nation'of Nelson Mandela's vision. But not nearly close enough yet". Highlights of broad introductory essay: "South Africa has plotted its own course to relative stability, democracy and prosperity[, and is even] beginning to lead continent in entirely new way. [P]ost-apartheid government [African National Congress(ANC) now under President Thabo Mbeki] has managed to build 1.9m new homes, connect 4.5m households to electricity, provide 11m homes with running water. Targets for raising living standards aremost ambitious on the continent. However, South Africa still deeply scarred by legacy of apartheid[- with that] geography very much intact... Now sense of impatience over pace of change[:] for many...'rainbow nation'has slowed to a crawl[,so] government well aware of this, and now intervening in more areas of national life to try to speed up change. [Yet] from education to foreign policy to crime-fighting, people have found creative solutions to many of their problems. That creativity is South Africa's most impressive asset, and increasingly comes from poorest and historically most disadvantagedof communities - nowbuilding their own ladders out of poverty. [F]or all the good economic news, government is lookingpolitically more vulnerable than at any time since 1994 [defeat of apartheid] for simple reason: little [GDP]growth has benefited [ANC's] core supporters - poor and black. [U]nemployment [formally up to] about 27% [as new jobs] not enough to keep pace with number of new entrants into labour market. [O]ther big problem is rising inequality[:] number of people living on poverty line may be rising. [ANC economic]prudence paid off, bringing economic stability and launching consumer boom. But [it] did not create enough jobs[/investment]. So now ANC looking... at disgruntled activists who feel let down. [It plans]more money for program of social grants[mainly child support/pensions to about 10m out of 47m, plus]370b rand over next 3 years on public works, mainly infrastructure/tourism, to boost jobs and create more [leveling] demand. Longer-term aims: growth rate to 6% by 2010; halve unemployment/poverty by 2014. [Dangers] twin bottlenecks.:. severe skills shortage and failure to deliver services at local level".Final points, also in Editorial"Term Limits in Africa: When Enough Is Enough"(18):"With many leading politicians discredited, continent needs a strong South Africa. Also needs South Africa prepared to go beyond its strickly African agenda, and to deliver on its commitments to good governance, human rightsand democracy enshrined in new vision of African Union and Nepad [New Partnership for Africa's Development]. These are very much South Africa's creations. It is time for Africa's leading democracy to cast off its humility and diffidence - and perhaps even to throw its weight around for these causes".

 

Eliot A. Cohen, "History and the Hyperpower" Foreign Affairs Vol.83/No.4(Jul/Aug 04):-vast US scope, in comparison with any other state or group of states, gives it both capacities and opposition of past major empires(e.g. Rome, Britain), but its global interests/roles are unique and controversial. Author contendswell worth while to compare US positions and potential with historical styles/events/problems. "Historicalanalogy making rounds of late is notion that US today is an empire that can and should be compared with imperial powers of past...Casual talk of Pax Americana...implies that US is following pattern of imperial dominance that holds precedents and lessons. Metaphor of empire merits neither angry rejection nor gleeful embrace. It instead deserves careful scrutiny, because imperial history contains analogies and parallels that bear critically on current US predicament."

Andrew F.Cooper & J.-Stefan Fritz"Bringing the NGO's In: UNCED and Canada's International Environmental Policy" International Journal 47 (Autumn 1992): 796-817. - one of the important current issues in UN affairs is to what extent and in what way Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can and should be involved in global decision-making. Canada led this debate at Rio, if only by having NGO's participate in its delegation.

Richard N.Cooper"Toward a Real Global Warming Treaty"Foreign Affairs Vol.77/No.2 (Mar/Apr 98):-author argues that agreement reached at the 1997 Kyoto Global Warming Conference, i.e. to undertake to negotiate national rights to greenhouse gas emissions, is unworkable for a number of reasons, including fact that the proposal is unacceptable to the developing countries. He believes that a successful attack on global warming will only succeed through mutually agreed-upon actions , and in particular through a global price disincentive i.e. a carbon tax. For a well-informed counter-argument see Stuart Eizenstat (op. cit.). For an account of the problems faced by Britain in implementing the agreement, see "Climate Change: A Taxing Issue" (56-7) The Economist 27 Jun 98.

Gwyneth Cravens Power To Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy(New York: Alfred A.Knopf 07):-valuable source at a time when nuclear power once again gaining global popularity in light of climate change threats from fossil fuel emissions. While text is 450pp long and partly technological/scientific, it appears carefully and honestly drafted, and able to be used "here-and-there" as a source. Editorial summary is itself impressive, e.g."...On the nuclear tour, Cravens converses with scientists from many disciplines, public health and counterterrorism experts, engineers, and researchers who study both the harmful and benign effects of radiation; she watches remote-controlled robotic manipulators unbolt a canister of spent uranium fuel inside a 'hot cell' bathed in eerie orange light; observes the dark haze from fossil-fuel combustion obscuring once-pristine... skies and the leaky, rusted pipes and sooty puddles in a coal-fired plant; glimpses rainbows made by salt dust in the deep subterranean corridors of a working nuclear waste repository. She refutes the major arguments against nuclear power one by one... And she demonstrates how, time and again, political fearmongering and misperceptions about risk have trumped science in the dialogue about the feasibility of nuclear energy. In the end, we see how nuclear power has been successfully and economically harnessed... around the globe to become the single largest displacer of greenhouse gases, and how its overall risks and benefits compare with those of other energy sources. [A]n eloquent, convincing argument for nuclear power as a safe energy source and an essential deterrent to global warming".

Barbara Crossette, "Rethinking Population at a Global Milestone" ;Nicholas Wade, "Now, You Can Have 5,999,999,999 Friends" ; "Why Malthus Was Wrong" New York Times 19 Sep 99:-article and notes offeringfacts/ideas on world population. UN says pass 6 billion about 12 Oct 99; growth rate: 1.31%(about 80m)/year or 148 people/ minute; life expectancy: 65 years; current projected world total in 2050: 8.9 billion. Regarding Malthus, substantive point is that innovation has enabled food production to increasemuch faster than was anticipated in 1798. (While population growth cannot produce global famine, seriouslocal food/people imbalances cause 40 million a year to die of hunger.) Article compares population problems/policies of autocratic China(1.2b)and democratic India(1b, but faster growth). China more successful improving human conditions, but many factors affect policy choice/impact.

Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder(New York: Houghton Mifflin 98):-assumption is that people are increasingly aware of global scale of many human problems. Yet rapidly expanding knowledge of scientific facts and forces not only created suchawareness, but many global problems themselves. Also science's understanding of human evolution can bring profound feelings of cosmic insignificance and purposelessness. Yet many specialists in fields draw quite different conclusions. Dawkins is one and may well be best person clarifying science for non-experts. His other famous books:Climbing Mount Improbable(New York: W.W.Norton, 96);The Selfish Gene: New Edition(Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992);The Blind Watchmaker(Harlow: Longman S&T 86). More thansimply populariser of science, Dawkins has capacity to explain variety of complex and debated conceptsin easily understood way, with amusing examples. His clear priority and speciality is to defend Darwinism, and educate non-specialists about latest scientific thinking on how and why evolution takes place. His 1998 book has particular aim of demonstrating that purely scientific view of life and universe need not be empty/ purposeless, but can be extremely uplifting. However, he offers fascinating new information in several fields. For short(160pp)explanation of evolution and its implications, in Science Masters Series, see River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life(New York: Basic Books 95). Here Dawkins carefully addressesseveral sincere "Creation-" and/or "Purpose-related" critiques of modern evolution and biological theory. He ends discussion of how "replication" transformed Earth with hope that better understanding of our place in universe "might have some beneficial effects upon our normally parochial little consciousnesses" .

Richard Dawkins The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life(London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 04/Phoenix of Orion Books 05):-author's description of the 700 pages describing this planet's living history since life began: "Tale is a pilgrimage: a journey of four billion years. We, modern human beings, are the pilgrims, and we are travelling back in time to seek out our ancestors. Simultaneously every other living creature is setting off on its own journey with the same mission. Each pilgrim tells its tale along the way, and covers the processes involved in the unfolding of life on Earth". The 40+ chapters describe in turn the form(s) of life progressively in or from more distant periods, offering the best available scientific knowledge/theory, including of course many fossils, and their estimated dates. While much of the necessary vocabulary used is complex, Dawkins writes generously - and often amusingly - for non-scientist readers. Among the many favourable reviews carried in the introduction is one by John Cornwell of Sunday Times: "Beautifully written... Dawkins's account cites a stunning array of biologists past and present. No other book gives such an impression of sheer intellectual vitality and pluralism among the past century's evolutionary scientists. Virtually every page exemplifies a memorable insight into the strangeness and prodigality of nature, its culs-de-sac and its extraordinary leaps". I have read the long text, but each chapter can be read alone.

Anthony DePalma "The'Slippery Slope'of Patenting Farmers' Crops" New York Times 24 May 00:-as noted elsewhere, much of controversy over genetically modified organisms(GMO)derives from their high costs in R&D and consequent concern of biotechnology companies to ensure "adequate returns" through patents(or intellectual property rights(IPRs); see Paarlberg)relating to their products. Most infamous patent defenses were "terminator genes" in cereal seeds that could not reproduce, and thus prevented re-seeding(Economist 9 Oct 99).This ensured annual seed purchases -and prohibitive costs in Third World. DePalma reports CIMMYT, Green Revolution's famous non-profit International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, though founded to make high-yield products available free to Third World,has had to start patenting its work as defensive tactic to block attempts by others to patent its discoveries and thus keep small farmers from using them. Before companies/countries contribute to CIMMYT's research, they also require patents in own self-defense. Consolation: reproductive genes will be included in seeds distributed in Third World. Another GMO patent-related development reported in DePalma/Simon Romero "Super Seeds Sweeping Major Markets, and Brazil May Be Next" NYT 16 May. US, Brazil, Argentinatogether grow 80% of world's 157m tonnes of soybeans annually, but have different rules for GMvarieties. In US several conditions must be met: for Monsanto, farmers pay fee for each bag of seed, agree not to save seed for following year ( "terminator" seeds were dropped after outcry)and accept inspections if claim to have stopped using seed. In Argentina, where perhaps 90% of soybean crop genetically altered, but its patents not recognized, effectively no rules. In Brazil, use of altered varieties not(yet)legal, but clearly smuggled in; to 30% of soybeans may already be uncontrolled GMO. "Global regulatory mechanism" obviously needed. Meanwhile, US regulations tightened further. Associated Press reported 03 May "F.D.A. Announces New Steps for Regulation of Biotech Food" according to which US Food and Drug Administration will require biotech companies to notify it at least four months before releasing "new genetically engineered ingredients for food and animal feed" and to provide their research data. FDA will also set" truthful and informative" standards for food processors wanting to label products made with/without such ingredients. Also, mainly response to new consumer concerns, North American retailfood industry/exporters facing novel problems in separating out GM products, because of explosive increase in use/saving. Some major food companies stopped sales of selected GM-based products,according to David Barboza in "Modified Foods Put Companies in a Quandary" NYT 03 Jun. However none has found it feasible to abandon biotech ingredients entirely, since about 70% of US grocery-store food may have been made with genetically altered crops. Related dilemma arisen in Europe. Donald G. McNeil Jr. "Anxiety on Genetically Altered Seed Spreads in Europe" NYT 20 May, reports on divergent reactionsof British, French, Swedish governments on discovering tiny amount in one seed variety in order of long-planted Canadian canola had inadvertently carried genetically-modified trait.

 

Elaine Dewar Cloak of Green: The Links Between Key Environmental Groups, Government and Big Business(Toronto: James Lorimer & Co. 95):-goes into considerable detail about networking that goes on - including for UN conferences - between NGO's, MNC's and officials. As a former Canadian enviro-diplomat and National Defence College member, I realize only in retrospect what malign power I wielded!

 

A. Walter Dorn edit., World Order for a New Millennium: Political, Cultural and Spiritual Approaches to Building Peace(New York: St. Martin's Press 99):-selected conference statements with diverse speakers, sochapters vary by viewpoint/ideals, plus topic.Part I.Political and Institutional Approaches:Evolution ofWorld Order(conceptions (Anatol Rapoport);international law history;disarmament compliance;corporatecapitalism and/or market socialism; order by trade/investment decree);Military(Cold War nuclear mishaps;decline of major wars;Third World militarization); United Nations(world challenges(text inINTRODUCTION, with "institutional" material added); recent UN environment agreements; monitoring UN enforcement(UNSCOM); International Criminal Court; realistic UN reforms). Part II.Cultural and Spiritual Approaches: Developing a Culture of Peace(coordinating official/non-official diplomacy;civil society platforms; relevant UNESCO appeals;education of ethics);Spiritual Dimensions(2 Christian views, Jewish view, 2 Buddhist views, First Nations view, syncretistic view, Baha'i view, UN role). Declaration.

Daniel W.Drezner All Politics Is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes(Princeton & Oxford: Princeton Univ Press 07):-as The Economist 18 Mar 07 admits in specially favourable review "International Relations: An Interconnected World": book is "too nuanced and academic for easy reading", but concludes significantly "Drezner... finds that the challenges of the future will be increasingly transnational. As globalisation intensifies, the rewards for coordination will increase as well. To achieve success, essential not to eliminate international institutions but rather to understand their utility... Key to their success lies in convincing leading governments of the gains from acting in cooperation, rather than isolation, in volatile but interconnected world -message that surely applies well beyond esoteric world of trade". [Another support for my own - tough but essential - global urgency: op.cit. Christopher Spencer]. Suggest you read short Chapter One which summarizes Drezner's book in simplest explanation. "Regulation of global economy is intrinsically important. Markets rely on rules, customs, and institutions to function properly. Global markets need global rules and institutions to work efficiently. The presence or absence of these rules and institutions and their content and enforcement, is the subject of this book. In a globalizing economy, what are the rules? Who makes them? How are they made?"(6). Issue areas analysed by chapters to study relative roles of (top) governments/institutions/NGOs: Internet, International Finance, Genetically Modified Organisms, TRIPS and Public Health.

Celia W.Dugger"U.N. vs Poverty: Seeking a Focus, Quarreling Over the Vision"NYT 14 Sep 05:-this itemleads a discouraging collection of inter-related historical articles, most inevitably summarized by a bit more than their strong titles/introductory sentences. All relate to a globally critical summit of some 170 heads of state/government. They marked seriously the 60th anniversary of the United Nations 14-16 Sep 05 when, vital reforms and international poverty commitments having been discussed, some are adopted- in full or vague status - but many more are both left required and postponed. Dugger:"The United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) meeting today was to have been a rare moment when quest to relieve crushing poverty of a billion people took center stage. But so far that goal has been overshadowed by [current disasters] and squabbling over reform of UN itself. Even debate about world's common agenda on global poverty began on an unexpectedly sour note, centred around goals for healing world's deepest poverty that were to be in meeting's final document. US ambassador, John R. Bolton, initially proposed expunging any reference to specific goals for reducing poverty, hunger and child mortality andcombating pandemic of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Known as Millennium Development Goals[MDGs], they emerged from UN conference five years ago. He favored instead citing broad declaration from which goals were drawn. US subsequently relented, but not before US administration's opening in negotiations left some African leaders dismayed... Negotiations at UN got absorbed by issues around UN reform... It is not clear that much new will emerge at UN. World leaders are likely to affirm commitment to push forward with MDGs to halve extreme poverty and hunger, cut child mortality by two-thirds and ensure basic education of each child by 23015, among other things.Those are same broad goals agreed to five years ago"; Warren Hoge"U.N. Adopts Modest Goals on Reforms and Poverty"NYT 14 Sep 05:-"UNGA unanimously approved scaled-down statement of goals [13 Sep] that Secretary General [UNSG] Kofi Annan said would still give world leaders gathering [14 Sep] basis for recommendation to reform organization and combat poverty. Loud cheers from delegates, however, could not disguise widespread disappointment at weakening of 35-page document"; David E.Sanger & Warren Hoge"Bush Thanks World Leaders and Takes Conciliatory Tone"NYT 15 Sep 05:-President Bush, facing array of world leaders who are deeply divided on how to define terrorism or act against nuclear proliferation/poverty, struck conciliatory tone at UN [14 Sep], describing himself as grateful leader of superpower in recent days... Speech...came hours after UNGA greatly watered down what had once been ambitious plans for institutional change and for commitments to fight terrorism/nuclear arms... He balanced his discussion of need to chase down terrorists with his endorsement of set of antipoverty objectives... 'No nation canremain isolated/indifferent to struggles of others' ... He pressed for UNSC resolution commiting countriesto prosecute - and extradite - anyone seeking fissile materials or technology for nuclear devices... But Bush did not repeat his previous calls to bar any new country from producing enriched uranium orplutonium. In references to goals for poverty reduction, he cited not only MDGs but also another initiative that grew out of summit meeting in Monterrey, Mexico. There, poor nations agreed to fight corruption and improve governance, and rich nations commited to 'make concrete efforts' toward giving 0.7% national income in aid. Bush did not address aid issue, but advocates said they hoped endorsement of Monterray would make harder for US to continue to oppose such aid targets"; Reuters"World Leaders Seek to Invigorate UN at Age 60"NYT 14 Sep 05:-"Leaders explore ways to revitalize UN at summit, buttheir bluepoint falls short of UNSG vision of freedom from want, persecution and war... [S]ession marking60th anniversary of world body suffering from corruption scandals and sharp divisions among memberson how to tackle international crises... UNSG in 85p paper in Mar entitled 'In Larger Freedom', addressed challenges for 21st century that required collective action: alleviating extreme poverty, reversing AIDS pandemic, global security, terrorism and human rights. But after bitter negotiations over last few weeks,nearly every bold initiative suffered cutbacks in final 38p document approved by UNGA for endorsementat summit... Still, somewhat emasculated document saved summit from failure. UN officials highlighted initiatives, including new human rights body, Peacebuilding Commission to help nations emerging from war and perhaps most significantly, obligation to intervene when civilians face genocide/war crimes... Butnegotiators failed to agree on how to tackle nuclear proliferation or on definition of terrorism sought by Western nations, and fell short of commitments to greater aid and tearing down trade barriers developing nations wanted"; AP"Annan Appeals to World Leaders at Summit"NYT 14 Sep 05:-"UNSG Kofi Annanappealed [14 Sep] to world leaders...to help restore confidence in world body and act together to meet challenges of new century... Annan said document they will adopt at end of 3-day summit was 'good start'but not 'sweeping and fundamental reform'he proposed. He called for urgent action on tough, unresolved issues. 'Because one thing has emerged clearly from this process on which we embarked two years ago: whatever our differences, in our interdependent world, we stand or fall together', UNSG said.'Whether our challenge is peacemaking, nation-building, democratization or responding to natural or man-made disasters, we have seen that even the strongest among us cannot succeed alone'... In what he call 'a high-risk gamble', UNSG and incoming/outgoing presidents of UNGA decided to drop issues where there was no agreement, choose language for which they thought they could win consent, andpresent clean text to member states. It worked"; AP"Bush Focuses on Terror in Speech to U.N."NYT 14 Sep 05:-"Before skeptical world leaders, President Bush [14 Sep] urged compassion for the needy and pressed global community to 'put the terrorists on notice'by cracking down on any activities that could incite deadly attacks. Bush... was seeking to sell his blueprints for spreading democracy in Iraq and elsewhere, overhauling UN and expanding trade"; AP"Chiefs of U.N. Agencies Appeal to Donors"NYT14 Sep 05:-"UN refugee and food agencies' chiefs said [14 Sep] that international donors are not doing enough to help alleviate shortages of survival rations in refugee camps across Africa. Because of lack of funds, World Food Program has been forced to cut rations for hundreds of thousands of refugees, particularly in West Africa and Great Lakes region in east of continent"; AP"Mexico's Fox OK With U.N. Reform Document"NYT 14 Sep:-"Mexican President Vicente Fox said [14 Sep] that he and the rest of theGroup of 15 developing nations think UN reform document approved this week is a step in the right direction, but stressed it is only first step... The 35-page document is supposed to launch a major reform of UN itself and galvanize efforts to ease global poverty. But to reach consensus, most of text's details gutted in favor of abstract language. UNSG had hoped that in addition to addressing UN overhaul, document would outline specific actions for improving the lot of the poor and tackling genocide, terrorism and human rights. But nations couldn't bridge their difference during negotiations. Group of 15developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America was set up to foster cooperation in dealing withinternational groups such as World Trade Organization and the Group of Seven rich industrialized nations"; AP"Annan Seeks to Restore U.N. Credibility"NYT 14 Sep 05:-"After a year of mounting criticism,UNSG Annan defended UN [14 Sep] and urged global leaders to restore organization's credibility by adopting broad reforms needed for world to act together to tackle poverty, terrorism and conflict...Instead of a celebration of UN achievements since its founding in ashes of WWII, summit was much more a somber reappraisal of its shortcomings and a debate about how to meet the daunting challenges ofa world becoming moreand more interlinked"; Reuters"World Leaders United on Terrorism"NYT 14 Sep 05:-"World leaders united [14 Sep] on need to ban incitement of terrorism but fell short of ambitions forfundamental reform of UN...Negotiations on the summit document world leaders are to endorse dropped disarmament proposals from Norway and South Africa, backed by about 80 nations. US objected to calls for nuclear disarmament but stressed danger of terrorists and rogue states obtaining unconventional weapons... In veiled criticism of US, world's richest nation, Dutch PM... said Europeans had agreed to boost development aid spending but 'we need to see more equal burden-sharing'"; AP"Annan Seeks to Restore U.N.'s Credibility"NYT 15 Sep 05:-"Bitter differences among UN member states have blocked many crucial UN reforms, and nations must act boldly to restore the world body's credibility, UNSG told summit of world leaders... Coming into the summit, diplomats had to dilute a document on goals for tackling rights abuses, terrorism and UN reform because they couldn't settle their disputes"; Financial Times"Shifting Positions at the UN World Summit"NYT 15 Sep 05:-"Fact that US and China have both become simultaneous aid donors and recipients says much about changing global society. World ismuch more diffuse in power than traditional stereotypes allowed... US is rich, and its military power iscommanding, but US ability to impose its will on world is limited... China, as well as India, Brazil and some other developing countries, is gaining economic power, especially through rapid absorption ofadvanced technologies and emergence of home-grown scientific prowess... [E]verything points to vastinternational diffusion of scientific expertise in coming decades... US will likely become more rather than less engaged as donor country in Africa and elsewhere... [I]dea of a US empire astride the world in 21st century will go... [C]ertainly the most important issue, hardly noted at [UN] world summit, is that rise of China, India, and other regional powers will intensify growing and multiple pressures on global environment and resource base... As a crowded world of 6.5 billion on its way to 9 billion people by mid-century, and with rising risks/complexities all around us, we are all both donors and recipients now. We are all in this together, and we had better get used to that reality"; The Economist 15 Sep 05"United Nations Reform: Better Than Nothing"(p.33 in 17 Sep NA issue):- "Annan sought to explain why a draftdeclaration on UN reform and tackling world poverty, to be endorsed by some 150 heads of state/government... has turned into such a pale shadow of proposals he himself put forward. 'With 191 member states' , he sighed, 'its not easy to get agreement'. Most countries put the blame on US, in the form of its abrasive new ambassador, John Bolton, for insisting at end of Aug on hundreds of last-minute amendments and line-by-line renegotiation of a text most others had thought was almost settled. Buta group of middle-income developing nations... also came up with plenty of last-minute changes of their own. Risk of having no document at all... was averted only by marathon talks... The 35-page final document not wholly devoid of substance. It calls for creation of a Peacebuilding Commission to supervise reconstruction of countries after wars; replacement of discreditied Commission on Human Rights by supposedly tougher Human Rights Council; recognition of a new 'responsibility to protect'peoples from genocide and other atrocities when national authorities fail to take action, if necessary by force; and 'early'reform of UNSC. Although much pared down, all these proposals have at least survived.Others have not. Either...so contentious they were omitted altogether, such as sections on disarmament/non-proliferation/ICC, or they were watered down to little more than empty platitudes: no longer evenmentions vexed issue of pre-eminent strikes. [M]eanwhile, section on terrorism condemns it 'in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes' , but fails to provide clear definition US wanted... Now up to UNGA to flesh out document's skeleton proposals and propose new ones. But its chances of success appear slim"; Steven R.Weisman"A Frustrating Week at the U.N. for the White House Team"NYT 16 Sep 05:-"[R]ebellion by countries outside the ambit of Europe and US appears to have thwarted some of the changes sought at UN. Bush officials insist that they arepleased with some of the changes adopted by UNGA, notably a broad definition of terrorism. They saytried to address wishes of developing world by agreeing at last minute to endorse specific goals to increase foreign aid. But when it came time to adopt stringent budgetary changes at UN,cementing fiscaland personnel authority with Secretariat under Kofi Annan and taking some of it away from UNGA, thevotes were not there. Neither were there enough votes to scrap UN Human Rights Commission and replace it with a council that would not be led by countries like Sudan or Cuba, which US and its allies consider bad actors in human rights sphere. The scandals of last couple of years in oil-for-food problem in Iraq, with favoritism and corruption in awarding of contracts, might have been avoided if UNSG's office had exercised greater control over the budget and personnel, now in hands of a committee made up of all members of UNGA. 'The way UN is run, the vast number of less developed countries sitting in UNGA hold the power of the purse', a diplomat at UN said. 'A lot of developing countries see giving moreauthority to UNSG as ploy by US and Europeans to take more control of UN'"; AP"Rice Urges 'Revolution of Reform'at U.N."NYT 17 Sep 05:-"UN must make itself more relevant to tackle 21st century problems... Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said [17 Sep]. 'In this new world, we must again embrace challenge of building for the future'. World leaders...adopted watered-down version of proposed reforms...'Time to reform UN is now', she said. 'And we must seize this opportunity together'... 'No cause, no movement, and no grievance can justify intentional killing of innocent civilians and noncombatants. This isunacceptable by any moral standard'. UNSG [had] said condemnation of terrorism must be unqualifiedand that... should 'forge a global counterterrorism strategy that weakens terrorists and strengthens international community'... Rice called on rich countries to help poor ones with development assistance... She said new [human rights] council... should have more credibility. [That] means should 'never, never empower brutal dictatorships to sit in judgement of responsible democracies' ... Rice has locked arms with Annan on reform, declaring him an effective manager, with whom she can work closely. 'I havenever had a better relationship with anyone than Kofi Annan', Rice said, thereby separating US concerns about management flaws and corruption from world body's top diplomat"; Warren Hoge"Bolton and U.N. Are Still Standing After His First Test"NYT 17 Sep 05:-"Fellow ambassadors say they are impressed with[John] Bolton's work ethic, his knowledge of his brief, clarity in declaring it and his toughness as anegotiator... Some delegates, however,faulted him for emphasizing what US would never accept, saying it ended up encouraging more active opposition to US positions. They complained he devoted too much time to talking about US 'red lines' and about the red pen he had in his pocket at the ready. Those who feared Bolton came with devil's horns thought they saw them spring forth 3 weeks ago when he submitted more than 400 substantive amendments and deletions, and ordered up a line-by-line renegotiation of summit document. One of recommendations was to eliminate all mention of a series of antipoverty measures called MDGs. Surprise attack on cherished standard sent shock waves across UN where officials had grown hopeful that Bush administration's hostility to UN had significantly lessened,particularly after supportive comments from [Rice] and State Department opposition to calls for US to withhold its UN dues. A week later, phase was restored at Rice's direction, and Bush declared in his speech to UNGA, 'We are committed to MDGs' . So a question arose about whether Bolton had beencarrying out traditional mission of executing State Department policy or originating his own more assertive view... John G.Ruggie,...Harvard... said he thought Bolton's approach had emboldened opponents of US priorities, like reforming UN management structure to give more power and flexibilityto UNSG. 'After Bolton's bombshell, they were able to make case that this is why we have to stand firm, because if we give great discretionary authority to UNSG, danger US will roll over him, and behind him always stands Congress willing to withhold funding', he said. Bolton said purpose in calling for line-by-line renegotiation was to avoid having text by 'nameless, faceless textwriters' , a reference to writing staff of UNGA president Jean Ping of Gabon. But in the end such a text proved to be only way to get consensus. Three weeks of wrestling with language had left document on [13 Sep a.m.] with 27 unsolved issues and 149 phrases in brackets, meaning they were still in dispute. Decision was made to presentambassadors with final version refined by Ping, and it was that text UNGA endorsed [13 Sep p.m.], just hours before arrival of world leaders. Much of positive reaction to Bolton has come from how he did not live up to his negative reviews"; AP"Chavez Criticizes U.N. Reforms in Speech"NYT 17 Sep 05:-"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticized UN reforms [17 Sep] saying they [section of Peacebuilding Commission] would permit powerful countries [to] invade developing ones whose leaders are considered a threat"; Reuters"Annan Defends Summit"NYT 17 Sep 05:-"UNSG put brave face on [17 Sep]on modest reforms to the work of UN, but [Rice] said world body needed nothing short of revolution to become real force... Annan sought to highlight the positive... 'Scale of this achievement seems to have been missed by some...So let's make sure we live up to our promises to the world's poor'. Among gainswere unprecedented agreement on international responsibility to intervene to protect civilians from genocide, establishment of peace-building commission to help nations recover from war and areaffirmation of goals set in 2000 to halve poverty by 2015. But the document fudged definition of what constitutes terrorism, reached no agreement on how to deal with spread of weapons of mass destructionand did little on far-reaching reforms to UN's bureaucracy or its decision-making. 'UN must launch lasting revolution of reform', [Rice] said. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who chairs 53-memberAfrican Union, said terrorism could not be 'justified under any circumstances' . But he said a dangerous correlation existed between grinding poverty and political instability"; Reuters"Like Fixing the Weather, Council Reform Eludes UN"NYT 18 Sep 05:-"Closest UN came to expanding 15-member UN Security Council(UNSC) was considered a plan by Germany, Japan, India and Brazil last spring. But moment came and went without a vote. National rivalries across and within each regional group run high, although...pledged to do something by end of year... Leaders from four candidates, known as Group of Four(G-4)... decided to put their resolution back on table. But participants at the session said there was no strategy of how or when to do this... UNSG, after decade of debate, urged UN members in Mar to come to decision world leaders could endorse, arguing that UNSC, which decides on war and peace, sanctions and peacekeeping, still reflected balance of power at end of WWII. But 35-page document world leadersendorsed on UN reforms had only one sentence on need for 15-member UNSC to become 'more broadly representative, more efficient and transparent'. On this, compromise nearly impossible as UNSC seats meant winners and losers, with each candidate having drawn enough opposition to prevent resolution from gaining two-thirds vote in 191-member UNGA. UNSC currently has 10 nonpermanent seats, rotating for two-year terms, and five permanent members with veto power - US, Russia, Britain, China, and France, considered WWII victors. To begin UNSC expansion, 191-member UNGA must approve a framework,without names of candidates, by two-thirds vote, with each member casting one vote. Last step in process is UN Charter change, which must be approved by national legislatures, and here current five permanentmembers have veto power... Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, whose plan also called for two permanent seats from Africa [Egypt? South Africa?], had hoped for deal with 53-member African Union, which has a similar proposal. But Africans insisted new permanent members have veto power, which the four aspirants dropped because of opposition from current five UNSC powers"; AP"Leaders at U.N. Seek Anti - Terror Treaty"NYT 19 Sep 05:-"Leaders at UNGA urged quick adoption of comprehensive global treatythat would put words into action. But one issue in particular is causing trouble - how to define terrorism amid concern independence struggles would be targeted. [R]esolution accepted unanimously by UNSC on sidelines of UN summit last week also called upon all states to prohibit and prevent terrorism and deny a safe haven to anyone considered guilty of such conduct. But delegates stressed need for abroader convention that would serve as a framework for governments to work together to curtailinternational terrorism"; AP"U.N. Assembly Focuses on World's Poor"NYT 19 Sep 05:-"Leaders fromdeveloping nations took speaker's platform on second day of annual UNGA debate to criticize rich countriesfor not doing enough to ease plight of world's poorest people. Speakers from Africa, Asia and Latin America said [18 Sep] they were encouraged by document adopted at three-day summit renewing commitments to alleviate poverty, but said they would withhold final judgment until rich nations make good on their vows... Leaders of poor nations made clear that they were not impressed with progress made so far. A week ago, UN report said about 40% of world's people still struggle to survive on less than $2/day. Jamaica's PM, speaking on behalf of Group of 77 developing countries, repeated what has been largely acknowledged by many UN and outside officials: world nowhere close to meeting the development goals"; Reuters"UN Refugee Boss Says World Tackling Past Failures"NYT 27 Sep 05:-"International community has woken up to tragedy of the millions who are refugees in their own country and begun to act, head of UN refugee agency[UN High Commissioner for Refugees] said. Internal refugees - known as internally displaced people (IDPs) - number 20-25million, more than double the nine million refugees who are recognized as such because they have crossed a border, and their plight is often just as bad, said UNHCR... UN was finalizing a more vigorous approach to a problem which is particularlyacute in sub-Saharan Africa... Crux of the new policy was that for first time UN agencies, and otherhumanitarian organizations, given specific roles and responsibilities - for which they could be held to account - in handling any IDP crisis. In case of UNHCR, which already handles some IDP situations on an ad hoc basis, it would manage camps, provide shelter and tackle issues of protection for those considered to be in danger of persecution. Move should also be seen in context of changing international attitudes to sovereignty, with recent UNGA resolutions stressing obligations governments had to protect their citizens - indicating a more assertive stance on the part of global body"; AP"U.N. Envoy Says Reforms Have Started"NYT 28 Sep 05:-"President Bush's hard-charging ambassador to UN, [John R.Bolton,] told skeptical members of Congress [28 Sep] US 'didn't get everything we wanted'in agreement to reform UN bureaucracy, but it is a start... Bolton cast US vote for watered-down reform document with obvious disappointment after weeks of wrangling. Document backed off bureaucratic and other changes... Bolton is expected to follow up with new resolutions, but it is not clear how muchappetite UN diplomats will have for subject now. The House has passed measure... that establishes a timetable for reform and ties progress to payment of US dues. Senate has not passed measure. Bushadministration does not want to use dues as leverage"; AP"Japan Rethinking Plan for Security Council"NYT 30 Sep 05:-"Japan has warned Congress that US legislation seeking to withhold UN dues could lead Japanese lawmakers to take similar action, possibly resulting in loss of millions of dollars to world body...Japan pays 19.5% of annual UN budget of about $2billion, second only to US, which pays about 22%".

Gwynne Dyer Climate Wars (Random House Canada 08):-the number of substantial essays and broad publications being written on climate change globally by either science-specialists or policy-concerned writers has become large in 2009. The widely-known author of this book, however, argues that the military impact of a warmer world has not been discussed publicly, even if analyses have been probed. The following is therefore his rationale of publication: "In a number of the great powers, climate change scenarios are already playing a large and increasing role in the military planning process. Rationally, you would expect this to be the case, because each country pays its professional military establishment to identify and counter 'threats' to its security, but the implications of their scenarios are still alarming. There is a significant probability of wars, including even nuclear wars, if we ever reach the range of +2 to +3 degrees Celsius hotter. Once that happens, all hope of international cooperation to curb emissions and stop the warming goes out the window"(from second page of his Introduction and dust-cover). The text contains two elements of special interest. The first consists of seven short but credible and worrisome scenarios, each dated some time in the future, and describing violent events in a region suffering from the experience of climate change. The other is the author's carefully quoted experts' views on technical details, obtained at his many 2008 personal interviews.

Gregg Easterbrook A Moment on the Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism(New York: Penguin 95):- environmentalist concerned with rate of population growth etc. nevertheless argues: those who overstate likelihood, scale or imminence of eco-disaster will ultimately hurt their own case. For somewhat tongue-in-cheek argument that doom scenarios come in predictable cycles, plus Simon/Club of Rome debate(Meadows op.cit.)see "Environmental Scares" The Economist 20 Dec 97(19-21).For later/more objective books on history of man's effect on environment, and related US political developmentsrespectively, favourable Reviews in Economist 18 Nov 00 "The Environment: Earth Shattering" (101-2).Books: John R. McNeill Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World(New York: Norton 00);Philip Shabecoff Earth Rising: American Environmentalism in the 21st Century(New York: Island Press 00).Both expect major eco-activity now.

 

Erik Eckholm, "Environment Conference Agrees to Help Poor Nations Protect Ozone" New York Times 4 Dec 99:-129-country UN environmental conference in Beijing has agreed that additional $440 million will be provided over next three years to help poor countries stop producing/using chemicals that harm ozone layer. 1987 Montreal Protocol aims at eliminating all ozone-depleting substances, especially chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs), that thin protective atmospheric layer of ozone that blocks harmful ultra-violet rays.Developed countries have almost completely converted to CFC replacements for use in air-conditioners/refrigerators, but poor countries(Brazil, China, India)were given until 2010 to stop their production/use and had already received $1 billion to cover costs. Although world use of major ozone-destroyers has now declined by 85%, ozone holes/thinning continue to grow due to slow atmospheric effects.

 

The Economist 11 Jul 98"Absurdly Green"(15)and"Energy Policy: A Nuclear Waste"(64-5):- Swedes voted in 1980 to phase out all nuclear power gradually, but the government now plans to shut down two reactors well before the end of their working lives. These essays argue that: the plants are hugely expensive to build or demolish, but extremely cheap to run, so closing them is very bad economics; renewable energy can replace only a fraction of the lost power, which will have to be made up by coal or gas, thus producing much greenhouse gas; the volume of radioactive waste will be little affected; the reactors are very safe, unlike former Soviet reactors, from whom Nordics may now have to demand more power. The best safety investment for the Swedes is to improve these.

 

The Economist 01 Aug 98: "The Limits to Growth?" (67-8): - the article discusses the history, and the recentmembership, financial, and issue changes in the activist environmental organization, Greenpeace. Since new ecological issues, and environmental concerns generally, are becoming less media-attracting in the West, both are being sought more in Japan and the South. However, their ecological priorities and perspectives are different.

 

The Economist 05 Sep 98:"Chemical Weapons: Burning Away the Horrors" (24-5). - two articles deal with the US program for implementing the CWC by destroying its stocks of chemical weapons and cleaning up their sites (the estimated minimum cost is $15 billion). The sites are found in eight locations on the US mainland, and the articles describe the plans and problems at two of them. Both of these contain stocks of GB(sarin)-filled M55 rockets, the nerve agent carriers considered the most dangerous to store. The issuesraised include the best method of destruction (incineration or neutralization), the local socio-economic impact of the activities, and the controversial administrative and security systems entailed.

 

The Economist 07 Nov 98 "Environmental Policy: Hot Market" (65):-useful/somewhat surprising background "sitrep" on Nov 98 Buenos Aires UN conference on global warning. While key developing countries(China and India)continue to refuse even voluntary emission reductions, OECD forward movement now encouraged by major corporations - including oil companies. Current focus is on creating internationalmarket to trade emission rights -strongly pushed by US as most flexible and least expensive solution(Grubb op.cit.), but also proposed for intra-firm deals. [Bush of course took anti-Kyoto Protocol position in general.]

 

The Economist 08 May 99 "Come Together, If You Can" (48):-summarizes report by UN Development Programentitled "Global Public Goods" (Oxford Univ. Press 99)urging greater global information exchange, particularly for benefit of poor who suffer most for lack of it in information society. Proposal is to systematically record common problems and solutions, and to assess every nation's total exports, including ideas/patents/pollution/diseases/crime/other `externalities' so that "fuller picture could...be drawn of inequality/depletion of natural resources/financial instabilities/other threats to development" . "Knowledge bank" could then be set up to give poor states better access to new ideas and technology, assist policymakers, and promote international cooperation, e.g. for law enforcement. Compiling information clearly in global interest, and(computer)distribution costs are small.

 

The Economist 08 May 99:" Free Trade in Peril" (12) and "Trade: At Daggers Drawn" (17-20): -both the editorial and essay claim the current US-EU disputes over bananas, beef and genetically modified foods (all Economistop. cit.) threaten not only the WTO but the future of free trade. The disputes are updated, but emphasis is oninstitutional and economic issues: (1) with globalization, WTO members are no longer debating external tariffs or NTBs whose costs can be "balanced" . Current disputes derive from politically sensitive domestic policy issues such as food safety and environmental protection, and hence are much less negotiable; (2) the WTO is deadlocked over the choice of Director-General, largely along North-South lines; (3)both US and EU find it hard to make concessions now(elections/ economic problems); (4) the WTO is making quasi-judicial, rulings on political issues, and may be ignored. Perhaps it needs (IMF-type) Executive Committee. Letters to The Economist 22 May 99 from the Colombian and Mexican WTO missions report an LDC advisory center on WTO law is planned, and that LDCs are seeking agreed WTO election statement. 24 Jul 99 issue (70) reports on the agreement that Mike Moore(NZ) and Supachai Panitchpakdi (Thailand) would each take three-year terms as WTO Director-General. Moore starts new Round.

 

The Economist 24 Jul 99 "Stepping on the Gas" (Edit: 19-20) "Fuel Cells Meet Big Business/How a Fuel Cell Works" (59-60):-items stress/explain rapid progress in developing commercially viable fuel cells(previous material: 24 Apr 99). Main article claims: "dramatic shift in thinking of big business" ;$1.5 billion will have been spent on fuel cell R&D by next year; and costs have already fallen so sharply car makers believe mass production will help them close fuel cell/internal-combustion price gap to meet California's 2004 deadline for 10% no-emissions car sales. Power-generation companies hope to be well-established by then, with fuel cells soon competitive with alternatives, from coal to gas-fired, possibly reaching $5 billion a year globallyin power generation equipment in decade. Editorial urges: (1)end hydrocarbon fuel subsidies;(2)deregulate energy; (3)common platforms for technology/infrastructure(UN?). "Poor countries have the most to gain from this efficient, flexible and(eventually)cheap technology" .

 

The Economist 21 Aug 99: Water Supply: "Pass the Salt" (Desalinization)(23); "Cloudbusting" (Rain-Making)(69-70); "An Ice Idea" (Storage)(70): - all articles relate to scientific-technological developments withmajor implications for expected world-wide fresh water shortages. The first describes a "reverse-osmosis" desalinization plant being built in conjunction with a power station, "which will provide the cheapest drinking water ever extracted from the sea" : 25m gallons a day at a wholesale cost of $2.08 per 1000 gallons for 30 years, i.e. competitive with other sources. The second article reports on a new method of cloud-seeding. Now completing thorough (double-blind), encouraging tests, "hygroscopic-flare" seeding uses salts asstrongly water-affinitive nuclei to form raindrops. The last foresees artificial ice mountains, created cheaplyby modified "snow machines" at below-freezing, water-abundant times/places, and tapped/shipped as/where needed.

 

The Economist 04 Sep 99:" Silent Sting: Banning DDT" (25):- Editorial addresses the terrible dilemma ofwhether to ban DDT globally because of its proven dangerous effects on humans and wildlife (cancer, endocrine disruption, other ills), or to allow its continued use against malaria in many poor countries. The UN Environment Program is coordinating negotiations for a new international treaty to curb the use of 12 of the worst pollutants, including DDT and dioxins used as pesticides but which are also persistent organic pollutants. Health officials, however, argue a worldwide DDT ban "would condemn millions to misery or death from a preventable illness" since "the only effective defence many have against [malaria] is to spray DDT inside their homes" . Economist proposes delaying a total ban until malaria is beaten; meanwhile banning DDT use outside the home (notably in farming); funding new malaria vaccines, therapeutic drugs, andalternative pesticides.

 

The Economist 11 Sep 99:" Nuclear Power: Running on Empty" (87):-two major issues still facing nuclear power are its economic competitiveness with other power sources, and storage of its radioactive wastes. A new method of generating energy from nuclear waste may ease both problems. A Maryland U. scientist has developed a nuclear-powered turbo-reciprocating engine (NPTRE) which runs on the "spent" fuel rodsfrom conventional reactors. Now, after 1-2 years generating electricity, fuel rods are put in storage, having used up enough of their uranium-235 that they can no longer sustain a heat-producing chain reaction, by being hit by neutrons. They are then replaced by new rods. But (spent) fuel rods contain uranium-238 too, which also produces heat (although not a chain reaction)when hit by neutrons. So spent rods are moved near new rods-and their neutron bursts- in a reactor. The U-238 then doubles heat production -and lasts 10-4 years.

 

The Economist 11 Sep 99:" Biodegradeable Materials: Fantastic Plastic" (87-8):-one of the hardest pollution challenges to meet has been the great versatility, toughness, safety, and resilience of plastic, and the (resulting) fact that it is so durable some could last for thousands of years. Scientists at Cargill Dow Polymers now believe they have developed a truly biodegradeable plastic. Moreover, since it is derived from maize(corn) or beets instead of petrochemicals, the raw materials are renewable and could be grown in virtually any country. The plastic can be broken down in a composting centre anywhere, leaving nothing more than water and carbon dioxide. Produced through a new, highly efficient method based on polylactides(PLA) polymers, the plastic "can be used to make anything from clothing fibres to clear films and food containers" . The company also claims production is very energy-saving and already financially competitive.

 

The Economist 25 Sep 99 "Too Many or Too Few" (Edit:19) "Unshapely World, Too Old or Too Young" (56):-inspired by UNFPA report "6 Billion: A Time for Choices" which gives thought to population problems. Globaldemographic trends are diverse and diverging. In industrialized world(except for immigrant-receivers)plus China, fertility is now at or below replacement level. In LDCs, average fertility rate has dropped from 6 per woman in 1969 to 3 today. But population still grows(about 80m/year)due to lower infant mortality, longer lifespans, population momentum. So authors see two issues:(1)resource pressures of high growth rates in poorest areas(most of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa)in spite of soaring death rates from AIDS;(2)economic/fiscal problems of top-heavy age structure where too-rapidly-lowered birth-rates createmore dependents than workforce can support.

 

The Economist 09 Oct 99:" Why Greens Should Love Trade" (17-8);" Embracing Greenery: WTO and the Environment" (89-90);Sam Howe Verhovek," For Seattle, Triumph and Protest" in New York Times 13 Oct 99:- the peace-making Editorial, the historical/optimistic article, and the longer NYT report on the politics/ confrontations, together provide a good picture of the environmental issues that influence the WTO's agenda-setting meeting. The Editorial argues that, by creating wealthier societies that care more about the environment, trade can be the best way to improve it. In the meantime, laxer standards in poor countries are a fair competitive advantage, and no importer may discriminate against those with productionmethods not up to its own standards. Anyway, pollution abatement costs competitors very little, andgoods can be specially labelled. Global/trans-border problems should be tackled/paid for through a strongWorld Environment Organization(WEO) not the WTO. The Economist article -and the WWF- praise a newWTO report on environmental concerns, which (unlike GATT) concedes trade can harm the environment, and implies this could be put on the trade agenda in Seattle. The most promising areas for global action are the elimination of environmentally damaging subsidies for farming, fishing and fossil fuels, the labellingof (clearly) eco-friendly products, and making WTO more transparent, accountable and accessible to eco-groups. A WEO is clearly preferred to trade sanctions for Kyoto-like treaties. The NYT reports on plans by 300 groups for mass demonstrations at Seattle, many by eco-groups, and most claiming the WTO is business-dominated and undermining national laws.

 

The Economist 9 Oct 99:" Fertility Rights: Terminator Genes" (104):-biotechnology in general, and agri-biotech firms in particular, have recently become ethical, commercial and scientific subjects of debate [Horaises inter alia the subject of this item; but see also Maddox (both op.cit.)]. DNA control of plant reproduction has great research value, by enabling only selected plants to be re-fertilized, but the article reports thatMonsanto, in the face of worldwide criticism, "promised not to commercialise(sic)the genetic engineering of seed sterility" . This is significant, as many suspect its real motive in developing sterile seeds was to force farmers -including poor Third World peasants- to buy costly (and, for many, unaffordable) new seeds annually. With Monsanto's action, and creation by multilateral institutes and multinationals of a relatedresearch consortium, poor farmers -desperate to raise productivity to feed growing numbers- seem a bit safer.

 

The Economist 30 Oct 99:" Emissions: Seeing Green" (73):- article reports how various businesses are nowreacting more positively to planned Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas emission taxes. BP Amoco and Royal Dutch/Shell now admit "global warming is real and merits immediate action" . Utilities are trying to reduce power plant pollution; Dupont is voluntarily cutting emissions of greenhouse gases to 35% of their 1990 level in a decade. Examples of current use of transferable emission credits are given. Obtaining these will be of major value to heavy-industrial and energy firms for cutting their pollution taxes; BP Amoco is trading credits among its international divisions. Those able easily to reduce CO2/methane emissions and so generate credits include agribusinesses and forestry firms, while reinsurance companies can securitise emission-trading permits. "Carbon trading" could be BIG business; some predict a trillion-dollar global industry.

 

The Economist 27 Nov 99:" Storm over Globalization" (15)and" World Trade: The Battle in Seattle" (21-3):- coming from the" voice of free trade" , the bias in both editorial and major essay is clear, but also well-informed. The essay summarizes expertly the issues(and their origins)the next WTO Round must tackle and hopefully overcome: fall-out from the Uruguay Round(with many justified complaints from the Third World), unfinished business in agriculture and services(with the US demanding liberalization; the EU defending the CAP),intellectual property rules(involving defence of culture/patents). The North-South debate will be whether the WTO enforces global labour/ environment standards. " The WTO has become a magnet for resistance to globalization" (21); "governments need to find a way of agreeing when curbs on trade can be an acceptable way to pursue a greater good" (15); mutual concessions must be found without major US initiatives. The Economist 04 Dec 99:" Clueless in Seattle" (17); " The New Trade War" (25-6); "Countdown to Ruckus" (26); and "Who Needs the WTO?" (74):- vilify both the protesters and many governments for misrepresenting what the WTO meeting was all about. The last article [in the Economic Focus series] is not only the most lasting and thoughtful, but also offers some serious ideas for the future.

 

The Economist 04 Dec 99 "Honda: Stack of Trouble" (64-5):-report on recent events in global race to produce first economic fuel-cell powered vehicle and how related costs are forcing industry consolidation. Described are developments at Honda, whose forte has always been car propulsion. It has designed engine, its "version of a fuel-cell stack, soul of machine that within 20 years may replace internal-combustion engine with hydrogen-powered electric motors" .But this model seems below standards reached by leading combination of Ballard Power Systems-DaimlerChrysler-Ford, or even by their rivals, General Motors-Toyota(Economist 24 Apr, 24 Jul 99, Koppel op.cit.). Honda has also installed(sealed)Ballard fuel cell in prototype electric car, made very-low-emission direct-injection and diesel engines, and launched first hybrid petrol-electric car, but may have to merge owing to high cost.

 

The Economist 11 Dec 99 "Space-Age Soot" (73-4):-related to preceding, reports a probable solution to the challenge of safe, efficient and compact storage of hydrogen in fuel-cell vehicles. Since it is a flammable gas at room temperature, options have included compressing or liquefying, or storing it chemically as methanol or cleaner gasoline. Most effective storage medium, however, appears to be in carbon structures. Unusual types of molecular carbon form structures known as nanotubes or nanofibres, which absorb hydrogen wellat room temperature. Soot-like grains having "sponged-up" hydrogen could be put into hydrogen cartridgeswould be sold and replaced at filling stations. Researcher reports synthesizing nanofibres capable ofstoring 65% of own weight of hydrogen(6.5% or range of 500km would make idea practical). Other scientists are sceptical, but several claims of over 10% have been made.

 

The Economist 11 Dec 99 "The Non-Governmental Order: Citizens' Groups" (20-1):-how and why "citizens' groups" (NGOs) are increasingly powerful at corporate, national, international level, and whether representmove towards "international civil society" or "dangerous shift of power to unelected and unaccountablespecial-interest groups" . Their growth was enabled by: communism's fall; democracy's spread; technological change; economic integration. Reflects concern over: environment; labour-human-consumer rights; poverty; jobs; etc. Rapid, mass news dispensing or joint action are promoted by: democratisation; technology.Number: international NGOs: 26,000; national NGOs: US - 2m; India - 1m; East Europe - 0.1m. Membershipin one NGO can exceed .5m. Roles: deliver services(NGOs dispense more aid than UN system); others stressadvocacy. "Technical groups" specialize providing expert analysis/ information and assist planners, decision-makers, negotiators, advocates at all levels. Governments can be helped, manipulated or blocked; some international organizations/corporations can co-opt such NGOs(World Bank); others may fail(controversial IOs and MNCs).

 

The Economist 22 Jan 00:" Greenhouse Gases: Cost Free" ; "The Rise of the[Carbon]Sink" (64-5) : -both articles report on economic developments relating to the general emissions trading provisions in theKyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (Grubb op.cit.). While detailedimplementation and final agreement should be completed in November 2000, the World Bank has already launched a Prototype Carbon Fund to help set a cost for carbon emissions and so to encourage firms to invest in cutting them. A small greenhouse gas emissions market has already developed, and the PCF should spur it by investing in green technologies such as renewable energy in poor countries. Resulting reductions in emissions will be credited to the Fund's investors. The higher the price of carbon, the more interest in investing. The other article reports that many investors in agriculture and forestry hope for a high carbon price since trees and plants consuming CO2 is the only known practical way to draw large volumes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. [Tropical] forests and farms are thus carbon "sinks" , which could be cultivated to generate valuable - and tradable - emission credits.

 

The Economist 22 Jan 00"Nuclear Waste: A Torch Song" (81):-probably the biggest political, environmental and cost problem with nuclear fission power (and disposal of nuclear weapons) has been how to handle the radioactive nuclear waste, particularly thousands of tonnes of spent fuel and other radioactive by-products. Luckily, thus-far-unsuccessful attempts to generate energy-economical non-radioactive fusion power has left a number of moth-balled experimental reactors, all designed to produce gas heated to about 10m degrees C, known as plasma. Dr. Bernard Eastlund proposes that plasma be again produced in old reactors and mixed with nuclear waste. This would instantly produce a "soup" of electrons and nuclei. Theelements/ compounds in the soup could then be "sorted" using the different temperatures at which they become solids. Such residue is not radioactive and less in quantity/cost than that from planned chemical reprocessing.

 

The Economist 29 Jan 00 "Hybrid Vigour?" (94-5) :-this article reports on the latest development in the battle to produce economic and environmentally-friendly vehicles. The Detroit motor show saw the introduction by General Motors of the "Precept" , and by Ford of the" Prodigy" , their new fuel-efficient supercars. The first products of a six-year $240m-annual-budget US Government program called Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, they achieve the equivalent of 80mpg(35km/litre) of gas. Their fuel-efficiency is the result of new light technology and a "hybrid power pack" consisting of a combination of electric and diesel motors to deliver energy more efficiently and recycle as much of it as possible. Unfortunately, and in spite of the huge investment of tax money, they cost thousands extra, but save little money in use. Above all, the writer expects them to be" obsolete within a decade" . "The future almost certainly belongs to the fuel-cell" .

 

The Economist 11 Mar 00 "Floods and Their Damage: After the Deluge" (52):-describes global flood disaster threat, and warns of worse to come. Approximately 100,000 people 1999 were killed in natural disasters, highest toll since 1991. Normally half are victims of floods. Moreover in 1998 300m people were affectedby floods, and annually about 3m lose their homes. In future, as population increases, more people live in vulnerable areas, so global flood damage is expected to increase. Already 50% world lives on/near coast -10m(mostly very poor)at constant sea risk. Millions in hillside slums subject to mud-slides; others inovercrowded flood-prone river valleys. Settlement itself increases flood danger through erosion, deforestation, water diversion, damming. Global warming will make half LDCs' population vulnerable to floods/storms. Better safety-measures/aid must be long-lasting.

 

The Economist 01 Apr 00"How Green Is Your Hydrogen?" (74):-the article draws on a report by the (Canadian)Pembina Institute. It addresses the fact that fuel-cell vehicles need hydrogen, so some sort ofenergy must be used to produce this basic fuel. Not only do most economic forms of energy generation produce carbon dioxide, but in medium term hydrogen will be stripped from hydrocarbon molecules as found in fossil fuels. This can be done in vehicle by using a chemical "reformer" - which releases the surplus carbon as carbon dioxide. So report calculated total "well-to-wheel" release of greenhouse gases using various fuels (including "clean" gasoline/ methanol). Best was found to be natural gas: it is easy and efficient to reform into hydrogen -and cheap. Volume problems solved if gas stations have big reformers and sell hydrogen as solid(metal hydride).This uses same space per energy unit as gasoline.

 

The Economist 20 May 00 "Risky Returns: Business in Difficult Places" (85-8):-addresses major global problem involving investment/poverty/violence/instability/human rights/governance/crime - UN deals with all. Claims that while some places seem too violent/chaotic for business, with care and courage it is feasible: UNCTAD even reports average FDI return in Africa 91-7 higher than in any other region. HenceFDI in world's 44 poorest countries, while tiny, has tripled over decade, with fossil fuels/minerals/utilitiesbig attractions. Dangers: security, useless contracts/laws, economic collapse, NGO attack, statecontrols(not seizure). Counter-action: fences/guards/alarms; defensive driving/diplomacy; localknowledge/hiring; anti-corruption briefing/training; transparency/high standards (particularly human rights/finance/environmental areas); insurance/subcontracting; crisis-/evacuation-pre-planning.

 

The Economist 03 Jun 00 "Stem Cells: Brain Into Brawn" (80-2):-on-technical account of growing scientific knowledge about multiple capacities and particularly "regenerative medicine" potential of stem cells. It notes that most body cells are specialized to do only one thing; however, elite group - stem cells - found in many organs, when given right biochemical signals, can divide(reproduce)and transform themselves into range of different cell-types as and when need arises. Stem cells are found particularly in embryos where they are busy creating/building new organs, but also in many adult organs, where their flexibility can be used to replenish ordinary cells. Yet obvious potential in transplants and regeneration was thought to be limited by small variety of cell types which each could make. It now appears they are very versatile. "Neural" stem cells from adult(mouse)brain lining were transferred to embryos - where they integrated well "far and wide" . As more is learned, adult stem cells may be taken from one part of person and "auto-transplanted" into another part which badly needs cellular substitutes. Economist 11 Nov 00 "Cancer Treatment: Stemming the Brain Drain" (104):-different, and possibly very important, application of stem cells as "killers" rather than builders seems possible. Article reports that way may have been found to use stem cells to destroy cancerous cells - and only cancerous cells. It relates to cancerous brain tumours calledgliomas, which spread rapidly, are resistant to radiation and conventional drugs, and so are usually fatal. Stem cells seem to have penchant for injured cells, and so home in on damaged tissue like tumours, and stick with(only)them. Harvard medical team in effect laced stem cells with deadly poison. They went straight to rats' gliomas, killed 80% of their cells, harmed nothing nearby. Embryo/ethics issues are less.

 

The Economist 01 Jul 00 "Selling Fuel Cells" (83):-item says General Motors seems to have gainedadvantage in high-stakes race with Ballard-Daimler-Ford to develop economic fuel cell car(Koppel op.cit.). New GM prototype (HydroGen1)is 1/3 size of its predecessor, but produces about 60% more power(thermal efficiency is nearly four times that of best gas-powered vehicles). Engine warms up at -40C in 1/10 time of other fuel cells, and its fuel tank (hydrogen for 600km)is size of ordinary gas tank. Possibly on market by 2004, improvements do not reflect breakthrough but many engineering refinements. "Itlooks increasingly likely that eventual replacement for internal-combustion engine in motor vehicles will be fuel cell.[C]ar makers now investing heavily in[them]" .

 

The Economist 05 Aug 00 "The Electric Revolution" (Edit: 19-20); "The Dawn of Micropower" (75-7):-arguescoming changes in electricity generation will be as dramatic and profound as those found in world telecommunications industry. Many LDCs may even skip giant-power-station stage and move directly to "micropower" -electricity produced by small-scale fuel cells/gas turbines. Essay discussestrends/techniques which(it contends)will produce world geared to local power generation for local consumption. Three trends stimulate development of small, clean, reliable, cheap generating technology.(1)Global liberalization-deregulation makes local power generation competitive, with potentiallocal markets even for surplus heat.(2)Rising emission standards make new coal-fired plants prohibitive; increase relative advantage of low/no-emission microgenerators. (3)Reliable/ uninterrupted power is higherpriority; multiple micro-generators are under owners' control. Venture-capital investment also respondedto potential micropower market($60b/year). Several sorts of micropower generation under development: (1) "Most dramatic breakthroughs taking place in field of fuel cells" .(Sources give details: e.g. hydrogen-handling.) (2)Microturbines, high-speed compressors-cum-rotors that spin to 100,000 rpms, have one moving part, and run on natural gas.(3)Solar Cells costs, still not competitive, coming down - and fuel is free. For global markets, costs of more-developed microgenerators are already competitive in rich worldand, for some purposes/places, in Third World. "Microgrids" , pooling relative strengths of severalmicropower systems, will bring prices even lower and reliability even higher. Three obstacles to remove: distorted taxation; need for global standards; regulation.

 

The Economist 11 Nov 00:" The Trade Agenda: A Different, New World Order" (83-9):-a valuable essay onglobal trade problems and prospects - mainly in the WTO context. While there is useful information on how such issues were handled before, and how present disputes developed and negotiations currently stand, the constantly changing roster and status of commercial differences and agreements, limits the essay's durability. The outline of key LDCs' positions/influence, and warning of probable negotiatingdifficulties with China and Russia once in the WTO, are particularly interesting. A clear survey of complex relationships.

 

The Economist 18 Nov 00"Dams: A Barrage of Criticism" (94-6):-reports on the first comprehensive effort to analyse environmental, economic and social impacts of world's 45,000 large dams - the work of The World Commission on Dams involving the World Bank, industry, etc. on 1000 dams over two years. Itconcludes that their overall costs to both man and nature are "mostly negative" ,although every third country uses hydro power for 50+% of electricity and over one-third of irrigated land depends on dams. Their building usually means clearing forests etc.; reservoirs become silted from upstream; rotting vegetation emits CO2/methane - possibly accounting for 25+% of "global-warming potential" of atmospheric gases. Some alter flood cycles and downstream flows; some pollute rivers, remove nutrients, alter watertemperature - affecting survival of plants, fish and animals, but breeding mosquitos -hence malaria etc. Over $2 trillion has been invested and 80m displaced, though dams often unprofitable, slow to deliver, prone to corruption, distorted in their benefit.

 

The Economist 23 Dec 00 "Shrinking Families: The Empty Nursery" (95-7):-essay on below-replacement fertility rates implies:(1)population decline anywhere would be "worrying" ,presumably since current huge/unprecedented human numbers are "just right" or even too low, but no explanation why; (2)rich countries' population trends/totals can/should be totally divorced from both their unsustainable consumption levels and any concerns about global population growth/consumption levels;(3)large-scale/balancing migration is useless. Extracts:" [Is an]only child pattern of the future? Of all questionsabout our new century, few are as important as this...Too few babies is emerging as bigger worry in many countries...than too many[globally? i.e. how we support global population still growing at 80m/year]...Of 35of world's richest countries, in only three[Iceland, New Zealand, US]are women producing enough babies...to replace existing population.[Trends in US, Europe, China, South Korea.]Motherhood is becoming a mid-life digression[and]postponing childbearing[mainly for educational/career reasons]leads to many more single child families.[L]ong-run trend will surely be for people to have rather fewer children, on average, than replacement of human race requires. As result, 21st century will probably see...humannumbers stop rising and begin to decline...[W]hile environment may gain, society may well lose[not enough pension contributors; kinship a weaker force; old people with no immediate relatives; majority are first-born/only offspring" .In addition, thoughtful theme Editorial on "Tales of Youth and Age" (17-8)relates to notingimplications of aged forming increasing percentage of world's population over course of century. There is also highly relevant/amusing essay in same issue: "Prolonging Life: Who Wants To Live Forever?" (23-4). Partly historical/philosophical, it also offers information and food for thought. Neanderthals lived about20 years; mid-18th century average lifespans were only up to 30. Today's world average life expectancy is 65 years, with those in rich countries 75-80, result of improvements in living conditions, public healthand medical care. Individual lifespans are not huge by historical standards: 122 years is longest documented. Two life-lengthening methods have been successful with animals: semi-starvation (unpopular with humans)and selective breeding(would require centuries/heartache for humans). Genetic manipulation, however, now seems feasible, although ageing process involves many genes. Life would remain an invariably fatal disease, but age researchers claim that if people were able to preserve their maximum health and vigour, they would on average live for about 1,200 years, with about 0.1% lasting for 10,000. Short of instant over-population, world would soon consist of extremely old, and tiny, "dwindling, resentful" group of younger people. [Economist's opposition to lower birth-rates in rich countries was explained later as producing short-/mid-term economic stress in advanced states. Its older populations cannot be supported by relatively smaller numbers of young personnel and not yet handled by obvious longer-term solutions. These include:(a)economic participation/ generation of workers for progressively more years;(b)entire assets needed for pension-funds totally pre-generated/ saved before retirement;(c)less-labor-dependent economies modified by gains in human-progressiveness.]

 

The Economist 20 Jan 01 "Natural Disasters: Lessons from El Salvador's Earthquake" (31):-lessons and proposals from preparations before/response to tragedy of 13 Jan. Aimed mainly at Central America butapply to any small, poor countries liable to natural disasters. After Hurricane Mitch(1998)did terrible damage to Honduras/Nicaragua and some to all Central American states, UN reported none had disaster-management plans and" when catastrophe struck, civil-defence bodies were sidelined by politicians. As result, once emergency teams, called in for particular incident, had been disbanded, nobody to apply lessons-learned next time.[Hence, UN said, each country needed] 'permanent state institution, staffed bytrained disaster-management professionals' and armed with mandate for preventive work" .El Salvador's civil-defence agency responded ASAP, but has little say in preventive planning, which " involvesstrengthening laws and enforcing them - hard in states cursed by corruption" . Also, donors shouldsupport permanent disaster-response team for region, and further improved regional coordination.Economist 03 Feb "Catastrophe in Gujarat" (Edit. 22-4); "Earthquakes in India: Worse to Come?" (83):-pitifully soon after above, reaction to even worse tragedy. Again stressed actions(well-enforced building codes; well-studied risk zones; nearby rapid-response teams; planned international aid)that could greatly reduce costs(even in very poor countries)of major shocks in growing urban areas. Unfortunately science warns greatest collisions of tectonic plates on earth, run along mountainous borders of sub-continentso constant seismic stress has created recurring catastrophes.

The Economist 27 Jan 01"A New Environmental Index: Sustainable Growth - Green and Growing" (74-5):-serious global controversies(e.g. Kyoto Protocol)reflect widespread (mis)perception that environmental and economic improvements are incompatible, and present zero-sum alternatives. While in many cases these aims are in fact mutually reinforcing (non-polluting processes often improve efficiency)there has beenno organized attempt to clarify/ quantify overall relationship perhaps because many key terms involved are "woolly" [e.g. "sustainable", "environmental" ," growth" vs" development" ];most environmental data are "poor quality". 2001 Davos World Economic Forum was presented first attempt to meet this need: Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI)created by expert team working carefully with available data. It had first made "detailed assessment of dozens of variables that influence environmental health" of 122 national economies(from pollutants to corruption). These then used to select 22 "core indicators" grouped in five broad areas: (1)Environmental Systems: air quality; water quantity & quality; biodiversity [threats]; terrestrial systems [e.g.soil degradation]; (2)Reducing Stresses: reducing air pollution; reducing water & ecosystem stresses; reducing waste and consumption & population pressures; (3)Reducing Human Vulnerability: basic human sustenance; environmental[ly-related] health; (4)Social and Institutional Capacity: science and technology [strength]; capacity for debate; [eco-]regulation and management; private sector [eco-]responsiveness; environmental information; eco-[i.e.energy] efficiency; reducing public choice distortions [gasoline prices, usage subsidies, corruption]; (5)Global Stewardship: international commitment [eco-participation & compliance]; protecting international commons[ e.g. CO2, SO2, CFC]; global-scale [eco-]funding & participation. Indicators were quantified for each individual country, making it feasible to rank them in terms of "sustainability" (ES). Among results: Finland(1); Norway(2); Canada(3); Australia(7); US(11); France(13); Germany(15); Britain(16); Japan(22); Brazil(28); Russia(33); Italy(37); South Africa(45); Mexico(73); India(93); China(108); Nigeria(117); Haiti(122). Team's key findings were: (a)ES can be measured; "Index proved to be surprisingly powerful, useful and robust" .(b)ESI created comparative benchmarks of national environmental conditions and possibility of making decisions on more fact-based foundations. (c)Economic conditions affect, but do not determine, environmental conditions; ESI suggests that decisions on how vigorously to pursue ES and economic growth are in fact two separate choices. (d)Serious data gaps limit ability to measure ES. Much of above derived directly from ESI Main Report downloaded (using Adobe Acrobat Reader since it is in PDF format) at: http://www.ciesin. colombia. edu/indicators/ESI.

 

The Economist 10 Mar 01 "Wind Power: Maybe This Time" (30-1):-optimistic on state of/prospects for wind power (mainly based on US situation). Tax credits for this clean, renewable energy source in 1980-90sproduced little as fossil-fuel efficiency rose/prices dropped. But now California needs more energy fast,natural-gas price soaring, and wind-power technology better. Hence major firms are committed tobuying/generating significant wind power since(even without subsidy)becoming competitive with gas turbines. Big 1.65MW wind turbine now costs about $1.3m(120 times as much power as 1980s predecessor for 20 times cost), takes only months to build(5 years for gas turbines)and 98% reliable. With forests of small, noisy eyesores being replaced by few big, slow turbines spread widely, biggest challenge left is costly and complex problem of energy storage, since wind speed and power demand are unrelated in time and place. For some locations, wind power "no longer looks so silly" .

 

The Economist 07 Apr 01 "Rage Over Global Warming" (Edit.18); "Global Warming: Is the Kyoto Treaty Dead?" (73-5) :-both make rather unorthodox, point: while politicians, media, environmentalists globally expressed shock and horror when President Bush brusquely announced reversal of US support for Kyoto Protocol, Economist essentially agrees with decision but for different reasons. Bush's one brief rationale: Kyoto's implementation would hurt US economy - tactical error as widely agreed. In fact four criticisms of Kyoto put forward by Administration: (1)uncertainties about science supporting need to take action to prevent/reduce climate change;(2)lack of participation by poor countries;(3)huge economic burdenimposed on US during" energy crisis" ;(4)impossibility of getting ratification by Senate. Essay rebutseach:(1)now effectively consensus among experts that climate change is real, dangerous, and being produced by human action;(2)rich world created problem so should act first to correct it(LDCs are to take on emission targets later);(3)claim US "energy crisis" prevents it from taking action" ; (only bogus crisis is in California, result of botched power deregulation; real cost meeting Kyoto targets unknown but adjustable);(4)Senate votes depend on public opinion/text presented. Essay then argues if Bush/EU really want to tackle climate change, they should admit that current Kyoto targets now impossible for US(and probably some European states/Japan)to meet on scale/date set. Also unnecessarily inflexible:front-loading deep cuts in emissions makes them much more costly. But economists propose "safety valves" (David Victor, The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol(Princeton Univ. Press)). Text sets ambitious one-off targets butputs no limit on compliance costs. Yet issue is cumulative:growing stock of greenhouse gases,unrelated to any specific date. Progressive targets ( "bold but measured steps" (Grubb))would reduceeconomic costs substantially. Transferrable emission credits also spread/reduce costs. EU or US could initiate a flexible approach. Economist 28 Apr "Heated Debate" (6)on Letters page contains two important responses to Edit. Michael Grubb(op.cit.), one of world's leading experts on how international community can deal with global warming, stresses(contrary to interpretation)initially mild reductions and deliberate flexibilitywere built into Kyoto Protocol precisely to meet US concerns. Letter from Christopher Bare of Los Angeles argues that improved agreement highly unlikely to be obtained from Bush and adds growing suspicion that in reality Editor shares Bush's "anti-environment sentiment" .

 

The Economist 19 May 01 "A New Dawn for Nuclear Power?" (Edit.13); "A Renaissance That May Not Come: Special Report - Nuclear Power" (24-6):-responses mainly to Pres. Bush's inclusion of nuclear among power sources he will push to help increase US domestic energy production. As usual, Economist does not share many environmentalists' visceral, and even moral, fear of radiation; it makes careful, qualified, but on balance negative, case regarding nuclear power's viability, based on free market economic considerations. It argues: "concerns about operational safety...do not add up to damning case...Nuclearindustry has learned a lot about running its plants safely...Existing technology is now mature and well-understood. On the whole, [Western]nuclear power plants...are today safe and well-run" (13).But new plants are defended on grounds that they:(1)enhance energy security by reducing dependence on[Mideast]fossil fuels;(2)reduce output of greenhouse gases;(3)exploit improved nuclear power economics. Reaction:(1)nuclear power displaces mostly coal and gas - more plentiful/diversified than oil;(2)nuclear power is expensive way to cut greenhouse gases and creates other problems(waste disposal; theft dangers);carbon tax plus elimination of energy subsidies would be best route;(3)claims of greatly improved nuclear economics are dubious(this examined carefully)and "hefty" subsidies still exist. If private sectorcan build competitive new plants without subsidies, "more power to it" .Believe this is unlikely. Economist09 Jun "Fact or Fission" (Letters16):-constructive comments on 19 May Essay. P.H.Spare, Davenham,Cheshire sees nuclear power as necessary and cheap insurance, either to ensure vital energy supplies in event of Middle East disruption or progressively help replace oil/gas as they become exhausted. Jan Bloemraad, Toronto warns that if resource-deprived countries were to abandon nuclear energy, both oil and gas demand for power generation would rapidly increase and US would suffer just the same. John Stevenson, Cleveland decries negative bias, e.g. in chart, which shows massive growth in wind- and solar-power use(vastly more than in nuclear power)but fails to mention that (heavily subsidized)formeraccount for less than 1% of world electricity consumption, while nuclear power accounts for over 20%.David Alexander, Zeist, Netherlands contends nuclear power industry is not "good, proper and socially responsible" business unless:(1)it is run profitably, efficiently and ethically;(2)it delivers products or services that meet real needs without damaging human health, well-being or environment; and(3)it receives no government largesse in any form, however covert.[Does/could any business or industry meet all criteria?] For concurrent analysis of economics of nuclear power in US, see Matthew L. Wald "Handicapping Reactors by the Numbers" New York Times 19 Jun 01. Article reports that, whatever Bush administration may hope for future of nuclear energy, industry experts argue that recovery from its 30-year drought in US will depend upon three key numbers:(1)In order for reactors to compete, price of natural gas would have to stick at $4 or 5 per million BTUs(it is currently about $4, but has exceeded $5).However if price stayed at $5 for long, more could come into production both in North America and abroad, and price would drop.(2)USNuclear Energy Institute believes competitive reactors would have to sell for no more than $1,000/kilowatt of generating capacity. That is much more than natural gas plants($5-600/kilowatt) but running costs of reactors is low because uranium is cheap. Major efforts also being made to reduce reactor costs, including through economies of scale, higher efficiency, and reduced construction cost.(3)Locus for storing 77,000 tons of radioactive waste must be settled. Yucca Mountain(90m from Las Vegas)not yet agreed upon as suitable long-term repository. All arithmetic is soluble but finding successful solutions is far from guaranteed.

 

The Economist 09 Jun 01 "Mr Bush Goes to Europe" (Edit.9); "Special Report - America and Europe; Wanted: New Rules of the Road" (25-7):-in connection with Bush II's first official visit to Europe(EU/NATO)essays cite many US-European disputes and divergent attitudes(in terms of global perspectives, preoccupations, and images of each other)but conclude common values/interests will overcome. Defence raises genuine differences over US missile defence proposal(with prefix" national" now being downplayed)and its threat to ABM Treaty. Europeans' "worries might recede" if they(and Russia)could be persuaded its sole purpose/use would be against "rogue" regimes. Also" lurking disagreements" overconventional forces: prospect of US redeployments from Europe to Pacific and real effects(on NATO)and motives of EU rapid-reaction force. Trade disputes: chronic, moving into(previously-domestic)regulatoryissues, sometimes bitter and reflecting even cultural differences(GMO). Behind all lie major worries about prospects for new WTO trade round. Serious perceptual problem: if things go badly, both sides" fall back on some surprisingly negative stereotypes.[US]stereotype is of Europe that is economically sclerotic, psychologically neurotic and addicted to spirit-sapping welfare schemes and freedom-infringing state. European stereotype is of gun-slinging, Bible-bashing, Frankenstein-food-guzzling, behemoth-driving, planet-polluting[US]in which politicians are mere playthings of mighty corporations" (25). Most striking, Europeanassessments of Bush himself(prior his visit)were "strongly hostile" though not unprecedented. "More important, structural changes in world politics are driving wedge between Europe and US" .Among Europe's four big powers only Italy's new government shares Bush's conservatism. In terms of security, US and Europe each need other less than in past(even Clinton past). "Upshot of consolidation of Europe has been to tugEurope and America in opposite directions[and to]look at world in increasingly different ways" (26). US looks at Asia and Americas; Europe looks at Europe. Europe is inclined to apply principles of multilateralism;US, and Bush in particular" tend to see world in traditional great-power terms. National interest, diplomatic leadership and protection of military might are what matter. International treaties and global norms merely constrain America's sovereignty" (27). Europeans see this as unilateralism, while Americans often see Europeans as" grandstanding free-riders, willing to lecture America about death penalty but less willing than they should be to spend money to make their troops effective" .[For example of worry that antagonism towards US also helps Europeans define their own identity, Economist cites Kissinger. Up-to-date: Gregg Easterbrook "Europe Builds Itself Up at Bush's Expense" New York Times 17 Jun.] "At this point,transatlantic relationship is at point of divergence[but unique]institutional, economic and cultural ties...set limit to further deterioration" .May be further drift, or revival of transatlantic alliance as "partnership of equals" . Remember how much US and Europe "still have in common, and what they could do together if they put their minds to it" (27).

 

The Economist 23 Jun 01 "Patents and the Poor: The Right to Good Ideas" (Special Report 21-3):-very useful essay seeks to clarify background to:(1)life-saving(patented)drugs being obscenely over-priced for world's poor in desperate need of them; and(2)patents being granted to Western corporations for natural species/products that have been used in many societies for centuries.(History of global AIDS-medication cost issue: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS on AIDS-PATENTS.)Report argues "intellectual-property rights" (patents, copyright, trademarks) are now "one of most contentious areas in international development" . "Knowledge economy" and globalization have given enormous(potential)value to unique-if temporary- right to globally exploit new idea. Hence world-wide system was agreed to on "trade-related aspects of intellectual-property rights" or TRIPS; World Trade Organization members must abide by itsminimum standards of legal protection. It "does not create single universal patent system" but it "lays downlist of ground rules describing legal protection" national systems must provide to items/ideas meeting certain criteria of novelty. Rules are "not just for rich world. Carefully constructed, they can help poorest too" (21).However, TRIPS has not brought poorest countries hoped-for flood of foreign direct investment, and Third World governments worry particularly about access to medicines and protection of traditional resources. Many also want clarification of TRIPS provisions/exceptions related to public health/environment and amendments on life-form patenting. In fact some of biggest concerns aremisdirected at TRIPS. Poorest countries' drug-cost crises reflect inability to afford even much cheaper generic copies legally produced in Third World, let alone health systems to administer them. Less poor countries can use escape clauses( "compulsory licensing" ;" parallel importing" ). Vast scale/complexity of AIDSpandemic will inevitably demand massive assistance anyway. Regarding "biopiracy" , world-wide concern is starting to bring necessary change/action, but "new models will probably be needed to protect...traditional knowledge" (23).

 

The Economist 18 Aug 01 "STEM CELLS: Potential for Good?" (59-61):-objective, valuable - and sobering - picture of current state of stem cell research and(very occasional)medical use. In clear laypersons' terms, it first explains stem cells' uniquely vital biological capacity and roles, and how these have produced media/political over-reaction, and premature hopes among desperate patients. It then outlines the essentially laboratory-based present state of knowledge of stem cells. Specifically, it describes various lines of active research, particularly using embryo-, adult- or clone-derived cells. Throughout, it demonstrates scientists' still-limited/problem-plagued ability to find, extract, multiply, manipulate, and use them for good. General thrust is to welcome many lines of promising research - "[g]iven ratio of questions to answers in stem-cell field" (61), but avoid present state of gene therapy," cursed by great expectations, and then lumbered with public disappointment when they fail to offer cures for all ailments" .

 

The Economist 24 Apr 04 "Climate Change: Plumbing the Depths" (83):- "Fears that global warming is causing sea levels to rise are one of the main concerns about climate change. But...little was known about trends in sea level [prior to 19th century]. Now [a university team] may have changed all that...Caesarea, a coastal settlement...south of Haifa, was built...around 15BC [and] enjoyed a period of nearly 1,300 years of continuous occupation.[Digging has] uncovered more than 60 wells that would have [been built/]provided fresh water for its inhabitants throughout the period. [The] team found a good correspondence between the well-water level and the Mediterranean's level...The results indicate that the sea level has remained reasonably constant over the past 2,000 years...Data from the Caesarean wells show that...therise in sea level detected in the 20th century is a recent phenomenon.[It] suggests that the oceans are now encroaching on to the land at a pace not seen since the end of the last ice age...Ancient plumbing warns that all is not well with rising sea levels." This summit of the article leaves out much detail, and hence can be misguiding. It does however include key points. Last quoted sentence is introductory clause.

 

The Economist 08 May 04 "Nuclear Power: Out Of Chernobyl's Shadow" (57-8):-analysis of many changingEU economic, environmental and financial situations/policies as regards nuclear energy. Some trans-European radiation, blown from the Chernobyl accident, persuaded several EO countries to freeze their own industries. "Now, a fresh dose of nuclear energy has entered [EU] from the east [since m]any of the countries that joined...rely heavily on nuclear power. This is forcing the EU to confront some extremely tricky choices about the future role of nuclear power...Achieving western safety standards at the 18 nuclear plants that have just been added to the EU will be a bonanza for western consultants...In some cases, new western plants may be built, initially to replace Soviet ones, but perhaps later to replace filthy coal-powergenerators...EU's anti-nuclear stance may soften. [The] important new Finnish reactor highlights a thirdfactor that could boost nuclear power within the EU: global warming...EU has made [Kyoto treaty] targets legally binding...But if environmental arguments may increasingly work in nuclear's favour, the main obstacle is likely to be cost [affected by the variable oil and gas prices]. Finding investors willing to finance a new nuclear plant is formidably hard...Perhaps the best hope is to come up with cheaper designs for nuclear plants. Lately, nuclear builders have been making big promises about lowering costs."

The Economist 05 Jun 04"SPECIAL REPORT on COPENHAGEN CONSENSUS: Putting the World to Rights"(63-5):-a panel of distinguished economists met in Copenhagen to study high-quality analyses of global challenges to improve very serious lives of people in developing countries, and to determine relative costs. "The organizing idea was that resources are scarce, and difficult choices among good ideas therefore have to be made". Aim of the panel was to reach agreement on the best Priorities that should be given to 17 Projects. Panel members agreed surprisingly closely in this orderof the priorities: (1)Diseases: Control of HIV/AIDS. (2)Malnutrition: Providing micro nutrients. (3)Subsidies and Trade: Trade liberalisation. (4)Diseases: Control of Malaria. (5)Malnutrition: Development of new agricultural technologies. (6)Sanitation and Water: Small- scale water technology for livelihoods. (7)Sanitation and Water: Community-managed water supply and sanitation. (8)Sanitation and Water: Research on water productivity in food production. (9)Government: Lowering cost of starting a new business. (10)Migration: Lowering barriers to migration for skilled workers. (11)Malnutrition: Improving infant and child nutrition. (12)Malnutrition: Reducing prevalence of low birth weight. (13)Diseases: Scaled-up basic health services. (14)Migration: Guest-worker programs for the unskilled. (15)Climate:"Optimal" carbon tax. (16)Climate: Kyoto protocol. (17)Climate: Value-at-risk carbon task. The priority list is based essentially on economics/finances, not on the relative urgency of the challenges, nor on a clear implication that items with higher numbers can or should be ignored for the time being. Economist items of 08 and 15 May 04 above give summaries of two subjects that were analysed. For details on the analyses, an authoritative 650-page book is available: Bjorn Lomborg edit., GLOBAL CRISES, GLOBAL SOLUTIONS (Cambridge/New York/Melbourne/Madrid/Cape Town: Cambridge Univ. Press 04):-ISBN 0 521 84446 0 hardback and ISBN 0 521 60614 4 paperback.

It is in two parts, with chapters that do not exactly coincide with the 17 Projects identified above: PART I THE CHALLENGES (1)Climate Change; (2)Communicable Diseases; (3)Conflicts; (4)Access to Education; (5)Financial Instability; (6)Governance and Corruption; (7)Malnutrition and Hunger; (8)Migration; (9)Sanitation and Access to Clean Water; (10)Subsidies and Trade Barriers. PART II RANKING THE OPPORTUNITIES Expert Panel Ranking. Epilogue: Youth Forum: Human Benefit Analysis. The INTRODUCTION by Lomborg is only 9 pages long, and contains the following main subtitles: The Focus for the Consensus; Why was This the First Explicit Economic Prioritisation?; Thinking Outside the Box; Where Does the Copenhagen Consensus Prioritise?; How Does the Copenhagen Consensus Prioritise?; What Does the Copenhagen Prioritise?; The Copenhagen Consensus Process; Conclusion.

The Economist 24 Jul 04 "Local Resources and Global Assets: Saving the Rainforest" (Edit.12); "The Brazilian Amazon: Asphalt and the Jungle" (33-5):-previous items by E.O.Wilson and Eugene Linden et al.(op.cit.)have both addressed need to preserve/restore huge areas of tropical ecology - rainforests - tomaintain natural lives and prevent vast release of carbon dioxide(CO2),major global climate change source. Long article describes serious deforestation, being partly corrected, on long/extensive north-south route through Amazon regions; Editorial is inciting, globally. "World's rainforests are owned bymainly poor countries they cover - but at same time they are global asset. Cutting them down for profit, orto free land for farming, is tempting source of income for their owners. Left intact, on other hand, forests are sinks that withhold carbon from atmosphere, mitigating problem of man-made global warming; they arerich storehouses of biodiversity, another global resource, as well. Plainly, balance between local and global interests must be struck...Tropical countries...should not be denied benefits of any and alldeforestation...Yet deforestation that is optimal...still likely to be greater than what would suit humanity as whole. It makes sense, therefore, to come up with ways to make maintaining forest as rewarding for[owner]as it is for world, once broader benefits and opportunity-costs are taken into account. When...calculation...made, rest of world should foot its share.[W]orld has begun to recognize that itneeds...tropical forests. Time has come to start paying for them" . Economist 14 Aug "Tropical News" (16):-includes 3 letters' texts in reaction to above, all positive and well-informed.

 

The Economist 14 Aug 04 "John Kerry's Energy Policy: A Trio of Surprises" (26-7):-US energy policy bothstrongly debated at time of presidency election, and of major global importance(US consumes 25% world oil, and leads much key energy research).On 06 Aug, Kerry committed views on energy, very critical ofPresident Bush policy, and with much in common with "The Future of Energy Policy" Timothy E. Wirth(op.cit.).High points:" would spend $30b to subsidise carmakers and utilities to convert plants tocleaner technologies and encourage US to buy cleaner cars.[A]lso set target of 20% for renewables in bothpower sector...and car fuels." Also supports: nuclear plants; $10b subsidies for helping existing coal plantsget cleaner; more funds for "clean-coal" technology. "Embraced explicit targets for renewable energy - but with no enforcement teeth." Fuel efficiency of cars/trucks(SUV)made possible but apparently not tough." On balance...promising energy policy. Though...set aggressive green goals, ...chooses to keep all domestic energy options open.[W]ants to introduce caps on emissions of greenhouse gases, but favours market-friendly approaches such as trading to keep costs down.[P]romises shift to micropower technologies such as fuel cells, as well as to "smart" distributed energy grid of future. Risk is that he will too often favour government intervention over market forces."

 

The Economist 21 Aug 04 "China's Growing Pains" (Edit.11-2); "China's Health Care: Where Are the Patients?" (20-4); "Business In China: Manacling the Mandarins" (52); "China's Environment: A Great Wall of Waste" (55-7); China's Economy: Dim Sums" (60-1):-five articles are both diverse but complementary in their key subjects. They offer a careful and globally-important analysis of what seems today's largest, fastest-growing/-changing state. Its role/policies/problems are now relevant not only to its billion-plus people, plus billions affected by Chinese global trade/finance, but also to future needs/hopes/threats of bothsimilar/poorer societies/economies/environments. Editorial notes "China has witnessed probably most dramatic burst of wealth creation in human history...But as with any vast transformation there has been price to pay[and]kinds of problem will..need imaginative policy changes to correct.[S]tate health-caresystem...has in effect collapsed.[L]ife-expectancy in parts...may actually now be falling. Diseases...are making their return...Pollution...is reaching scandalous proportions...China is home to 16 of world's 20 most polluted cities...Only two of growing pains that affect China as it continues its breakneck growth[yet]clear signs that government starting to shoulder its new responsibilities too...Still, solvingthese problems cannot be fast, easy or free of cost...[C]itizens will surely want greater say in how their money is spent... But of democracy...there is so far not slightest sign." Special Report on health careconcludes inter alia "whyChina's ...system is in such a mess is that central government's share of tax revenue has dropped in past 20 years...Strong incentives, such as tax breaks, will be needed to encourage privatebusiness to run hospitals on not-for-profit basis...In poor areas, including much of countryside,government will need to remain primary provider...China is beginning to discover that market forces alone cannot produce good health care." Article on business in China predicts: "courts could end up providingindependent check on the almost unfettered power of bureaucrats, transforming legal landscape for firms...China's bureaucrats will no longer be law unto themselves" .Special Report on environmentconcludes inter alia: "problems and their huge costs will dog China for many years.[I]t will be hard to knowof government's avowedly green policies are being implemented. But China deserves credit for its attempts to clean itself up. Balance between sustainable development and economic growth will have to becontinuously adjusted in future. Right now China probably moving in right direction." Article on economystresses: "Chinese economic statistics notoriously unreliable.[They]may be getting a bit better but rawofficial data still not much help.[Western experts conclude] measures aimed cooling China's economy over past year have worked" .

 

The Economist 04 Sep 04 "Coal-Fired Electricity: The Future Is Clean" (61):-like items on new, low-emission energy sources, report analyses potential for emission-reduced coal-based plants. "More of world'selectric power comes from coal than from oil and gas together.[O]ne huge advantage: it does not comefrom Middle East. But, thanks not least to China's rapid economic growth[3/4 of its electricity from coal]price of coal has doubled since Jan[; hence]users looking hard for more efficient ways of burningstuff[since]everywhere there is one huge problem: environment...Yet coal need not be filthy fuel. Apart from'scrubbing'emissions, modern combustion techniques can clean[coal-fired plants]before they start - and use less coal too...Pulverising coal can make 40-45%[power production of what it could, in theory, deliver.]With high-temperature burn, over 50% may be possible. Less coal burned, fewer nasty emissions. [Already widely used]'fluidised-bed'combustion - coal burned on bed of particles suspended in flowing air - also can exceed 40%, and prevent or capture most of emissions as well...Bolder techniques lie ahead. Coal can be burned with oxygen instead of air. It can be gasified, gas going to power gas turbine, surplus heat to make steam for conventional one.[W]ithin 15 years, new coal plants could be as clean as any others, and just as profitable."

 

The Economist 11 Sep 04 "Carbon-Emissions Trading: A Green Future" (69-70):-reports existing/developingemission-related financial activity in Europe and US. Firms stuck with "expensive" taxable/correctable quantities of carbon-dioxide condemned by Kyoto Protocol can buy, for less cost," clean-right" quantities of carbon-dioxide-free credit from others. "European Climate Exchange(ECX),formed in agreement betweenChicago Climate Exchange(CCX)and London's International Petroleum Exchange(IPE),will offer European companies place to trade emissions credits for greenhouse gases. Regulation has spurred creation of ECX. Next[year]European Union will put into effect new rules designed to curb carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to global warming. Companies in EU's 25 member states will be allowed to emit certain amount. If they go over, they can buy credits from companies that have stayed within their limits. ECX plans to offer trading in emissions-credit futures by end of this year, with cash products to follow soon afterwards.[F]orward trading has already begun. Nine European brokerage houses already facilitate over-the-counter trades...Volume traded has risen from 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in Jan to 600,000 in Jul. In addition, companies trade directly with one another. US, where CCX opened for business last year, seems further behind.[T]rading is light for country that emits perhaps a quarter of world's greenhouse gases. Lots of sellers but far fewer buyers, so tonne of carbon dioxide goes for about $1, compared with(around $10)in Europe. Reason is that US market has not had Europe's regulatory shove: US, unlike Europe, did not sign Kyoto agreement on climate change and is not forcing companies to limit emissions. Still, CCX seems to be betting that one day this will change." Katrin Bennhold"New Limits on Pollution Herald Change in Europe"New York Times 01 Jan 05:-across EU, new rules on pollution are seen as the dawn of a"new era for European business".In 2005, 12,000 industrial plants face new limits on their carbon dioxide(CO2)emissions as Kyoto Protocol requirements are put into practice. European Climate Exchange constitutes first mandatory CO2 emissions trading market, "formalizing a system aimed at fighting global warming"since companies that stay within their limits can sell emission rights not used to those that exceed their CO2 output quotas. Economic cost of reducing threat of global climate change is described, including European short-term competition losses vis-a-vis US non-international companies - as well as more longer-term European economic advantages.

 

The Economist 09 Oct 04 "Oil and Geopolitics: Crude Arguments" (77-8):-increasing concerns about: wars fought for oil, progressive shortage of oil, and eliminated need for oil. Three books are reviewed that correct the concerns. Why Carbon Fuels Will Dominate the 21st Century's Global Energy Economy, Peter R.Odell, Multi-Science Publishing, rejects argument that oil production peak is coming, followed bydecline: "Industry now uses tools unavailable in 70s...to tap oil from places unimaginable back then.[Hence]proven reserves of oil are actually larger today than they were[then].Also, prices would soar.,.companies would scramble to find more[or]alternatives[,and]consumers use less.[But]'non-conventional'oil-such as...from Canada's mucky'tar sands' -will cover eventual decline in conventionalsources.[Hence]plenty to run on for...century." "Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum" ,Michael T.Klare, Metropolitan Books, argues US problem is not oil's scarcity but its concentration(particularly Saudi Arabia),hence close ties: "Militarization of US energy policy been bipartisan affair.[T]wo-thirds of world's proven reserves of conventional oil lie in...Persian Gulf[Saudi Arabia 25%].As oil gets depleted rapidly in other parts of world, West will come to depend ever more upon these... countries" . "Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovations for Profits, Jobs, and Security" ,Amory B.Lovins et al.,Rocky Mountain Institute/ Earthscan, offers sharp/sensible ideas of market-based policies that could lead to good life after oil: US must double efficiency of its use of oil through lighter vehicles, greatly increase use of advanced "biofuels" from home-grown crops to replace gasoline,[and]greatly increase efficiency in use of natural gas, including making hydrogen for "fuel cell" engines. As hydrogen can be made by any society, anywhere, by any local energy, there's never supplier cartel.

 

The Economist 09 Oct 04 "Climate Change: Carry On Kyoto" (13-4) "Climate Change: Welcome To Kyoto-Land" (57-9) :-both the very welcome editorial and the substantial and very expert essay are mainly addressed to business readers. Many businessmen globally have been scared about the global Kyoto treaty forcing them to (expensively?) lower their emissions of greenhouse-gases for a doubtful reason, and while competing against the US and Third World companies, who faced no such obligation. The first basic point is: "The Kyoto treaty on global warming is about to come into force." The second is: "Why European [Canadian/Japanese] companies may not lose out to their American rivals under the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse-gas emissions" . Why these statements? What has happened is that Russia recently announced it will take on the obligations of the treaty. This announcement is critical, since if Russia had not made this commitment, there would not have been enough participants to make the treaty legal. Why? You have to know(or learn about): (1) climate change:- its apparent meaning; its apparent causes; its apparent bad effect upon most humans/ecosystems; (2) Kyoto treaty:- the general thrust of the treaty; the ideas that lay behind its rationale, drafting and support by global UN conferences; the actions of which/enough nations to launch and apply it; (3) national actions:- what nations/companies/individuals should/want to do in response to obligation. If you want to read the two good items, you will find them quite hard to understand if you haven't read up on (1) and (2) first. There are lots of texts on these subjects mentioned elsewhere. The two items deal almost only with (3) - but very well and positively. They had to explain the important Russian past and future positions, and the carbon dioxide market.

 

The Economist 30 Oct 04 "Oil Companies' Profits: Not Exactly What They Seem To Be" (65-6):-essence is: "Big western oil countries' record profits may be masking future problems." Basic arguments therefore have relevance to Selective Bibliography on Global Issues.... "Despite their current profitability, themajor[oil companies]face big trouble in three areas: rapidly declining reserves; soaring costs; and lack of access to cheap new reserves...Size of'reserve challenge'staggering. Some $3t will have to be investedin global oil infrastructure between now and 2030 if anticipated demand is to be met, most...to offset declines in production at existing fields.[As for soaring costs,] one immediate issue is weak dollar;...thismakes it expensive for oil firms to buy in other currencies...More worrying cost, however, is that offinding/developing new oil fields.[C]osts soaring because blizzard of breakthroughs that reduced cost of finding/developing oil now slowed to trickle.[I]ndustry has been slow to adopt new technology.Breakthroughs clearly needed, though, if firms to find oil economically in tricky places such as Siberiantundra or ultra-deep waters off Africa/Brazil...Perversely,..best firms forbidden to invest in cheapest/bestassets. Saudi Arabia and its four Gulf neighbours sit atop two-thirds of world's oil - and have no welcomemat out for biggest companies. [H]owever...big companies spending money in areas other than conventional oil, and clear...slowly transforming themselves into energy firms. One shift is into'unconventional'hydrocarbons, such as...tar sands of Canada/shale of Venezuela. These can be made into oil, but at greater cost...than normal oil[unless] technological breakthroughs ...Another significantway in which big firms will change...is through their push into natural gas.[T]heir investment inrenewables/hydrogen trivial compared with billions they spend each year on oil and gas. With oil at over $50 a barrel and enough hydrocarbons in the ground to last for many decades, that is unlikely to change."

 

The Economist 06 Nov 04 "India: The Bothersome Little People Next Door" (43-4); "India and China: Clash of the Titans" (44-5); "India and Sri Lanka: The Palk Palaver" (44):-all three bring Asian international issues and possible futures to attention by providing little-known facts. Common factor is concerns by Indiaat time when mainly(not solely)governed by relatively well-informed and flexible Congress regime. "Delhi will[soon]play host to senior visitors from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal, all of whom will have turned up with grumbles to register[with'bullying hegemon'].These days, though,..several of the once-deferential neighbours are in turmoil; India fears their instability is in danger of upsetting its own delicate political balance." Domestic situation in each of five neighbouring countries is well analysed, with important description of how each can cause problems for/in India, as newly important global power. Political relationship with Sri Lanka in main essay is added to by separate article on Indian plan "to dig a shipping canal through 19-mile(30km)stretch of shallow sea in Palk strait, which separates the two countries" .Proposal is both economically and ethnologically criticized. Essay concludes" there is growing feeling in Delhi that concerns about events along its borders are not peripheral at all." Article on Indian-Chinese relations may be politically important since both states are globally huge in terms of population(both with 1+ billion people),booming economics, and not raising issues. "Chinese officials focus on upside: shared global interests, complementary trade and salutary effects of brisk competition between friendly neighbours. While these arguments all made some sense, they do not tell whole story.In India, China can only see potential rival - if not now, then soon - for natural resources, foreign capitaland, above all, export markets.[They]are bound to compete for access to fuel and commodity supplies as their huge populations seek ever higher standards of living."

 

The Economist 13 Nov 04 "Climate Change: A Canary in the Coal Mine" (87-8):-team of 300 scientists fromall eight states with land inside Arctic Circle spent past four years investigating Arctic Climate Impact Assessment(ACIA) and have issued report "Impacts of a Warming Arctic" ,summary of their principal scientific findings. In few weeks, second report will offer recommended policies - e.g. support for UN Kyoto Protocol etc. controls of greenhouse-gas emissions. Third report will detail all scientific findings. Several factors lead to greater temperature swings at poles than elsewhere on planet:(1)Albedo- how much sunlight absorbed on planet surface/how much reflected. Snow/ice in polar regions much more reflectivethan soil/oceans elsewhere. If snow melts, exposed earth absorbs heat and accelerates warming.(2)Nearer to poles, atmosphere is thinner than at equator, so less energy required to heat it. (3)Nearer to poles, less solar energy is also lost in evaporation. UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)predicted 2001: rise in sea level of 10-90cm and temperature rise of 1.4-5.8C over century. ACIA: "Arctic now experiencing some of most rapid and severe climate change on Earth" : recently average Arctictemperature increased almost twice as fast as did global; widespread melting of glaciers/sea ice;shortening of snow season; evidence Greenland ice sheet melting faster than previously thought. One reason world should pay attention to ACIA report(like a canary in a coal mine): "Hyper-sensitive polar regions may well experience full force of global warming before rest of planet. However...second/bigger reason to pay attention: an unexpected rapid warming of Arctic could also lead directly to greater climate change elsewhere on planet." Arctic warming may influence global climate several ways:(1)Huge amounts of methane(bad greenhouse gas)stored in tundra's permafrost. While thaw allows forests(absorbingcarbon dioxide - serious greenhouse gas)to invade tundra, melting of permafrost may more than offset cooling effects of new forests. (2)Sea-water's salinity is decreasing in north Atlantic due to increased glacial meltwaters. At big risk is mid-Atlantic Conveyor Belt current, which brings warm water from tropicsto north-west Europe, and creates their mild winters. Reduced density/salinity in waters near Arctic couldadversely effect this current.(3)Biggest popular worry: melting ice could lead to dramatic sea level risebut much ice in Arctic is already floating so its melting makes no immediate difference to sea level; land ice melts more slowly. Greatest effect will be expansion of sea water by its increased temperature. Also,Greenland melting faster than previously thought and, if all melts, sea might rise by 6-7 metres. "Possible that current period of warming could tip delicate Arctic climate system out of balance, and so drag rest of planet with it." (For economic/legal impact: Rob Huebert op.cit.)

 

The Economist 20 Nov 04 "Treating Malaria: A Feverish Response" (81-2):-new Chinese anti-malarial drug has high effectiveness, but is still too costly, and not available in needed quantity. "Malaria...strikes at least 300m/year and kills around 1m, mainly young children, throughout sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia." Drug origin: common wild plant with botanic name Artemisia annua," used in Chinese medicine for over thousand years...In 1960s, Chinese military scientists screening hundreds of traditional herbs in effort to protect soldiers from malaria. Researcher ...managed to extract/characterise chemical...artemisinin thatgives plant's leaves anti-malarial punch. Since then, scientists developed chemical processes to convert artemisinin into more potent derivatives good at killing malarial parasites in blood.[As]activity wanes afterfew hours, best given alongside another anti-malarial medicine, such as lumefantrine, which attacksparasites in different way and over longer period. Artemisinin-class combination therapy(ACT)has provedextraordinarily effective in treating malaria. Trials in several African countries, as well as India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Peru, shown at least 90% of malaria patients treated with ACT over three days recover...Important since other anti-malarial drugs...losing effectiveness.:.malarial parasites evolved resistance.So far, resistance not problem with ACT, partly since combining drugs make it much less likely mutations in parasite will enable it to survive." WHO recommends: where drug resistance occurs, switch to ACT, butfast production/doctor training sought for this year. WHO estimates: 132m ACT courses in 2005; almostdouble in 2006. Problem: getting enough artemisinin. Best plant only in parts China/Vietnam wherecollecting farmers raised prices. Both price control and greatly increased production sought. Methods:farming plants in China and Africa, although sufficient additional production will take time. Alsosimplified/synthesised preparation under study. "Full clinical trial [of safe and powerful US-produced chemical OZ-277]planned soon. If...successful, then further testing planned to see how well new moleculeperforms in [ACT]. If OZ-277 up to expectations, then such therapy might be ready for market by 2008, at less than $1 a course." Meanwhile WHO seeking more funds. One central source by World Bank sought.

 

The Economist 20 Nov 04 "The United Nations: Time For A Re-Think" (Edit.15-6) "United Nations: Fighting For Survival" (25-7):-this historically important Special Report provides a careful, yet positive, summary of a realistic but strongly positive set of recommendations, agreed on by a panel appointed by Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General. The 16-member group, composed of top-level but independent worthies from all regions of globe, was instructed to submit UN-reform proposals related to Organization's effective coordination of collective security in face of unprecedented global threats. Editorial supports reforms carefully but as essential. UN" embodies collective will and wisdom of imperfect world...Report on how UN might in future better contribute to international security - mobilizing its own and world's resources, to prevent crises where possible and to deal with them more resolutely and effectively where necessary - is due...Yet the thoughtful debate such proposals deserve risks getting lost in poisonous war of words.[Those]who brush against UN as irrelevant in today's world are...dangerously short-sighted.World's most powerful country/top gun has its problems. With global interests and global reach, US is most often called on to right world's wrongs. It should have keen interest in rules-based system whichkeeps that burden to minimum and finds way for others, including UN, to share it...Agreed rules for all to play as much as possible makes strategic sense too.[Yet]system of international rules/treaties/laws is stilla hodge-podge. Some, like UN Charter, deemed universal, though...sometimes ignored.[P]rohibitions against proliferation of...weapons accepted by many but not all. Some disputes can be settled in court...but only where governments give nod...UN Security Council is where most serious disputes end.There trouble can start. UNSC not moral conscience of world. It is connection of states pursuing divergentinterests, albeit...with sense of responsibility. Where it can agree, consensus lends legitimacy toaction...Getting UNSC to mean what it says would help restore some lost credibility. Getting it to evolve collective thinking about international legal niceties in tune with evolving threats...is vital too. It has latelylearned to lean harder on genocidal dictators...Now it needs to contemplate earlier and sometimes evenforceful action by itself or others against threats...where delay[,including if too many members,]couldinvite catastrophe ...All the more reason why Annan's eminences deserve proper hearing." Council on Foreign Relations "Q&A: Reforming the United Nations" 01 Dec 04:-originally available either by NYT>CFR>International>[title] or via the CFR directly. This is an expert interview with Lee Feinsteinwho" has spearheaded Council work on the United Nations" and studied the important UN report and its UNGA prospects. Complete text of "A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility" Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, plus preliminary comments by its requester/addressee,UNSG Kofi Annan, can be read and even copied(99pp Acrobat Reader)from the Secretary General's part of the UN file(www.un.org). Executive Summary(8pp Acrobat)is also available at the same address.

 

The Economist 11 Dec 04 "US Energy Policy and the Environment: Heating Up At Last?" (27-8); "Alaska and Oil: One State's Free Lunch" (28-32):-Bush appears ready to take on substantially new energy policyas his initial support for US traditional energy-producing development/firms, plus rejection of UN KyotoProtocol against climate change (see Rohter op.cit.)upset firms/politicians/naturalists. "Idea US can ever strive for any form of energy independence is bogus: though it sits on just 3% of world's oil reserves, itconsumes 25% of global production...By international standards, US still remains unusually dependent on dirty forms of energy(especially coal)and its cars/trucks still have distressingly low fuel-efficiency levels.Bush, however,..is now keen to have another go. Controversial proposal to drill in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge[will seek passage soon. "Alaska and Oil:..item]This week saw publication of final report fromNational Commission on Energy Policy(NCEP), a bipartisan group of heavyweights from business,government, environmental groups and academia. It is arguably the first serious practical attempt to deal with various problems US faces." Substantial remainder of item discusses both economic and political aspects of report and its possible acceptance, grouping this under energy independence, fuel efficiency, coaland climate change. The KEY RECOMMENDATIONS as listed in NCEP(see easily via Google)may also be worth reading:1.Enhancing Oil Security;2. Reducing Risks From Climate Change;3.Increasing Energy Efficiency;4.Ensuring Affordable, Reliable Energy Supplies;5.Strengthening Essential Energy Systems;6.Developing Energy Technologies For The Future. Related item came soon after: Simon Romero "China Emerging as U.S. Rival for Canada's Oil" New York Times 23 Dec 04:- "Chinese energy co'son verge of striking ambitious deals in Canada in efforts to win access to some of most prized oil reservesin North America..Canada, largest source of imported oil for US, has historically sent almost all exportsof oil south by pipeline to help quench US thirst for energy. But...arrangement may be about to change as China... flexes its muscle in attempts to secure oil, even in places like cold boreal forests of northern Alberta, where oil has to be sucked out of sticky, sandy soil...Former Alberta energy minister...estimated Canadacould eventually export as many as 1m barrels/day to China out of potential exports of more than 3mbarrels/day[from sands/within a decade].

 

The Economist 19 Feb 05"Anti-Americanism: The View From Abroad"(24-6):-Special Report just prior toUS President George Bush's politically important visit to Europe argues that he "will encounter a more complex animosity than is often portrayed when he ventures abroad". It reports that Pew Research Centerconcluded "'Anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history'. But though it spans the globe, the phenomenon is not everywhere the same. It mutates according to local conditions, and it is seldom straightforward. No wonder. Most people's feelings about US are complicated... It is easy to be for some[US aims]and against others, and some may wax or wane in importance according to time, circumstance, propaganda or wishful thinking. So it should be no surprise that some people can hold two apparently contradictory views of US at once." SR then describes US views of selected countries/groupsin following order: France, Iran, Muslim world(first Indonesia, then Arabs), Greece, Spain, European far left and far right, Latin America, Congo, Angola, Philippines. Then report "suggests that intensity of [experience with US] may be the decisive factor in the creation of lasting anti-Americanism. [Canada is listed as unusual country that "is perpetually critical of US" despite having"never(sic) suffered anything worse" than US"cultural imperialism, ignoration and disdain". Such a position is also clearly ignorant of Canadian experience. Two bloody miltary invasions to conquer us took place in 1775 and 1812-14, plus other invasion threats; the(vast?)majority of immigrants into Canada entered specifically to avoid or escape US; and Canada fought bloodily in WWs I and II for three years each time before US entered, even though we (both?) felt North America was also threatened.] Specific bad historical experiences for other countries are listed briefly. "Vigour of anti-American feeling varies strongly even among peoples who, to the casual observer, seem to have no good reason for their differing reactions... Certainly, hostility to US is often mitigated by feelings of friendship and gratitude... A US diaspora may also have a mollifyingeffect in the old country... This background of ties, aspirations and shared values means that in some places anti-Americanism can be dissipated quite quickly with a visit...or some other gesture... In other places, though, it would take much more to change attitudes... In some places it may well be impossible for US to do very much." In final section, the strong views about recent Bush-initiated actions and policies are summarized - mainly the negative ones - with their strong effects on past US role as sample.Anne Applebaum"In Search of Pro-Americanism"Foreign Policy No.149(Jul/Aug 05):-article is summarized by FP: "There has never been a more popular time to be anti-American. From Beijing to Berlin, from Sydney to Sao Paulo, US' s detractors have become legion. But not everyone has chosen to get on the anti-American bandwagon. Where - and among whom - is US still admired, and why? Meet the pro-Americans." Steven Kull"It's Lonely at the Top"Foreign Policy No.149(Jul/Aug 05):-reports that "A new poll of nearly 24,000 citizens from 23 countries, conducted by international polling firm Globe-Scan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the Univ of Maryland, suggests that the tectonic plates of world opinion are shifting. People around the world are not only turning away from the US; they are starting to embrace the leadership of other major powers." Poll asked leading countries who is having a mainly positive or negative influence in the world among: China, France, Russia, Britain, US. Results are shown in a chart that displays percentage breakdowns from each of the five plus Brazil, Canada, India and South Africa.

 

The Economist 26 Mar 05"China and Japan: So Hard To Be Friends"(23-5):-Special Report summarized:"China and Japan increasingly inter-linked-commercially. But their age-old political animus is reviving too". Highlights:"[China is]Japan's biggest trading partner. Japan was China's biggest partner in 3 of last 4 years. Trade rows... virtually disappeared. Economies increasingly integrated. [Both] in effort to launch East Asian Community, and share interest in preventing dollar from declining rapidly. Also take part in broader regional co-operation. Until recently..wonders if China and Japan might in future make common cause in global affairs. Defence ministries... held cordial meetings..; Chinese leaders spoke admiringly ofJapan as economic model.[Both] collaborators in... effort to persuade North Korea to relinquish nuclearweapons. Yet recently a lot more evidence for opposite; namely that tensions rising again between two of 20th century's bitterest rivals... Japan deliberately made its position on Taiwan less ambiguous bydeclaring, with US ally, Taiwan is mutual security concern. Took Japan symbolic step further past itsconstitutional restrictions. [In defence program, Japan] described China as source of 'concern', [reinforced]by China's own announcement of 12.6% rise in official defence spending... Top-level meetingshave been brief affairs... Apparent reason: events of 70 years ago when Japan invaded China, and Japan's unwillingness to show contrition about them in manner demanded by China... Should outsidersbe worried...or comforted? Both countries have become natural rivals for primacy in region...China's rise reinforced old worries.:.hunger for natural resources.;.ability to modernise armed forces...Japan showslittle commercial nervousness [since] two economies strikingly complementary.:.only 20% of China's exports in categories that compete with Japanese ones [and its] ultra-cheap labour is likely for some time to tilt firms towards labour-intensive processes... Yet while... complementary in output, clearly competitors for resources - China overtook Japan as world's second-largest importer of oil [and disputes sea-bed resource sites between them. A]t issue may be... whole future power balance in Asia... [Tense relationsmay also] stem both from nasty history of 20th century and from expectations of concerns about 21st... In China and Japan these days opinion towards each other quite varied [and] on both sides striking.[Japanese PM visits to war shrine including WWII criminals, and use of school textbooks lacking sincere critique of invasion/mistreatment of China, draw anti-Japanese emotions, maintained by Chinese school textbooks.].. Tensions between two great powers ...probably cannot be defused altogether as long as...political systems remain so different ... Only once China stops trying to explore how far it can go, and instead decides to seek a rapprochment with its ancient rival, is the tension likely to ease."

 

The Economist 23 Apr 05"Rescuing Environmentalism: And the Planet"(Edit.11);"Environmental Economics: Are You Being Served?"(76-8):-Cover of issue and its first Editorial relate to many politicalarguments that "Market forces could prove the environment's best friend". Valuable S&T essay offers much expert global information."Environmental entries are starting to appear on balance sheet. Perhaps soon, best things in life will not be free... [T]reating regulation of water and climate as a utility - a service for which people pay money -...should be a perfectly viable investment. [P]utting cash value on what are called 'environmental', 'ecosystem', or 'ecological'services has been fraught process. [But now,] scienceis producing abundant evidence that natural environment provides wide range of economic benefits beyond obvious ones [timber/fish etc]. Ecologists now know a great deal more than they used to abouthow ecosystems work, which habitats deliver which services, and in what quantity those services aresupplied. Last month saw publication of [UN's] Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, first global survey of ecological services. Authors warn attention will have to be paid to these services if global development goals to be met. [D]ifficult part is providing a precise description of links between structures and functions of various bits of environment, so proper values can be calculated. [S]ignificant progress has been made towards developing techniques for valuing environmental costs/benefits...Many valuation studies...involved water, probably because so obviously valuable ecological service. Forests/swamps...filter and purify water, and act as reservoirs to capture rain/melting snow. When such areas becomedegraded, it may be necessary to make expensive investments in treatment plants/dams/other flood control measures... Valuing ecosystem services can also point to places where inaction is best... Puttingproper value on ecological services bound up with another economic anomaly that haunts environmentaleconomics[:] creation of what economists term externalities - economic impacts made when those taking a decision do not bear all costs (or reap all gains) of their actions. [C]an, in some circumstances,subtract from, rather than add to , country's total wealth. [P]roblems discussed all involve externalitiesas well as need to price ecological services correctly... Public goods are those in everybody's interest to have, but in no one's interest to provide. Clean air, for example... In such situations, first reactionfrequently to legislate to try to ban externality. But more efficient solution can often be what is known ascap and trade scheme, in which law creates both an overall limit to amount of externality in question, whether polluting chemical or destruction of habitat, and market in right to impose externality within limit.Cap and trade schemes best known in context polluting gases [(sulphur/carbon dioxide)and fisheries]. [Mitigation] banks created by permanently protecting privately owned swamps, or land inhabited by endangered species. This creates a supply of environmental 'credits' . Those who want to destroy wetlands, or species-rich habitats, for agricultural or development purposes are able to buy credits from a mitigation bank allowing them to do so. [T]raders now looking for opportunities to arbitrage pollution[e.g. Kyoto. P]romising area is trading of nitrate emissions between factories and farmers... From perspective of someone wanting to borrow money, ['green issues' may] have to be considered from thebeginning, and possibly even acted on. So proposers of a mining project might have to considerdamage to river/downstream fisheries of any additional sediment mine would produce. [E]nvironment brought on to balance sheet. Furthermore, because insurance companies recognise environment can be huge portion of risk in a project, there may be a financial incentive for paying to protect it. [V]aluation of ecosystem services not without its difficulties. Nevertheless, fact that there is growing consensus about how/where it is appropriate is an important step forward for economists and environmentalists".

 

The Economist 30 Apr 05"Energy Policy: The Real Trouble With Oil"(Edit.9); "United States: Energy Policy: Rethinking the Axis of Oil"(25-6); "A Survey of Oil: In Troubled Waters"(Vijay Vaitheeswaran 1-24);Nuclear Energy: The Atomic Elephant [in Britain](53); Science and Technology:"Cold Fusion: Honest!"(75-6):-while Survey concentrates on the world oil industry, items in the issue emphasize both the need for, and growing opportunities of, other sources of energy. Editorial makes strongest case:"How to avoid the next energy shock". Its arguments:"US forged an alliance with the then-new oil province of Saudi Arabia. Driven by the same desire for energy security, today's aspiring superpowers are in a similar race. China and India have recently tried to bribe, bully or buy their way into 'equite oil'in Latin America, Canada, Russia and Africa. Yet the billions they are spending on this quest for energy security could well be wasted... Oil has become a fungible global commodity. Conventional notion that stakes in oil fields add up to energy security no longer holds up: if there is an oil shock, then market price of every barrel of oil in world will shoot up past $100/barrel. [B]est hopes for energy security lie in resilience of global oil markets, in conservation and in alternative energy sources. [Even] big oil firms must embrace other sources of energy aside from oil [and] producing countries should, instead [of government control, corruption, and inefficiency,] open markets... As Survey explains, [oil's] real problem is not scarcity butconcentration [of reserves among few countries]. That is why energy ministers... would be wise to look beyond oil. [Moreover,] burning petrol harms human health and the environment. Add in the geopolitical costs of oil, and case for raising petrol taxes in many countries... becomes overwhelming. [Governments have] already shown support for technologies such as hydrogen and fuel cells, which in time may well replace petrol and the internal-combustion engine... Energy security...depends on variety[, which] needs to be sought in sources of energy, rather than sources of oil alone". ('Cold'?nuclear fusion imitates sun.)

 

The Economist 14 May 05"Special Report: Biofuels: Stirrings In the Corn Fields"(71-3):-summary ofReport's main points: "Diesel fuel made from oilseeds, petrol replaced by ethanol made from corn, sugar or grain - or even straw. They're here and are starting to change energy markets". Bulk of the major essay relates to relevant business/economic trends, and for practical reasons describes situations/prospects in North America, Europe and Brazil - the three main areas of activity. Following excerpts try to present the most 'general'elements. "Output still tiny compared with that of mineral fuel. But the day of biofuel has arrived. Reason is simple... Just take past year's soaring price of mineral fuels, subtract the biofuel subsidy [environmental and/or energy security rationales], and the answer is plain: for the user, biofuels are currently cheaper...Though production methods rapidly evolving, new fuels new only in their rampant growth... Can make [biodiesel/ethanol] from animal fats, oilseeds, used cooking oil, sugar, grain andmore. [Proportion in biofuels varies enormously between these and standard mineral fuels.] Oil companies... still not eager. But pro-ethanol pressure has grown... Anti-smog rules require a clean-burnadditive to petrol... Ethanol... can do the job. [Moreover,] if oil['s price] stays high.,. drivers will demand ethanol... Other obstacles may be on the way out. Even now, a new flex-fuel car costs barely more thana standard one. Little reason for any real differential [and] car makers' attitudes are changing. [I]n the end it is market - producers, intermediaries and consumers - that will decide. [L]ook at response, already visible, to leap in oil prices and the biofuel savings or profit opportunities it represents... Biofuellersmake much of their green credentials. Critics claim their stuff takes more energy to make than it gives out;not so, say allies, citing advances in technology. But neither greenery nor energy-efficiency is real issue,First, can they compete, unsubsidized, with mineral oil? Second, can they compete with each other?...Biofuel technology is rapidly advancing [including cheaper raw material e.g. straw, wood]... Within 20 yearsresult could cost well below today's gasoline...Serious dreamers claim that by 2050 cellulosic biofuels, mainly ethanol from switchgrass, could total nearly 120 billion gallons/year - over 2/3 of today's total motor-fuel needs... None of this is sure to happen: if oil price were to slump... much may develop much more slowly or never. But old idea of biofuels as merely a green diversion...can no longer hold".

 

The Economist 11 Jun 05"UN Security Council Reform: Curb Your Enthusiasm"(30):-on gloomy prospect of the key body's needed membership update:"A useful proposal and US rebuff". Highlights:"Reform of UNSC [just] advanced a longish step forward... Four countries with most hope of winning new permanent seats - Japan, Germany, India, Brazil - agreed to put off discussion of veto rights... for another 15 years at least... US is unenthusiastic [since] thinks expansion of UNSC should come a definite second to other reforms, such as streamlining UN bureaucracy... Many [members] still doubt UNSC can ever be reformed. [It] has evaded any attempt at real reform. Too many vested interests/national rivalries have been at stake. The G4, as they are known, are proposing that existing 15-member council of five veto-wielding permanent members (US, Russia, Britain, China, France - known as P5) and 10 non-permanent members should be expanded to 25. First six new permanent members would be added, then four non-permanentones, with special attention paid to including countries from Africa and Latin America. [G4] now agree thatnew permanent members' 'right of veto'would not be exercised, at least until whole veto question had beenexamined by UNGA 15 years after planned reforms. [As G4 plan] involves amendment of UN Charter, itrequires approval of at least two-thirds of member states. Countries interested in obtaining a permanent seat would then be asked to submit their candidacies to a vote by a secret ballot of members... Each [of G4] has its own fierce opponent(s). Pakistan cannot abide idea of India getting permanent status; China isappalled that Japan, its old enemy, might join it at top table; jealous neighbours oppose Brazil, already Latin America's most powerful nation; Italy, always feeling left in the cold by Europe's 'big three', has conducted vigorous campaign against Germany. None of these opponents, on their own, could block selection. ButUS attitude will be critical. At present, US is officially supporting only candidacy of Japan".

 

The Economist 25 Jun 05"Global Warming: Better Than Kyoto"(Edit.13-4):-many Economist items, and articles/books listed, report on how negative US government has been to Kyoto Treaty, drafted by UN-wide conference(including US) to limit global warming. Yet there has now been massive global concern among experts(and in US)because:(1) evidence of serious global warming is firm; (2) human responsibility forthreat, from vast production of certain gases, is so evident that counter-action must be taken; (3) global effect of all(or even most)current global trends will involve not just costs to planet's environment, but will cause large numbers of human deaths. However imperfect the Kyoto Treaty may appear/be, all major global economies must reduce/avoid production of the gases. Here are extracts from Editorial: "Britain, currently chairing the G8, is determined that the leaders should focus on two big issues - African povertyand climate change - which are both huge problems and need to be addressed at a global level. In another way, things don't look so promising: rich world's leaders will probably pass up on chance to discuss most important thing they could do to slow climate change - set up a global system for trading carbon emissions permits. That's because George Bush is adamantly opposed to the limits on pollution that any such scheme requires. Thanks to implementation in Feb of UN Kyoto Treaty , most of rich world(though notably not US) now regulates emissions of carbon dioxide[CO2], chief gas contributing to global warming. Carbon trading...is now seen as least costly, least distorting and most effective way to curb carbon emissions...But US[,after Bush senior organized the first,]has been left way behind by second generation of emissions-trading sanctions, [now]sprouting around the world. [I]nitiatives are working, butit could take years for them to come together into a global market for emissions without cooperation and support from US, world's biggest energy consumer and biggest polluter. Bush...believes that would undermine economic growth [,yet]if US implemented a system similar to Canada's, it would cut 0.5% off GDP by 2025... Many[US]business leaders, and some big cheeses in Republican Party, want to embrace idea ...What better way to give a jolt to this year's G8 summit?" See also: Nicholas D.Kristof"A Livable Shade of Green"NYT 03 Jul 05:-very influential OP-ED COLUMNIST destroys Bush's negative economic argument: "Kyoto would have wrecked our economy". He reports that anti-CO2 campaign by government of Portland, Oregan, has"reduced carbon emissions below the levels of 1990, benchmark for the Kyoto accord, whilebooming economically. What's more, officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has entailed no significant economic price , and on the contrary has brought the city huge benefits".

 

The Economist 09 Jul 05"Nuclear Power: The Shape of Things to Come?"(58-60):-a very useful Special Report on relevant realignment of global energy production."Climate change is helping a revival of the nuclear industry, though its economics still look dodgy", combines the inter-related effects of concerns for both physically safer but financially sound ways to produce electricity. Problems restraining nuclear power construction recently are briefly identified; but global temperatures now produce growing concernover carbon emissions produced by fossil fuels (particularly coal) in generating power."[N]uclear energy is essential if the rate of [climate] change is to be slowed. As a result, there is an unlikely alliance between the nuclear industry and many environmentalists.[More] believe nuclear energy is the best way to reduce carbon emissions", particularly with inherent weaknesses/high costs of solar and wind systems. Major nuclear power construction trends, financing factors and political/scientific priorities are described byregion/nation and the tough competition. Report concludes: If practical CO2 taxes are directly or indirectly paid, "new nuclear plants begin to look economically viable[, although] politics make it unlikely thatcarbon is going to pay its full social costs for some time to come. That's why some governments - including US - are thinking of subsidising nuclear instead. [T]he nuclear industry is back in the game".

 

The Economist 16 Jul 05"Global Warming: More Than Hot Air"(77):-concludes that "The G8 summit made quiet progress on climate change" in spite of the fact that US President Bush was not willing to admit/accept any action in response to the Kyoto Treaty, even though all the other G8 states, including Russia, were committed to it. British PM Blair "persuaded Bush - the bete noire of the climate crowd - to sign a statement that appears to take climate change seriously...Much has been made of G8 leaders' statement agreeing that global warming is really happening and Bush's unprecedented acknowledgmentthat mankind's actions are indeed playing an important role in it.... [S]ummit's real advance appeared rather banal: the promise of a new 'dialogue'on climate policy among the G8 and handful of large and populous developing countries... [T]his dialogue could turn out to be important [because] group that includes China and India could well persuade US to act on climate... [I]t is just possible that cosy talks among some of the world's biggest emitters might pave the way for a lasting breakthrough on global warming". First meeting of new climate dialogue is due to take place in Nov 05.

 

The Economist 10 Sep 05"The United Nations: The Oil-For-Food Fiasco"(Edit.12-3); "Special Report: The United Nation: Can Its Credibility Be Repaired?"(30-2):-Both items deal with how a decision on UNSG Kofi Annan's program to constructively reform the UN coincides with the release of a serious critique against UN management. In same issue, two other items deal - somewhat critically - with major UN-related global aid programs. These are summarized jointly in a separate article which has somewhat different allocation. All four are deeply relevant to a special UN global summit in New York. Editorial argues:"After more than a year of investigation, Paul Volcker... chose this [week] to publish his report on what went wrong with UN's oil-for-food program in Iraq... Program...basic aim...was to allow Iraq under sanctions to sell...oil so that some basic food/medical needs...could still be met. But Volcker's team confirms that program was riddled with waste, inefficiency and corruption. [Yet] Volcker has found no evidence at all that UNSG himself did anything corrupt [and argues] Annan not responsible for everything that went wrong... UN Security Council tried to keep control through a sanctions committee of national diplomats. Having neither UNSC nor secretariat in clear command was recipe for 'evasion of responsibility at all levels' ... Annan shouldnot be fall guy for US' s failure to muster [UNSC Iraq-invasion] consensus in its favour". SR first reports on Volcker's belief that"failings it found are symptomatic of 'systemic problems' throughout [UN system, which hence] needs thoroughgoing reform - and urgently...Recent studies...come to identical conclusion, including High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change set up by UNSG himself[, which] formsbasis for reform that over 170 heads of state/government to endorse in NY 14-16 Sep... There has beenenormous trouble in drafting so-called 'outcome document'which, based on panel's proposals, to be presented to summit. Bargaining had been mired in furious wrangling between member states, with US pitched against group of developing countries... [Then John Bolton, new US ambassador (op.cit.)] threw negotiations into further crisis by insisting on hundreds of last-minute changes to 39-page draftdocument that everyone else had thought was pretty near complete. [Some alterations demanded] toreinto the delicately balanced 'grand bargain'between rich and poor...Plan was: poor to have Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) reaffirmed, along with promises of more aid and debt relief, pledge to tackle climate change and progress on disarmament. Developed world: to get clear definition of terrorismincluding those considered 'freedom fighters' by some, agreed right to humanitarian intervention, powerfulnew human rights body that would exclude human-rights violators, creation of new 'peacebuilding commission'to help reconstruction of post-war states and UN management reform". Essence of UNSG proposals had been preserved. "But Bolton's line-by-line amendments, including his widely reportedinsistence on deletion of all specific references to MDGs, the International Criminal Court, and Kyoto summit, along with what were perceived as his bullying tactics, opened a Pandora's box. Developing countries retaliated with a string of their own amendments which, if adopted, would have emasculatedwhole document". A rescue operation involving 'core'group of 30 countries was negotiating day and nightat time of publication. Latter half of document offers special analyses on following issues: Use of force and collective security; Humanitarian intervention; The Security Council; Terrorism; Human Rights Council;Non-proliferation; Is Annan to go or to stay?

 

The Economist 10 Sep 05"The UN's Millennium Development Goals: Aspirations And Obligations"(67-8);"The Global Fund: Weaving A Safety Net"(75-6):-both items discuss difficulties faced by critical UN-related aid programs. Both are politically relevant to the special UN global summit in New York 14-16 Sep 05.Item on MDGs looks at them from Finance and Economics viewpoint and concludes they "cannot be met; some can barely be measured. What then are they for?" Five years before Sep 05 summit, "world leaders minted a new set of pledges to free their fellow man from 'the abject and dehumanising conditions' of extreme poverty. Pledges were translated into eight MDGs which aim to halve poverty and hunger, enrol every child in primary school, spare mothers and their infants from untimely deaths, thwart infectiousdiseases, save the environment and forge a 'global partnership'in pursuit of development. [M]ost poor countries will miss almost all 2015 goals... Chief appeal of MDGs is precisely that they convert high rhetoric into hard numbers. But most targets are less rigorous than they look... As 2015 approaches,people will want to know whether MDGs have been met, and UN will not be able to tell... [V]ictory over poverty cannot be so easily purchased... The global targets the world set for itself 5 years age did not emerge from the bottom up, as what might be feasible in each poor country. They were instead imposed from top down. Their fit is thus often rather awkward... Sub-Saharan Africa likely to be generations late.Ambition is a good thing if it encourages countries, rich and poor, to redouble efforts. But in Africa's case, efforts must be quadrupled or quintupled. That is promise international community cannot possibly keep, and so perhaps unwise to make". Global Fund item reports "Tough times ahead for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. [It] estimates it needs $7.1b from donors to fund projects in 2006 and 2007... This week... it received pledges totalling $3.7b.,. just enough cash to fill [2005] shortfall of roughly $350m, and to pay for renewal of projects already under way. [I]t does not allow...any new projects over next two years - unless more money is forthcoming... New donors... may be found among oil-rich Arab states and also from private sector[, and] several current donors...have yet to makeconcrete pledges for coming two years. [H]ow much US will give fund for 2006 [is] a far cry from the $1.2b that AIDS lobby believes US should be giving next year to pull its weight... To date, fund has pushed $1.5b out into the field, enabling 220,000 people with AIDS to start treatment, as well as 600,000 withtuberculosis and 1.1m with malaria... For all its teething troubles, fund has proved good way for world leaders to honour their pledges to do more for international public health. But to do so even better, itneeds to professionalise its operations and bring in more people with strong experience in business and finance to manage the billions of dollars it seeks to attract in future".

 

The Economist 22 Oct 05"Controlling Pollution: The Greening of China"(43-4):-Summary of article:"China is investigating whether its rigid system for assessing the performance of party leaders and civil servants can be used to tackle pollution". "China is trying to devise and embed into its assessment of officials a way of calculating a 'green GDP'- which allows for environmental costs in national accounts - to help mitigate some of these excesses. President Hu Jintao... intended China should pay more heed [in pursuing growth] to such issues as environment[al costs, e.g. fatal air pollution] and the depletion of natural resources [e.g. fresh water]. Ten regions, including Beijing, are carrying out a pilot project in green [i.e. both positive and negative] GDP assessment... This would make China the pioneer of a statistical approach that no other country has adopted - and which many economists around the world eschew as an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable". [Article is thus generally sceptical about both the accurate and relevant quantification and honesty of regional Chinese officials. However, the vast scale and range of the serious 'costs' generated by global industry/agriculture today must be calculated as accurately and fast as possible. The fault in China is not with 'green'measurements - whatever that word means -but with a silly leftover from communist 'central planning'. 'Negative'measurements are essential - and are being calculated in all 'rich'countries already - and often reflected in laws. The broadness of this issue is summarized in the Cover Story/Editorial of The Economist 23 Apr 05(op.cit.) entitled "Rescuing Environmentalism: And the Planet" and "Environmental Economics: Are You Being Served?".]

 

The Economist 05 Nov 05"Climate Change: Feverish Analysis"(89):-its summary: "Global warming may damage health and cause fatal disease. Perhaps." Main points: Scientists have long warned its impact on global environment, but evidence that global warming could pose a direct risk to human health, too,has been offered in study by Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and Global Environment. Study argues that "global warming exacerbates freak events such as hurricanes, flooding and heat waves, andthese in turn spread disease and death... Previous studies of climate change and malaria typicallystudied impact in high altitudes. New report scrutinised low-lands, too, and concluded that freak...flooding - the sort climate change may encourage - led to five-fold increase in malaria. One researcher seeslink between increase in emissions of carbon dioxide and rise of asthma... Report concludes that global warming favours spread of disease - especially if it leads to extreme weather events... Humans and ecosystems alike are particularly vulnerable to disease if 'return time'between extreme events shortensin future... Study has reached gloomy conclusions with nasty implications for both health and finance...Project was supported by UN Development Programme[UNDP], whose primary focus is poverty, andSwiss Re, a reinsurance giant devoted to managing global risk". The serious poverty impacts of the study's conclusions are strongly emphasized in Barbara Litzlbeck"Ripples of Global Warming Spread Outward"Inter-Press Service(IPS)04 Nov 05:-"Although industrialised countries produce most greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, study points out that developing countries suffer worst consequences".

 

The Economist 05 Nov 05"Alternative Energy: Another False Dawn?(68-71):-article argues: "High oil prices are spurring investments in alternative fuels". Highlights: "US energy secretary... pleaded for his country'sgas guzzlers to start conserving energy [and] warned that high [oil] prices could be for years. Greens areecstatic. GE's wind-turbine business.... made over $2b in 2005 sales. Ethanol... now looks a better buy. And wind and solar power are also back in fashion... Global sales of solar panels in 2005 will reach $11b, up from $7b last year. Pioneer in hydrogen storage and solar cells has seen its shares soar by 50% in 2005 and venture-capitalists are taking an increasing interest in the industry... Such jubilation is understandable, but it may be slightly premature. For one thing, clean energy is not the only sort of 'alternative'energy that is enjoying a boom: dirty technologies like Canada's mucky tar sands... are also benefitting from high oil prices. In theory, there is as much energy trapped in Alberta as in all of Saudi Arabia... Today's oil prices, combined with cost reductions and innovations in tar-sands processing, areleading to a bonanza [and] have prompted a flurry of investment in new projects and expansion efforts in tar sands that will [it's estimated] add up to a whopping C$70b in coming years... Today's high prices are giving even filthy coal... a new lease on life. [There is talk ] of building new coal plants [and a] consortium will convert coal waste into liquid that can be blended into normal diesel fuel. Technological breakthroughs and green policies like carbon taxes suggest this renewable boom may be more sustainable than the last one. But investors counting on sustained high oil prices to justify otherwise uneconomic projects should beware".

 

The Economist 03 Dec 05"Climate Change And the North Atlantic: The Sound of Distant Howling"(Edit.11);"Climate Change: Restricted Circulation"(76-7):-Editorial is officially summarized as: "Signs of climate change are hard to be sure about. But the latest do look alarming". It argues: "[I]t is now possible to discern a dim howling in the distance. [C]urrents that do moving change from time to time [can] change in a matter of decades. [W]hat history and models describe, may actually be happening at the moment to currents in the North Atlantic. If true, it would mean a cooler future for north-west Europe - possibly a lot cooler. And that future would be close; the change could happen over the course of two or three decades. Moreover, the most plausible explanation for the shift is, paradoxically, global warming. [Fairly complex oceanographic trends/explanation are carefully described in second item. R]esult [of alreadyavailable data] is about as rebust as can be expected. [P]ractitioners can now afford instruments and infrastructure to monitor parts of the ocean continuously. The truth will soon out and [demand] more effort into looking at how governments should respond if north-west Europe does get significantly colder. [F]inding also provides a reason to think more clearly about whole issue of climate change. [Current] international meeting in Montreal... is supposed to begin process of sketching out what post-Kyoto world might look like. This result may focus minds, whether focus directed towards trying to stop global warming or, if decided climate change unstoppable, working out best ways to live with it".

 

The Economist 10 Dec 05"Grounds For Hope on Global Warming: Don't Despair"(Edit.11-2):-the initial/front-cover Editorial makes a strong case in favor of following the imperfect 1997 UN Kyoto Protocol - which US has refused to implement - with an even more urgent global agreement. "Costs of cutting carbon emissions pile up in short term, while benefits are far-off/uncertain. Given these difficulties, fact thatKyoto was signed at all, looks like achievement. So is fact that it established right goal - binding targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions - and got 150 countries to sign up. International Energy Agencyreckons industrialised signatories look like hitting their target of cutting their greenhouse gas emissionsto 5% below their 1990 level by 2012. But holes in treaty are so huge - US didn't sign up, and developingcountries don't have targets - that even with Kyoto in place, at their current rate of increase, globalemissions look like increasing by 50% between now and 2030. In consequence, global environmentmeeting [now] in Montreal to discuss better ways of implementing Kyoto, rather cheerless... However, while Kyoto is stuck, world is moving on. In past 7 years... much has changed"."Climatology: Changing Science"(89-90)reports"past year has seen [important detections:"climate seems particularly changeable at moment" which] help to disentangle signal and noise. First, and most basic, is continuation of warming trend at Earth's surface... Second is that Arctic... does indeed show signs of rapid warming... Third isresolution of an inconsistency , [showing both temperature on ground and futher up in atmosphere are]rising in parallel...Fourth is... in the way world's oceans have warmed up... induced by greenhouse gases...Fifth is observation in reality of predicted link between increased sea-surface temperatures and frequency of most intense categories of hurricane, typhoon and tropical storm... Sixth is observation ocean currents in North Atlantic are faltering (op.cit.)... Signal, in other words, looks strong... That the climate is warming now seems certain. And though magnitude of any future warming remains unclear, human activity seemsmost likely cause... Too rapid or too great a warming... risks serious, unpleasant and in some casesirreversible changes... If greenhouse-gas emissions are to be capped,... a mixture of political will and technological fixes are needed". A list of technological fixes('wedges' ): "greater efficiency, decarbonisedelectricity, decarbonised fuels, fuel displacement by low-carbon electricity, methane management, andnatural carbon sinks". Examples of renewable energy sources in 10 Dec 05"Technology Quarterly: Sunrise for Renewable Energy?"(op.cit.18-20). To return to Editorial, it states: "News from business and from politics is ambiguous. Business, which was once solidly against controlling carbon emissions, now divided. [Its] growing interest partly public relations, but there's solider economic self-interest involved, too. Companies are investing in renewables because gap in cost between them... and conventional energy sources is shrinking [TQ]. Not just small companies run by idealists betting on environmentally-friendly technology. GE, world's largest energy-equipment supplier, convinced there's money to be made from technologies such as clean coal". See "Special Report: The Greening of General Electric: A Lean, Clean Electric Machine"(77-9) which describes how "Jeffrey Immelt is betting the future of his company on environmental technologies". The more companies invest in green technology, greater the chances that their customers... will buy the stuff and thus cut their emissions. But two main determinants of whether or not this will happen are oil prices and governments". The final portion of Editorial appearsdoubtful regarding an overwhelming impact from critically lowered oil prices. Much describes how apan-European carbon-trading system was launched this year (op.cit.), how many local US governments and businesses do likewise, and how public opinions and national (e.g. Chinese) policies show growing concern. Such developments should affect Montreal meeting's decisions.

 

The Economist 17 Dec 05"Climate Change: Pricking the Global Conscience"(77):-item follows the above10 Dec 05 'Montreal'items, concluding:"UN conference on global warming makes progress, sort of". Itfirst recalls Kyoto Protocol "obliges many industrialised countries (but notably not US) to cut emissions of greenhouse gases(GHGs) by fixed amount below their 1990 levels by 2012. Treaty's 150+ signatorieshad hoped to map rough outline of what should come after[wards. But] US delegation strongly opposedthem, insisting that too early to contemplate life after Kyoto... Canada's PM... denounced US positionand invoked need for 'global conscience'to deal with this most global of problems. US' s chief negotiator stormed off, throwing meeting into chaos. Talks looked destined to fail. Canada's friends [includingAustralia, China, ex-president Clinton stressing many US already cutting GHGs] came to rescue. Finding itself isolated, US delegation reluctantly returned [and] compromise deal 10 Dec. Final pact not quite 'historic agreement', but makes progress in 3 broad areas. First, signatories agreed on details essential for implementation of pact [e.g. compliance rules; credits for reducing GHGs in poor/former-Soviet states].Second, agreed future climate talks [(1) signatories on second-period targets; (2) all on possible UNclimate pact. Third,] promote carbon capture/sequestration technologies and get serious aboutadaptation to climate change. Carbon sequestration matters as world cannot meet [both] energy needs/ climate goals without technologies for using vast global reserves of coal in ways that do not contribute to global warming. Adaptation matters because... many aspects of global warming already inevitable[e.g.sea-level will continue to rise for decades]. Summit therefore deserves credit for bringing US back into UN's climate negotiations. Greater still if serious efforts to adapt to inevitable consequences".

 

The Economist 07 Jan 06"Declining Populations: Incredible Shrinking Countries"(Edit.12); Greying Japan: The Downturn"(37-8):-while many Economist articles have expressed concern about economic effects of low birthrates in industrialized countries, this Editorial takes a more economically positive view - including just a few of the good considerations I have put forward for years. Its aim is summarized: "Rich countries' populations are beginning to shrink. That's not necessarily bad news". Highlights: "Russia's population is expected to fall by 22% [by] 2050, Ukraine's by 43%. Now phenomenon creeping into rich world: Japan [discussed in some positive detail in second article]has started to shrink and others, such as Italy and Germany, will soon follow. Even China's population will be declining by early 2030s, according to UN, which projects that by 2050 populations will be lower than today in 50 countries. Demographicdecline worries people because believed to go hand in hand with economic decline... But if demographicdecline not generally consequence of economic decline, surely it must be cause? In a crude sense, yes.As populations shrink, GDP growth will slow. Some economies may even start to shrink. Result will be a loss of economic influence... People should not mind, though. What matters for economic welfare is GDP per person. Crucial question is therefore what effect of demographic decline is on growth of GDP per person. Bad news is this looks likely to slow because working-age populations will decline more rapidly than overall populations. Yet this need not happen. Productivity growth may keep up growth in GDP per person: as labour becomes scarcer, and pressure to introduce new technologies to boost workers' efficiency increases, so productivity of labour may rise faster. Anyway, retirement ages can be lifted toincrease supply of labour even when population declining... New demographics causing populations to age and to shrink are something to celebrate. Humanity was once caught in trap of high fertility and high mortality. Now it escaped into freedom of low fertility and low mortality. Women's control over number of children they have is unqualified good - as is average person's enjoyment, in rich countries, of ten more years of life than had in 1960... People should celebrate new demographics as heralding a golden age".

 

The Economist 18 Feb 06"Climate Change (I): Full To Bursting"(76-7):-Its own gloomy summary:"Rising levels of carbon dioxide will dump even more water into the oceans". Essence: "[G]reen-leafed plants, that breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, also put water vapour into the atmosphere. [W]hateffect will rising concentrations of carbon dioxide have on this? [Apparently:] less water in atmosphereand more in the oceans. [A]round the world, rivers have become fuller over the past century. [New study concludes that:] fuller rivers cannot be explained by more rainfall or haze or changes in land use, butcan be explained by higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Mechanism is straightforward. A plant breathes through small holes, called stomata, found in its leaves. Plants take in carbon dioxide, and when atmosphere relatively rich in this gas, less effort is needed. Stomata stay closed for longer, and less water is lost to atmosphere. This means that plant doesn't need to draw as much moisture fromthe soil. The unused water flows into rivers... Recent rises in surface temperature have been pinned onrising levels of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide. However, [this] work first to identify directeffect of that gas on ecosystems. [A]larmingly, if rivers dump more water into oceans, then rising sea levels will rise more rapidly still. Such changes would be felt especially in low-lying, populous and poor countries". "Climate Change (II): Greenland's Less-Icy Mountains"(77):-Directly related article:"Biggest unknown factor in making predictions of rising sea levels in response to global warming is role played by massive ice sheets that cover Antarctica and Greenland. If parts of these melt, sea level rises far more rapidly than in the past. [F]our years ago a small Antarctic ice shelf suddenly disintegrated. This week, alarming news from...Greenland[,whose] ice sheets cover 1.7m square km...and surface of ice rises to altitude of 3km. [Normal understanding] was that Greenland ice sheet relatively stable in centre, but thinning slowly at edges... That [now] questioned... [H]ave found that flow-speed of 12 glaciers, which together account for about half the discharge of water from ice sheet, is increasing - and fast... The speed at which the glaciers flow has doubled to 12km a year. As a result, volume of ice falling into the sea from Greenland has also doubled over past decade. [A]lso found Greenland ice sheet experienced a greater area of surface melting... Most of this has been in south of island, i.e. where accelerating glaciers lie.Water flowing from surface could ease the passage of glaciers into the sea. [Combined, impact of]Greenland ice sheet to rise in global sea levels has increased from 0.23mm a year in 1996 to 0.57mm in 2005. On top of this,.. an increased flow of fresh water... could change the way currents flow in North Atlantic, to detriment of Gulf Stream[, which makes] north-west Europe warmer"."The[US] Environmental Movement: Endangered Species"(32-3):-while major article is ostensibly concentrated on problems faced/ generated by hundreds of NGOs within US, the impact of their difficulties is already global (e.g.Kyoto).

 

The Economist 25 Feb 06"The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership: Reactor Dreams"(38-40):-attempt tocombine global need for vastly more nuclear energy with restraint on global nuclear WMD. "[US President]Bush's problem is how to deal with proliferation risks while promoting nuclear power. His solution: getcountries that already have advanced nuclear industries to 'lend'nuclear fuel to poorer countries thatneed it, then recover spent fuel from them for recycling and burning down, getting rid of dangerousnuclear wastes... Harder to do covert nuclear dabbling [Iran? North Korea?]. [B]y 2050... there will be 1,000 nuclear power stations about the globe[450 today. So] proliferation risks will grow too. Bush hopes new safer/smaller/simpler reactors for [poorer] countries, and new technologies extracting more energy from fuels [plus reduced waste problems.] If GNEP technologies...move to production, plutonium stockpileseventually eliminated. [I]dea has had good hearing in London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo (potentialpartners) and Vienna(UN IAEA). But will they also chip in to huge cost of making technology work? Bushincluded $250m in next budget for R&D,with larger sums promised for 10-year effort to produce pilot fast-burner reactor. Danger basing policy on technology that may never work/be exorbitantly costly. [Also]problem of where waste will go. [Even] recycled fuel wastes take 1,000 years[to pass radioactivity peak].

 

The Economist 18 Mar 06"Radioactive Waste Disposal: A Modern Philosopher's Stone"(76-7):-proposal is complex but of global importance. Item's own summary:"It may be possible to destroy much of the world's long-lived radioactive waste, if new experiment in Japan proves successful". Essence: "Nuclear[power] reactors...break uranium atoms...into lighter...'fission'products such as technetium. Thisreleases energy, along with sub-atomic particles called neutrons [which release more neutrons i.e. chain reaction. Some]neutrons, however, are captured by uranium nuclei that makes them heavier still [i.e. intoneptunium, plutonium, americium, curium]. All these by-products are radioactive, and many will remain so for thousands/millions of years. They are thus difficult to dispose of. But Kyoto Univ. has dusted off[old Geneva scheme to transmute nuclear waste so it] can be disposed of safely... About 95% of used nuclear fuel is [still uranium, so first the 5% waste is extracted. These] radioactive elements to be transmuted are then turned into a target for protons fired out of a particle accelerator... The main role of protons is to knock neutrons free from nuclei in the target. These neutrons should, if all goes well, beabsorbed by technetium and other fission products, transmuting them into new elements. They will alsobreak up the elements heavier than uranium into products similar to those from uranium fission.Although, initially, the new elements will be more radioactive than the spent nuclear waste was, thatradioactivity will last only a few hundred years. This means that the dumps into which they are put neednot be as secure (or as expensive) as those envisaged for long-term waste-storage. As bonus, the whole process should generate more energy than it consumes. [So such] transmutation is worth considering".

 

The Economist 01 Apr 06"Nuclear Power in Japan: Allergic Reactions"(37):-"Japan relies on nuclear power for nearly a third of its electricity, and a lack of local sources of energy, coupled with a national commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, imply this figure will have to rise to 40% over the next few years. But deep suspicion of nuclear energy and its regulation is not helping. Local oppositions...forced three utilities to shelve plans for new nuclear plants. In Mar a court ordered the newest/biggest of the country's 55 reactors... to stop operations [just] after it had come onstream. [R]esidents argued reactor's design took too little account of risk of big earthquakes. Power utility plans to appeal. [I]n Japan, [all reactors sit in 'significant'seismic activity, but] to date the performance of Japan's nuclear plants has been exemplary during earthquakes[: unruffled or automatically shut down]. Nonetheless,human errors and cover-ups have generated unease [four events 1995-2004 through work faults are identified]. Still, Japan's nuclear program is not completely off rails. This week, governor of prefecture [in north Japan] gave his blessing to Japan's first commercial nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant";"Climate Change: Hot Under the Collar"(46-7):-Official summary:"Britain will miss its much-trumpeted carbon-emissions target, for all the government's proposed new measures". Both items involve:(1) reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions(Kyoto target); (2) expansion of nuclear energy (op.cit. very end of Economist28 Jan 06 i.e."Nuclear Power: Technology Transfer"); (3) related government problems that include limited public support. "Government is keen to point out that Britain should still meet its Kyoto target... Why isthe tougher, self-imposed target proving so elusive? Some of the reasons are beyond official control...But most of the blame belongs at the government's door...In the end, problem is that climate change is not yet a vote-winner [but] reputation will suffer abroad". Could this also fit Japan? Other G-8 states?

 

The Economist 22 Apr 06"The Oil Market: Nostalgia For Calmer Days"(Edit.11);Special Report:"The Oil Industry: Steady As She Goes"(65-7):-both raise global concerns like those in David Goodstein's Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil(op.cit.); Report implies his serious policy change is being widely adopted.Editorial argues:"Uncertainty looks a bigger problem than high prices... The most promising territory forexploration lies in unstable places such as Mideast/Russia... Other factors[:] flood of new speculative investment in... commodities, especially oil; unknown how expensive oil will affect world economy; inlong term, biggest uncertainty is technology". Highlights of Report:"[W]hat really matters to world economy is not when conventional oil production peaks, but whether we have enough affordable/convenient fuelfrom any source to power [transport]. [G]lobal oil industry is on verge of dramatic transformation from a risky exploration business into technology-intensive manufacturing business... Race on to manufacture 'greener fossil fuels' for blending into petrol/diesel today, thus extending useful life of world's remaining oil reserves. Shift in emphasis... opens door to firms outside oil industry... that are keen on alternative energy. May even result in breakthrough that replaces oil altogether... Oil production capacity mightactually grow sharply over next few years...World's oil-production capacity could increase by as much as 15m bpd between 2005 and 2010 - biggest surge in history - most... already budgeted/in development. Bigfirms struggling to replace reserves, but that does not mean world is running out of oil; just that they donot have access to the vast deposits of cheap and easy oil left in Russia/OPEC... Non-OPEC oil production will probably peak by 2010 or 2015 - but it says nothing of global picture... World has around 3 trillion barrels of recoverable conventional oil .Only one-third has been produced [and] if 'unconventionable'hydrocarbons such as tar sands/shale oil included, resource base grows dramatically - and peak recedesmuch further into future... Technological breakthroughs such as multilateral drilling help defy predictionsof decline... Globally, oil industry recovers only about 1/3 of oil known to exist in any given reservoir. [But]new technologies lifting 'recovery rate'[and] drilling in deeper waters/more difficult terrain/Arctic.Large[areas] not been explored with modern kit... So vast are remaining reserves, and so well distributed today's producing areas, that [even] radical revision downwards... does not mean a global peak is here...Whenever the production peak comes, will it inevitably prompt a global economic crisis?.. Good reasons to think that, whenever, it need not lead to a collapse in output [and] it helps to debunk claims of a sudden change. [P]rice signals that would surely foreshadow any 'peak'would encourage efficiency/promote newoil discoveries/speed investments in alternatives to oil... As oil production slows, prices will rise up and down the futures curve, stimulating new technology/conservation. [I]f peak were after 2020 or 2030,... thenrising tide of alternative fuels will help transform it into plateau and ease transition to life after oil. Best reason to think so comes from radical transformation now taking place among big oil firms...Since far more natural gas left than oil,...making fuel in [gas-to-liquids] would greatly increase world's remaining suppliesof oil. So, too, would blending petrol/diesel with ethanol/biodiesal made from agricultural crops, or with fuel made from Canada's 'tar sands' /US shale oil. Firms also investing furiously to convert not only natural gas but also coal into liquid fuel. Alternative fuels will not become common overnight [b]ut recent rise in oil prices has given investors confidence. [U]pstart fuel could yet provide radical breakthrough to sideline oil altogether...All explains why oil production peak unlikely 'for decades' . Governments may decide to shift away from petroleum because of its nasty geopolitics or contribution to global warming. But wrong to imagine world's oil addiction ends soon as result of genuine scarcity.Irony if manufactured fuel...served as bridge to whatever comes beyond the nexus of petrol and internal combustion engine". Economics Focus:"Money To Burn"(74):-"Why oil exporters' enormous surpluses may last longer this time".

 

The Economist 29 Apr 06"The Brazilian Amazon: How Green Was My Valley"(39-40):-important essay onvast Amazon area -with special map- reports on most globally substantial rainforest:"Brazil struggles to put brakes on rampant deforestation without throwing tens of thousand loggers/farmers into poverty". Highlights:"Brazil loses average 20,000 sq.km. rainforest every year... because state lacks will/means to control loggers and, more importantly, ranchers/farmers/land-grabbers. May now be changing. In year to Aug 05, 19,000km2 rainforest destroyed - 1/3 less than year before... Reasons to be wary[: it] was partly because of drop in soya/beef prices - main motors of deforestation; when prices bounce back, so may deforestation. Federal's green contingent insecure[;] environmentalism in states even shakier. Yetenough changing in way government deals with Amazon - including new conservation reserves/newforest law/ tougher enforcement - to hope this marks progress rather than merely pause in destruction.Idea that Amazon needs saving is relatively new. [Region] remains largely isolated...but not intact. Nearly40% 'legal Amazon', covering all Amazonian states, consists of protected areas, such as national parks/ 'indigenous' reserves. Quarter is private poverty, which supposed to be kept 80% forested but often isnot. Most of rest unprotected 'empty land', nominally federal property but prey to speculators, whoassert claims by despoiling it [-even violence]. That prompted government to send in the army. More effectively, [president] has created 150,000km2 of new conservation areas. Earlier reserves concentratedin remote areas[ but] newest ones stand athwart 'arc of deforestation'- great swathe of agricultural development (400km wide-3,000km long) that has eaten into forest -in hope of discouraging furtherincursion. [Disruption of ] illicit economy...will come from combined effect of new laws/police operations/regulatory tinkering/institutional reform/NGOs. Something happening in most of these areas. [After gooddescription, essay concludes: v]ision still long way from being realised [and] judicial/political backlash likely...Despite provisions for 'sustainable'forestry [o]n rescue of Amazon, government clearly still of two minds"."Tropical Rainforests: Giving Credit"(40):-global news item reports:"Rewarding rainforest conservation to help global warming". Highlights:"Tropical deforestation accounts for 20% of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. Yet Kyoto protocol... does nothing to discourage it. Carbon credits will be available for planning new forest but not for preserving what already there. This may change. Atclimate meeting in Montreal Nov 05(op.cit.), nine rainforest countries... proposed that countries thatreduce deforestation below given baseline be eligible for carbon credits, which others could then 'buy'instead of cutting their own emissions. Idea seems to be gaining diplomatic traction. It would be wayto set voluntary targets for developing countries which are now exempt from Kyoto's emission caps. Thatmight encourage rich countries to accept new targets after the current ones expire in 2012. Hard as it is to reduce deforestation, it is easier than changing the way economies burn energy. [Calculated Brazilcould earn $500m/year from carbon credits -] a long way toward paying for conservation of Amazon".

 

The Economist 06 May 06"Alternative Energy: Canola and Soya to the Rescue"(30-1):-For a previous - butglobal - survey: Economist 14 May 05. "As [gasoline] prices rise, [North American] policymakers/venture capitalists are suddenly embracing funky alternatives. Will the fad last?... Soyabeans, canola(rapeseed),switchgrass, anything, is being investigated. Even [US president] for more research into ethanol and biodiesel - two key types of biofuels - and boldly predicted 'ethanol will replace gasoline consumption'. [A] biofuels revolution will not happen in time to ease US current pain at gas-stations. Right now,ethanol - a clean-burning, high-octane alcohol typically derived from corn in US, or sugar in Brazil -accounts for just 3% of US gasoline use, though US cars can handle a 10% ethanol blend. Biodiesel isused even less. [P]olicy is beginning to lift biofuels from obscurity... Ethanol can be dispensed at regular gas-stations and works, within limits, in today's cars. [As it] is typically blended with regular fuel, [s]ceptics argue that growing crops for ethanol will burn more gasoline than it will save. But others arepersuaded, despite the teething pains[, so c]an production be scaled up? A recent bioengineering breakthrough means that it should soon be possible to convert plant products far more efficiently to ethanol. This lends promise to cellulosic ethanol - a product that can be made from agricultural 'waste', such as corn cobs or weeds, which is widely available... Biodiesel, as yet, is a smaller enterprise. Itsplants require less capital than those for ethanol. It is growing fast [and] much of the stuff is made from soyabeans [and soon from] cottonseed oil, a bypruduct of cotton production[- and maybe even] from pig manure... If biofuels do take off, environmentalists/policymakers still unable to relax. [B]iofuels 'not a silver bullet'. [A]lthough US production could rise to 100b gallons of biofuels by 2050, such changes alsoneed to be combined with improved fuel efficiency... More flex-fuel vehicles, which can take up to 85% ethanol blended with gasoline, would be particularly sensible".

 

The Economist 13 May 06"Special Report: Japan and its Neighbours: A Giant Stirs, A Region Bridles"(25-7);"Japan's Succession: After He's Gone"(51):-"More and more Japanese want their country to have a normal foreign and defence policy. US agrees. China and South Korea aren't so sure... Security perceptions in East Asia are fluid indeed, and so are the realities. China's attempts to modernise itsarmed forces have brought big increases in defence spending... Lack of openness that accompanies[this] may reflect the backwardness more than potency of army... Profound changes also under way in armed forces of Japan and US[, and they] have at last reached agreement on how to refresh their long-standing alliance...New agreement completes most sweeping reorganization of US forces in Pacificsince Vietnam war... US believes it will be able to react faster to wider range of possible emergencies - a crisis involving North Korea, say, or Taiwan, or an act of terrorism that might perhaps threaten crucial shipping of South-East Asia... While US keeps Japan as its main base in Asia, Japan will play a muchgreater part in its own defence[, which] could mean equally profound transformation of Japanese armed forces[: their] sweeping reorganisation...puts navy/army/air force under single command for first time since WWII... Japan now says considers Taiwan to be security concern shared in common with US...Yet Japan's military modernisation is rubbing up against limits of constitution...Japan's leaders now see that national interest may sometimes lie far from home... So constitutional debate, including possible rewriting pacifist Article 9, now on political agenda[51]. [But] closest neighbours view prospects of a more activist Japan with rising alarm. Policymakers in China and South Korea claim to detect in Japan's push for 'normalisation'the dangerous rearming of historical foe/colonial overlord. Much of this isoverblown... Problem is that normalisation of Japan's defence not matched by what could be callednormalisation of its nationalism...Consequence is that Japan unable to take any regional initiative...Plainly, repairs needed, and suggestions been forthcoming. Include joint history projects that might attempt to reach consensus about past; more regional forums; national debate in Japan about how tohonour [war]dead and guard sense of national identity without inflaming neighbours...So there's chanceJapan and neighbours could start to put their problems behind them. But no more than that for now".

 

The Economist 27 May 06"[US] Democrats and Global Warming: The Politics of Meltdown"(30):-"[Former VP and Democrats' 2000 candidate against Bush,] Al Gore, has brought [his most deeply/professionally concerned] issue back into political spotlight. His film about horrors of global warming,'An Inconvenient Truth', opened this week. [For details: Economist 06 May 06"New Film: Apocalypse Now?"(83) describes it as "a fascinating and alarming polemic... inspired by lectures/slide-show on global warming Gore has delivered more than 1,000 times [about]'our planetary emergency'".Concludes he may be right :"time is running out faster than most of the world thinks". Also: Andrew C.Revkin"'An Inconvenient Truth': Al Gore's Fight Against Global Warming"NYT 22 May 06:-"[N]ew documentary about former VP Al Gore'squest to spur action against global warming... He laments being unable so far to awaken the public towhat he calls 'planetary emergency'despite evidence that heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe gasesare warming the earth, and even after Hurricane Katrina and Europe's deadly 2003 heat wave, which he calls a foretaste of much worse to come... Question now is whether the documentary, with potential to reach millions of people instead of a roomful of listeners at a time, can do the job".] Gore consistently waves away [candidacy, b]ut other prominent Democrats are raising their voices for the cause. [Gore also pressing literature: Michiko Kakutani"Books of the Times: Al Gore Revisits Global Warning, With Passionate Warnings and Pictures"NYT 23 May 06:-"[I]ssue has been making inroads in collective imagination, spurred by new scientific reports pointing to rising temperatures around the world andmelting ice fields in Greenland and Antarctica. A year ago, [US] National Academy of Sciences joinedsimilar groups from other countries in calling for prompt action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions... A new Time/ABC News/Stanford Univ. poll showed that 87% of [US] respondents believe government should encourage/require lowering of power-plant emissions... Gore... has revived the slide presentationabout global warning that he [has been giving] on the road, and he has now turned that presentation intoa book and a documentary film, both called 'An Inconvenient Truth'... Book, as user-friendly introduction to global warming and succinct summary of many of the central arguments laid out in other [new books],... is lucid, harrowing and bluntly effective".] This week Senator Hillary Clinton urged action on global warming in a big speech on energy policy [and] praised Gore as a 'committed visionary on global warming for more than two decades' . Last week, her husband [former US president] Bill Clinton told[university] graduates: 'Climate change is more remote than terror, but a more profound threat'. Gallup poll this spring found 67% US respondents thought quality of environment getting worse [2002=54%; and]a few bad hurricanes may change political indifference. [Annual]season begins next week, and federal meteorologists predict it will be particularly nasty". [Latest: John Schwartz"2 Studies Link Global Warming to Greater Power of Hurricanes"NYT 31 May 06:-"Climate researchers at Purdue Univ. and MIT separately reported new evidence [30 May] supporting the idea that global warming is causing stronger hurricanes[-] subject of a long-running scientific dispute".] "Gregg Easterbrook of the Brookings Institution sayspoliticians... should appeal to US optimism, emphasising that the problem can probably be solved after all, and cheaper and faster than anyone thinks". [This directly relevant to new report issued by Christian Aid, based on figures of UN and key Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Reuters"Climate Change May Kill Millions in Africa - Report"NYT 14 May 06:-"Disease spread by global warming could kill an extra 185m people in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of century and turn millions more into refugees unless rich nations take action now, report said".] While President Bush has recently conceded [only] that USis 'addicted to oil',... Senators of both parties have sponsored legislation for cap-and-trade emissions of greenhouse gases, and declared ... 'Climate change is real and having major impact on our way of life'". [Split views over greenhouse threat of carbon dioxide, however, already affect design of themany/unavoidable electric power coal-plants. See: Simon Romero"The Energy Challenge: Coal May Be Fuel of the Future, but Industry Battles Over Path" NYT 28 May 06:-"Future of US energy users is playing out in coal-rich areas... US enough to last...two centuries at current use rates...But conventional process for burning coal in power plants has one huge drawback: one of largest manmade sources of the gasesresponsible for global warming. Many scientists say sharply reducing emissions of these gases could make more difference in slowing climate change than any other move worldwide [and] US companies are best positioned... in adopting new technique to limit environmental impact of the more than 1,000 coal-fired power projects on drawing boards around the world. On this issue, however, executives ofsome of the most important companies in coal business diverge. Their disagreement crucial in debateover how to satisfy US' s growing energy appetite without accelerating climate change".] Debate may well stay hot through the 2008 primaries. But past experience suggests general election will be won or lost on other, more serious issues."[I agree, but only because neither candidate would push inaction.]

 

The Economist 03 Jun 06 "Nuclear Power: The Shape of Things to Come"(77-8):-"[N]ew generation of reactors will be 'highly economic'with 'enhanced safety', that 'minimize wastes' and will prove 'proliferation resistant'[says US agency. While] fine words not enough,..yet political interest in nuclear power is reviving across world, thanks in part to concerns about global warming/energy security.Already, 441 commercial reactors operate in 31 countries/provide 17% of planet's electricity. [One aim now is] how to extend their lives. Another 32 reactors being built, mostly in India/China/their neighbours...Modern designs need to be less accident prone [and] most important feature of safe design is that it 'fails safe'. This means that if control systems stop working it shuts down automatically, safely dissipates heat produced by reactions in its core, and stops both the fuel and radioactive waste... from escapingby keeping them within some sort of containment vessel. Reactors that follow such rules are called 'passive'. Most modern designs are passive to some extent and some newer ones are truly so[, although] likely to be more expensive to run. Nuclear energy is produced by atomic fission. A large atom (usuallyuranium or plutonium) breaks into two smaller ones, releasing energy and neutrons. Neutrons thentrigger further break-ups. If this 'chain reaction'can be controlled, energy released can be used to boil water, produce steam and drive a turbine that generates electricity. (Never extreme [explosion] in a reactor as fuel is less fissile than bomb material.) In many new designs the neutrons/chain reaction arekept under control by passing them through water to slow them down. Water is exposed to pressure ofabout 150 atmospheres... When nuclear reactions warm the water, its density drops, and neutronspassing through are no longer slowed enough to trigger further reactions. That negative feedbackstabilises the reaction rate. [Most US reactors/planned Finnish one are of this type, but latter also [hasseveral protective measures against accidents, including] four independent emergency-cooling systems. [French plan/four Chinese plants are similar. Canadian design has pressurised heavy-water reactors, but contains water in which hydrogen atoms replaced by deuterium, and so uses natural uranium.]Cheapness of fuel balances cost of the heavy water. Moreover, instead of using single large containment vessel, fuel is held in hundreds of pressure-resistent tubes. CANDU reactors can thus be refuelled while operating, making them more efficient than light-water reactors. [India/China have reactors of this type.]South African 'pebble-bed'design... uses graphite to regulate flow of neutrons, and... heats an inert or semi-inert gas to drive turbines. [Again,] reactors can be refuelled while running... Further into future,...plants that could be built 2030-40 [include] trick of generating their own fuel, since fast neutrons can convert non-fissile isotopes of uranium into highly fissile plutonium. [C]omplicated designs could be expensive. Operate at very high temperatures, so cooling fluids through cores may be liquid metals".

 

The Economist 10 Jun 06"Aircraft Emissions: The Dirty Sky"(Edit.10); "Companies and Climate Change: Can Business Be Cool?"(59-60); "Special Report: Aircraft Emissions: The Sky's the Limit"(67-9);"Emissions Trading: Gaming Gases"(69):-all four relate to major actions influencing climate change, withemphasis on the greenhouse gases generated by aircraft. Editorial's argument is that "Governments need to take action to cut aircraft emissions".Major points:"So far, political rows about global warming centred on two polluters: smoggy factories/dirty cars. Now new front being opened up - in the skies... European Parliament [soon] votes on whether to extend its emissions-trading system to airlines. If decides in favour...will affect...all those that fly into/out of EU. Talk about this...soured International Air Transport Ass' n[and] airlines set to face vociferous demands should pay for emissions [more problems/arguments:Special]. [A]irlines... produce only 3% of world's man-made carbon emissions. Surface transport produces 22%; Europe merchant ships 1/3 more than aircraft, and nobody going after them. Airlines = public transport[and] have improved lives of millions. [Also, in certain routes] air travellers cannot switch [practically]to other forms of transport. Nor can aircraft fuel be swapped[-] for now stuck with kerosene, as its energy-density make it only practical fuel to carry in air. Yet in other ways, airlines fine target. Pay no tax on fuel for international flights [and t]heir emissions are especially damaging - partly because nitrogen oxides from jet-engine exhausts help create ozone - potent greenhouse gas, and partly because [contrails]aircraft leave behind them help make clouds that can intensify greenhouse effect. Industry's energy consumption growing faster than that of other polluting industries. [So,]air transport soon central, not marginal, to emissions issue...Excessive regulation would...throttle industry[, but] airlines...must payfor pollution. [While] other forms of transport cannot easily replace flying, demand [is]sensitive to price[,and many] business -related [flights optional]... Air pollution is collective problem [which here] requiresgovernment... policy change. [Since a direct tax on emissions would be unprecedented, dealing with them] by a trading system is practical: a system already exists [-] world's first serious attempt to cut emissionsinternationally(69).[To] tackle climate change...means raising costs for all sources of pollution".

The Economist 24 Jun 06"Philanthropy: Give and Make"(Edit.12);"How To Save the World: Bolton v Gore"(38):-both deal - in very different flavors - with the world's vast/quick need for responsible aid from therich/smart. [My own deep feelings are at end of this item.] Editorial makes case that "Admirably, Bill Gatesseems as serious about giving his money away as he was about making it...No matter what inspiration,philanthropy is good for doing all sorts of things governments fail at. Free of vicissitudes of votes/public opinion, philanthropists can take on causes that are unpopular or neglected... So applaud Gate's decisionto make giving away money his day job, and to work at Microsoft part-time... Gates Foundation, whichalready does a fine job, will do even better. He is also setting an example to those, such as his friend, William Buffett,.. who look likely to leave the task to someone else. [See particularly following major articles/essays: Timothy L.O'Brien & Stephanie Saul"Buffett to Give Bulk of His Fortune to Gates Charity"New York Times 26 Jun 06; Donald G.McNeil Jr. & Rick Lyman"Buffett's Billions Will Aid Fight Against Disease"NYT 27 Jun 06; Landon Thomas Jr."A Friendship: A Gift Between Friends"NYT 27 Jun 06; David Leonhardt"How To Give Money as Buffett Does"NYT 28 Jun 06.] Not every donor needs to become a full-time philanthropist - a growing industry of intermediaries can help sort deserving schemes from the rest.What matters is that giver should do more than simply hand over money...Capitalism has demonstrated it is best system for creating great fortunes. More capitalists should show it is best for getting rid of them, too". Bolton/Gore item reports on extraordinary plot by US amb to UN to justify Bush administration'srefusal to implement UN's Kyoto agreement to begin initial global action against the fatal weather crisisby introducing:"A question of priorities: hunger and disease or climate change?" US amb Bolton effectively drew attention of selected UN ambs to the specialized results of "Copenhagen Consensus"(op.cit.) which analysed relative cost/speed/effectiveness of various forms of international 'crisis' activity. "Given a notional $50b [only, seven UN ambs were asked how to] spend it to make the world better place. [T]hey drew up list of priorities [and] top four were basic health care, better water/sanitation,more schools and better nutrition of children. Averting climate change came last. Ambs thought it wiser to spend [strictly limited funds] on things they knew would work". Result would have upset former US VP and presidential candidate against Bush, Al Gore(op.cit.), who "calls global warming 'onrushing catastrophe'and argues vigorously that curbing it is the most urgent moral challenge facing mankind". [My own views:There are both massive-enough rich-nations' assets, and rapidly-expanding factual/ technical facts, available for the 'rich'to fully address any global or globally-relevant needs, withoutfeeling uninformed constraint or substantially-lowered self- standards. Much more important, the entireplanet is now massively and increasingly inter- dependent. It is also now living in an unprecedented planet-wide situation where basic global knowledge is both wide and expanding/accelerating fast - often via social TV. Hence all human beings, however poor/backward, are often now knowledgeable about thegreater power/riches - and apparent misdeeds - of some others, so many groups can feel hurt/frustrated/ religious against others; and might be able to organize terrorism of some sort against selected people/ facilities anywhere. Any terrorist group is ultimately able to use a vast variety of existing/ developable weaponry/poisons in any society on earth. An essential way to reduce this world-wide threat - apart from correcting current complaints asap - can only be to reduce serious/perceived pain/poverty, and obtain -through cooperative intelligence/law among all governments everywhere - advanced information about relevant threats -since all societies may somehow be threatened. But the most defensive and selfishly-beneficial (plus deeply moral) means of easing this situation is for the rich and informed to provide allthe funds/goods/skills necessary to accelerate equity - both obtaining and offering relevant knowledge.]

The Economist 15 Jul 06 "Living With a Strong Russia"(Edit.9); "Special Report: Russia: Richer, Bolder - and Sliding Back"(23-5); "Muslims in Russia: Mosque and State" -Review of: Robert D.Crews For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia(Harvard Univ Press 06)(80-1);Shamil Basayev(Obit. 84):-Editorial suggests world's 7 big democracies should approach St.Petersburg G8 summit's host with"wary engagement" i.e."[H]ow to live with strong, but increasingly undemocratic, Russia. Since Vladimir Putin president in 2000, Russia has in many ways been a remarkable success. [With] high oil prices,economy has grown by average of 6.5%/year. Living standards have improved; sizeable middle classemerged; stockmarket boomed; huge current-account surplus is paying off last of debt; rouble fully convertible. Russia hopes to join World Trade Organisation. Russians grateful[:]like stability; welcomebounceback from 1998; once more count for something in world. Putin popularity 70%... Yet...becomeclearer Russia moving in wrong direction. Economy... has bred corruption/inefficiency; serious politicalopposition crushed; broadcast media shut down or taken over; regional governors squashed; parliament emasculated - continuing Kremlin's drive...to monopolise power. Truth is there was no particular moment when Putin 'started to go wrong'. [H]e was determined from outset to control TV channels and stamp out political opposition. His background as KGB officer [means] not wishy-washy... over democracy/human rights. So what can West do? [N]ot a lot... Russia will almost certainly change only from within - or not at all. [Yet] Putin is sensitive to outside criticism[, so] Western leaders...should speak out: against moves away from democracy; against policy in Chechnya [Basayev]; against use of energy to bully neighbours. [H]elp NGOs; press for free/fair elections. [Not: expel from G8; push for more NATO among ex-Soviet.]Russia...still matters and West could care about where it is going. Best policy now is 'wary engagement'".

The Economist 15 Jul 06 "Nuclear Energy: Return to the Atomic Age"(55-6):-although item reports British decision to re-develop major nuclear energy policy, government/public views may be globally relevant."Government wants new nuclear-power plants... Rehabilitation of nuclear power has been as fast as it has been remarkable[:] minds have changed. [New government energy] review is careful to discuss[environmental concerns] such as extending main subsidy for renewable energy and promising to help reduce demand[, but] new generation of nuclear-power plants remains the point of the exercise. Three things [have changed government thinking]. First is looming supply crunch [i.e. that both most currentnuclear and coal plants will close anyway] and market would fill the gap with natural gas [- creating] anuncomfortable reliance on a single fuel [- and] increasingly imported. Second concern is climate change[: carbon emissions must be reduced]. Last,..high oil and gas prices will persist, improving theeconomics of nuclear power...Nuclear lobby claims newest reactors cheaper to build than...predecessors, [EU carbon emission taxes will be saved,] fuel costs are low, and uranium can be bought from stableCanada and Australia... Surveys have shown public support rising over past few years. Biggest worry[of] waste disposal [will be addressed] in another report. Persuading investors could prove harder [as]nuclear power plants are cheap to run but relatively expensive to build. [O]ther countries have resorted to straight subsidies or long-term financing deals. [Report expects] planning will be streamlined and...harder for local residents to object to[, and] new licensing rules will approve reactor designs for construction anywhere... Persuading other political parties to support nuclear power will be final challenge[, but main opposition accepts necessity]. People in power industry seem confident";Economist05 Aug 06 "Nuclear Waste: The Long View"(51):-Comments on expected report, via: "It will be decades before Britain finally deals with its nuclear litter... Once all [current] reactors [retire], the waste will total 478,00 cubic metres, much of which [could] be dangerous for thousands of years... Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM) [just] published final report. [I]t plumps for 'deep geological disposal'[, and] suggests a vast bunker up to a mile underground, in an area of stable rock where any leaks unlikely to contaminate water table, [plus] interim storage in a dedicated facility. But...argues that getting the science right is not enough[: t]echnically sound attempts to dispose of nuclear waste had foundered on rocks of public opinion[, so CORWM proposed] that towns/villages bid to play host to thewaste, in return for 'compensation'from the government. [There has been some criticism from experts,inter alia for lack of details in the report.] In the end, worries over delays of mere decades seem petty and short-sighted next to the challenge of designing something to last for thousands of years".

The Economist 09 Sep 06"Climate Change: The Heat Is On"(Edit.11-2);"A Survey of Climate Change: The Heat Is On"(1-24):-basic argument:"The uncertainty surrounding climate change argues for action, not inaction. US should lead the way".Summary of Editorial:"[At]10,000 years ago, wild/fast [temperature]fluctuations stopped, and climate settled down to balmy/stable state that world has enjoyed since... Man-made greenhouse gases now threaten this stability. Climate change is complicated/uncertain, but, as[Survey]explains, underlying calculation fairly straightforward. Global average temperature expected to increase by between 1.4oC and 5.8oC this century. Bottom[estimate would]make life a [bit]more comfortable for northern areas and a little less pleasant for southern. Anything much higher could lead to catastrophic rise in sea levels, increases in extreme weather such as hurricanes/flooding/drought,falling agricultural production and, perhaps, famine and mass population movement. Nobody knows which is likelier...Predicting how much hotter a particular level of carbon dioxide will make world isimpossible. Not just precise effect of greenhouse gases...unclear; also warming has countless indirect effects... System could right itself or spin out of human control. Uncertainty central to difficulty oftackling problem. Since costs of climate change unknown, benefits of trying anything to prevent it are,by definition, unclear. What's more, if they accrue at all, will do so at some point in future. So is it really worth using public resources now to avert uncertain/distant risk?.. If risk big enough, yes. Governmentsdo it all the time [e.g.keep standing armies]. Individuals, too [e.g.household insurance].Similarly, growing body of scientific evidence suggests risk of climatic catastrophe is high enough for the world to spenda small proportion of its income trying to prevent one from happening. And the slice of global output that would have to be spent to control emissions is probably not huge. Cost differential between fossil-fuel-generated energy and some alternatives is already small, and likely to come down. [U]ltimate cost oflimiting carbon dioxide concentrations to 550 parts per million or below (current level 380ppm; 450ppm reckoned to be ambitious; 550ppm liveable with) struggle with uncertainties too. Some models suggest there would be no cost; others that global output could be as much as 5% lower by end of century than if no attempt to control emissions. But most estimates are at low end - below 1%. Technological and economic aspects of problem are, thus, not quite as challenging as many imagine. Real difficulty ispolitical. Climate change one of hardest policy problems world has ever faced. Because global, it is in every country's interests to get every other country to bear the burden of tackling it. Because long-term,it is in every generation's interest to shirk responsibility. Kyoto protocol, which tried to get the world'sbig polluters to commit themselves to cutting emissions to 1990 levels or below, not a complete failure.EU and Japan will probably hit their targets, even if Canada doesn't. Kyoto also created global market in carbon reduction: allows emissions to be cut relatively efficiently. But will not have much impact on emissions - therefore on speed of climate change - because does not require developing countries to cut emissions, and because US did not ratify it. US world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases,though not for long. China building power-generating capacity, almost all burning coal - dirtiest fuel.Will shortly overtake US, and India not far behind. Developing countries argue, quite reasonably, thatsince rich world created problem, it must take lead in solving it. If US continues to refuse to do anything to control its emissions, developing countries won't do anything about theirs. If US takes action, theyjust might. Two measures needed. One:..price on emitting greenhouse gases. Could be a carbon tax ora cap-and-trade system [such as EU] which limits how much producers can emit, and lets them buy and sell emissions credits. Ideally, politicians would choose more efficient carbon tax: implies relatively stable price producers can build into investment plans. Cap-and-trade system, however, easier to sell to producers, who can get free allowances when scheme introduced. Either scheme should decrease use of fossil fuels and increase use of alternatives - bound to raise energy prices. To keep down price rises, and thus ease political process, governments should employ a second tool: spending to help promising new technologies get to market. Carbon sequestration... is a prime candidate. Although George Bush now argues US needs to wean itself off its dependency on oil, administration still refuses to take serious action. But others in US are moving [states,businesses, conservatives, Christians, neo-cons]. Bush has two years left in his job. He would like to be remembered as a straightshooter who did the right thing. Tackling climate change would be one way to do that". Economist 30 Sep 06 Letters:"A Hot Topic"(18):-North American version contains seven unusually expert - and constructive - comments on the above. Carl Wunsch, Professor of Physical Oceanography at MIT, offers major scientific qualifierthat ends:"Many real climate change effects exist and require urgent attention; focusing on near-impossible Gulf Stream failure is an unproductive distraction".Stuart Eizenstat, Washington DC,suggests expanded credit for forestry-based offsets... would give a much needed boost to US re-engagement on [Kyoto] issue".Philip Raphals, Helios Centre, Montreal, concludes "Canada appears to be the only country in the world that has announced its refusal to respect its commitments under Kyoto,apparently in belief that its sanctions have no bite".Others: transport; China; south hemisphere; Al Gore.

The Economist 23 Sep 06"Technology Leapfrogs: Behind the Bleeding Edge"(Edit.16):-"[S]ome cases,particularly in developing world, when technological progress takes form of a leapfrog [-] adopting anew technology directly and skipping over the earlier, inferior versions... By far best-known example is that of mobile phones in developing world. Fixed-line networks poor or non-existent in many developing countries, so people have leapfrogged straight to mobile phones. Number of mobile phones now far outstrips number of fixed-line telephones in China/India/sub-Saharan Africa [Technology Quarterly(TQ)summary on mobile phones-PCs follows]. By very nature, mobile networks far easier/faster/cheaper to deploy than fixed-line networks. [Another leapfrog:] more energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDS)[,which] could have [great] impact in parts of developing world that lack mains power/electric lighting.LEDS' greater energy efficiency makes it possible to run them from batteries charged by solar panelsduring the day [TQ LEDS-summaries follow]. So prospect of another leapfrog, as rural poor skip over electric grids and straight to a world of energy-efficient appliances run using local 'micropower'sources. Other leapfrogs include embrace by China/Brazil of open-source softwear; China's plan to build series of 'eco-cities' from scratch based on new green technologies [TQ eco-cities summary follows].Being behind 'bleeding edge'of technological development can sometimes be good thing[:] early versions of a technology...can be avoided... Leapfrog technologies can also spread faster, as do not facecompetition from entrenched earlier systems. And leapfrogging straight to green technology means no need to dispose of the old, dirty one... Lesson [:] wrong to assume developing countries will follow same technological course as developed.[If] anticipate/facilitate leapfrogging, can prosper as result. "Splitting the Digital Difference" Computing: A variety of novel approaches aim to bridge the gap between mobile phones and PSs in the developing world (3-4 in 23 Sep 06; all items in TQ chapter)."Visions of Ecopolis"Technology and the Environment: China has ambitious plans to build a model 'eco-city'near Shanghai.how green will it be?(20-3). "An Even Brighter Idea" Lighting Technology: Light bulb is synonymous with invention. But, as this case history explains, it may lose out to the light-emitting diode, which is better in many ways. 'Light bulbs are among last devices that use vacuum tubes, an old technology that has been replaced in radios and most televisions' (26-8)."Lighting Up the World" Greatest impact of LED-based lighting could be in developing countries, where can be powered by batteries or solar panels(28).

The Economist 04 Nov 06"Economics of Climate Change: Stern Warning"(Edit.14);"Bagehot: Politics of Climate Change [or] We're All Green Now. Up To a Point"(68);"Climate Change: A Report With Political Aims [or] It May Be Hot in Washington Too"(69-70);"Deforestation: Stopping the Chopping"(70):-Editorialpoints:"Sir Nicholas Stern, head of Britain's government [see 68] economic service ,[suggests in a report]that what he calls' market failure on greatest scale world has seen'should lead planet to panic. Critics argue with his economics[see 69-70, but] no reason to ignore his recommendations. [Aim:] to counterthe argument of those [particularly in US] who accept that global warming is happening but believemitigating it is too expensive to be worthwhile. [Means:] assess future costs of climate change - drought in Africa, floods in Europe, hurricanes in US, rising sea levels around the world - and set them against costs of cutting fossil-fuel usage enough to stabilise carbon-dioxide concentrations in atmosphere. [R]eckons world could stabilise concentrations at reasonable level at cost of 1% of GDP by 2050". Most other informed economists agree with that, but estimate that if climate change unrestrained, over next hundred years would cost 0-3% of global output. Report argues, however, that costs would be a massive 5-20% over the next century or two, and justifies these high numbers on basis: that world warming of 5-6% is now a real possibility, and that outlying catastrophes should not be ignored. Report has generated both support/criticism, but Economist argues "central perception is that governments should act not on basis of likeliest outcome from climate change but on risk of something really catastrophic[as with insurance. W]orld should invest a small proportion of its resources in trying to avert the risk of boiling the planet. Costs are not huge. The dangers are". Item on 70 stresses global carbon dioxide relevance/handling of "forests' upkeep". Among many, mostly positive, other media items: Andrew C. Revkin"British Government Report Calls for Broad Effort on Climate Issues"NYT 30 Oct 06:-"Reportcommissioned by British government... calls for substantial international cooperation to combat global warming and doubling public spending on research into low-carbon technologies... Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is online at sternreview.org.uk."[3 pages]. AP [same title/source/date]:-"Unchecked global warming will devastate world economy on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression, British report said, as the country launched bid to convince doubters that environmentalism and economic growth can coincide"[3 pages]. Heather Timmons"Britain Warns of High Costs of Global Warming"NYT 31 Oct 06:-"Britain warned that failure to act swiftly on global warming would havecataclysmic effect on global economy and said it was stepping up efforts to get other nations involved".New York Times Editorial"Avoiding Calamity on the Cheap"03 Nov 06:-"[Stern's] basic point seemsunassailable: failure to act now will exact much greater penalties later on... But world's leading producer of greenhouse gases, US, is doing scandalously little... In age when people worried not only about warming but also about country's dependence on imported oil, federal effort on alternative energy sources is pathetically small... Bush and many in Congress remain steadfastly opposed - still convinced, it appears, that calamity can be avoided on the cheap". AP"Leaders to Force Global Warming Issue"NYT03 Nov 06:-"Leaders of Britain and Germany said would work to put global warming at top of international agenda and would try to get US more involved in confronting the problem". Stuart E.Eizenstat, OP-ED Contributor"Seeing the Climate Policy for the Trees"04 Nov 06:-item relevant to both Stern/ forestry:"There is a little recognized but vital element to re-engaging US in solving problem of global climate change:forests. Creating financial incentives to protect forests/promote tree planting would be attractive to poornations but also to US firms/farmers, giving US potent political reason to get involved in international climate policy. And time is running out. Recent British report...emphasized urgent strong action now -from all countries... One major obstacle preventing US participation in an international climate regime is lack of binding commitments [by] developing countries. This is where forestry comes in"[3 pages].

The Economist 11 Nov 06"Nuclear Power: Half Life"(71-2):-official summary:"The nuclear industry is predicting a rapid expansion - but that will not happen without government help". Highlights: "International Energy Agency(IEA) [new report] overturned IEA's previously pessimistic view of prospects for nuclear power. It now estimates nuclear generation will grow by at least 13% by 2030, andperhaps as much as 40%... General Electric(GE)...predicts that 66 gigawatts of new capacity - equivalent to output of about 44 big reactors - will be ordered by 2020. Areva, French nuclear firm, foresees 130 new plants by 2030. Several reasons for this optimism[:] prices of rival power sources, including coal/natural gas, have risen dramatically[;] nuclear power is 'carbon free'[i.e. climate-changing carbon dioxide;] uranium comes from stable sources such as Canada and Australia so interruptions to suppliesunlikely[;] GE/Areva/Westinghouse also touting new designs that they say are safer than existing nuclear plants. [Only two reactors currently under construction(Finland)/firmly planned(France).] Main problemseems to be 'regulatory risk'- euphemism for fear politicians/planning officials/ protesters will hold upor entirely derail construction of new plants. Another worry[:]new reactors, on unproven technology,will cost more than expected to build/run. Construction accounts for as much as 75% of cost of nuclear generation, since fuel/other operating costs relatively low. [Hence the] big initial outlay leaves profitssusceptible to delay. [Item then describes several national nuclear power situations, and ends:] In most countries... future of nuclear power rests more on political situations than commercial or technologicalones. Investors will be reluctant to commit themselves without a big shift in public opinion or pledges from governments to push through planning approval or defray the cost of any delays".

The Economist 18 Nov 06"Alternative Energy: Green Dreams"(Edit.13) with official summary: "The flood of money into clean energy is better news for society than it is for investors";"Nuclear Power and [US]Mountain West: The Uranium Rush"(37) official summary:"Prospectors flock west"; "Charlemagne: Soot, Smoke and Mirrors"(54)official summary:"Europe's flagship environmental program foundering";"Special Report: Investing in Clean Energy: Tilting at Windmills"(71-3) official summary:"Clean-energy business is turning into next big investment boom, in which risks lightly brushed aside"; "California's Solar Wineries: Dionysus, Meet Helios" (72)official summary:"Solar power is new vintage";"Environment: Seeing the Wood"(84) official summary:"New way of counting trees finds more than was thought";"Alternative Fuel:Gas Guzzler"(84-5)official summary:"Saloon car powered by liquid hydrogen unveiled"; "Wireless Power:Cut the Cables"(85)official summary/key point: "Practical way to recharge gadgets without plugging them in/ transmission of power...more efficient". All report on major events that could reduce climate change. Editorial highlights:"[F]lood of money into new technologies [:]excellent news for society. More private-sector investment in green technologies will mean cheaper clean energy, lower fossil-fuel consumption and a greater chance of averting serious climate-change. And there are solid long-term reasons to expect demand for clean energy to grow. Governments do not want to rely onfaraway, unstable or downright hostile countries for oil and gas. [A]lso increasingly concerned about pollution, especially in form of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. More importantly, high fossil-fuel prices make alternatives look far more affordable/attractive. Clean energy also getting cheaper. Windpower generation down from 8-10 cents to 3.5-4 cents per kwh since 1990 because of better turbines/higher volumes. Solar-power prices have dropped too[; l]ast year the price fallen to about $2.70 per watt. The more money goes into the sector, the faster prices will fall. [Yet] burning natural gas still cheaper way of generating power than using wind turbines[, and coal] still by far the cheapest [- anddirtiest - of all energy sources. Hence] almost all clean energy relies on government subsidies to makeit competitive with fossil fuels... No fewer than 49... have established targets to promote greater use ofrenewable energy sources: voters pay either through higher prices or through direct subsidies [-]probably a reasonably good use of public money. Climate change is a real problem and only way totackle it is to reduce gap between the price of fossil-fuel and alternative energy. [But] a global carbon tax would be a more efficient way to close price gap [since] voters may begin to question logic of certainsubsidies as ever more firms take advantage of them[,] bills begin to rise[,] and some investors [lose].

The Economist 25 Nov 06"Nuclear Power: The Ghostly Flickers of a New Dawn"(59-60):-official summary: "A shift in Australia's stance is a sign of the times: all over the world, governments are rethinking thepolitics and economics of nuclear power". Highlights:"[B]y 2008... Australia may be marching towardsa new nuclear era, prompted in part by fear of climate change. [Its PM said] during a trip to Canada[world's major exporter of uranium] that nuclear power was 'inevitable'choice for Australia. In many parts of world the mood is shifting in favour of nuclear energy - often because other responses to climate change seem harder. That in turn is creating new worries over diversion of nuclear fuel to make bombs [discussed in "Nuclear Fuel: The More There Is, the Bigger the Risk"(60-1) with official summary: "Why proliferation gets harder to stop"], and making the distant dream of nuclear fusion even more attractive [discussed in "Nuclear Fusion: A White-Hot Elephant"(61) with official summary: "A costly project brings countries together, but not many nuclei".]. [A] policy review [has advised:] Australia could quadruple its 2005 revenue from exporting uranium...if it enriched/fabricated fuel first[and recommended]installing its first nuclear reactor by 2020, building up to 25 reactors by 2050.,. and cut greenhouse gasesby almost 20%... Elsewhere in world, so many nations are either building new plants, or thinking about it, that energy analysts are speaking of a nuclear renaissance. New reactors being built in 13 countries.Governments in others[eg UK, US] want to make it easier to start new plants[,and] several European statesare slowing down plans to phase out nuclear power. Asian ones... plan ever more reactors. In most places, nuclear debate hinges on safety cost, the environment and security of supply. [E]ngineering firms say their latest designs are safer. Several claim to build 'passively safe'plants that need no human or mechanical intervention to close after a fault, but rely on laws of physics to contain runaway reactions...Consensus emerging about where to put nuclear waste: most countries want to bury it underground...Nuclear fission one of cheapest ways to make power. [H]owever [were often] delays, cost overruns andbreakdowns. But utilities seem to be getting better at maintenance; some keep reactors going more than 90% of time. In democracies, politics is biggest cause of delay and financial upset. Nuclear policies can be as fickle as government coalitions. Public opinion and local planners often more sceptical than national authorities... Planning aside, nuclear plants can be hard to finance, since cost more and takelonger to build than coal- or gas-powered... If there is a rebirth, it may lie in the mere fact that nuclear power is being discussed, not in any consensus about its merits". Much earlier Economist on subjects.

 

The Economist 02 Dec 06 "United States: Global Warming: Airing Grievances"(32):-official summary:"Green states take the federal government to court". Highlights:"When subject is global warming, villainis usually US[:] although produces 25% of [world] greenhouse gases, it refuses to regulate them [or ratify] Kyoto protocol [US helped to draft]. But not all US officialdom happy with federal government'sstance[: multi-]states disagree so fiercely,suing to force it to curb emissions of CO2. [P]olitical windseems to be shifting in favour of firmer action to counter climate change. Clean Air Act charges Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regulating air pollution from vehicles. But EPA arguesCongress did not intend to include CO2...and to do so would extend EPA's authority to unreasonableextent. Further, it contends regulating emissions would not do good unless all or most other countriesdid the same. Plaintiffs comprise 12 states [inter alia], supported by further six states [inter alia].Supreme Court may give a mixed ruling [but] environmental groups...want Congress to pass a law tackling global warming [and,] however Supreme Court rules, many state governments determined to tackle climate change. Almost 400 mayors have signed agreement to cut their cities' emissions in linewith Kyoto. Many businesses...rather see regulation now than prolonged uncertainty. [S]everal leadingcontenders for 2008's presidential election are much keener on emissions caps than Bush. Change isin the air"."Europe's Emissions-Trading Scheme: Compressed"(56):-official summary:"European [EU]Commission insists, belatedly, on tighter emissions caps". Highlights:"Europeans like to think they taketheir greenery seriously. Commission... proposing more exacting limits on amount of CO2/other greenhouse gases firms allowed to emit in future. [M]ay restore reputation for tackling climate change seriously[, and] even inspire less enthusiastic countries(US) to take more determined action themselves.EU only place sets any limits on output of greenhouse gases. National governments have set caps onoverall emissions and then handed companies a corresponding number of permits to pollute. [T]o exceed, must buy spare permits from cleaner rivals or pay for projects to offset in poor countries. [E]missions-trading scheme(ETS) designed to meet commitment to cut emissions under Kyoto cheaplyas possible... Between 2005 and 2007, governments handed out more permits than needed [and] priceof permits plummeted[, suggesting Europe not cutting emissions very dramatically [- and] setting a poor precedent. [M]onths of revisions/haggling before shape of second phase is clear. [C]ommission has at least shown... determined to be a 'credible regulator'. Might encourage other countries[US] to imitateETS, or even to join it. [M]ight just pave the way for a worthy successor to Kyoto, which expires in 2012"."Monitoring the Environment: Pulse of the Planet"(83):-"New source of data about global environment".

 

The Economist 09 Dec 06 "AIDS And Malaria: A Vicious Circle" (86):-official summary: "Infection with malaria promotes HIV and vice versa" . Highlights: "One of most important organizations designed to combat fatal infectious diseases [among poor:] Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.Link between first two is well established. AIDS does not kill directly. Rather, the damage it does to theimmune system opens an individual to other infections [and] tuberculosis is one of the most important. Some 12% of deaths of people infected with HIV... are from tuberculosis, [while] 16% of tuberculosis deaths are AIDS-related. [M]alaria...kills a lot of people - at least 1m/year. [Analysed in 2 items: "US and Malaria: Finally Clearing the Air" (63-4):-official summary: "US-led drive against one of world's mostdreadful diseases could learn from past mistakes" and "Malaria: Pinning Down Parasites" (86):-official summary: "A new map of malaria should help control the disease" .] But there was little obvious medical connection between it and the other two. No longer. [S]tudies have suggested that those infected with HIV are more susceptible to malaria, and that malarial parasite, in turn, raises number of virus particles in those with HIV. [New study published in Science... has] put some numbers on the problem. Study'sstarting point is that number of virus particles in the blood of someone infected with HIV increases about ten-fold during an attack of malaria, due paradoxically to system's response to malarial parasite... The increase in number of virus parasites is transient,.. but it does make him/her more likely to pass theinfection on during sex. Conversely, damage HIV does to immune system means malarial parasite can more easily breed. That means people are more susceptible to infection in first place, and that more parasites are available to be transmitted from person to person by mosquitos... Model suggests the peak of the HIV epidemic in Kisumu [Kenya] is 8% higher than it would have been were there no interactionbetween the diseases, while peak level of malaria is 13% higher. Moreover,.. malaria peaked only one year after peak of HIV epidemic. All suggests decision to include malaria in HIV-tuberculosis packagewas prescient. Also suggests people of Africa, in particular, are in even more trouble than they realised" .

 

The Economist 06 Jan 07"The United Nations: A Chance For a Safer World"(Edit.9);"Briefing: The United Nations: Mission Impossible"(20-2);"Peacekeeping: Call the Blue Helmets"(22-4):- Editorial's official summary: "How the big powers could make better use of United Nations". Highlights:"UN is derided bymuch of media as divided/bloated/corrupt/impotent[, and] looks incapable of dealing with dauntingproblems of day's world. [Its] Secretary-General[UNSG] takes rap for its failings[, but] is servant of often divided Security Council[UNSC] and has limited power... In 2005 [UNSG] tried to reform UN and was thwarted. Yet mistake to give up on organisation [because:] UN already does far better job than it isgiven credit for [and] some aspects of today's global politics make this good moment for the big powers to work more closely together [since] maybe able to breath fresh vitality into world body and restoresome high hopes of Charter. [UN not perfect in Darfur(Sudan) but UNSC divided so murder continues;besides, in south Sudan UN forces are keeping the peace after an even bloodier civil war for decades.]UN's World Food Program feeds millions [and] 30m people in 50 countries depend on UN relief for verysurvival. Congo just one of 18 different missions, in which about 100,000 UN peacekeepers deployed.These tell you that, although divided UNSC can paralyse UN, not always divided. Moreover, UNSC's five veto-wielding are entering period during which they may see the point of whittling away more of their differences. [T]oday's big powers have few head-on conflicts. There is [commercial] competition rather than a collision of empires of the sort that took place before WWI. Today's disorder stems... from problems all want solved: failed states, terrorism, proliferation and chaotic Mideast. Priorities/tactics differ, but room to cooperate... Iraq-entangled US shows little appetite for new battles [a]nd, although often UN's harshest critic, has come again to see... UN for help with problems. [UN] needs to run faster just to stay in same place/legitimacy[, b]ut at some point will fade unless UNSC takes at least Japan,India, Brazil, Germany and African state into permanent membership so that it reflects today's world.Also needs some military resources of its own to cope with demand for peacekeeping[:] small battle-ready force raised by UN itself... exactly what's needed in Somalia [see:"Somalia: Thank You And Goodbye"(Edit.10);"Somalia: By Dawn the Islamists Were Gone"(41-2)]. In meantime, permanent five could [show] greater willingness to work together. [N]ot going to turn UN into a world government[, b]utat moment when... most anxious about same rate of transnational threats, all big powers ought to see benefit of making better use of potential for joint, lawful international action that UN uniquely provides".

 

The Economist 06 Jan 07"Bulgaria and Romania: The New Kids on the [European Union] Block" (43-4):-access by two more ex-communist states - these with major coast on the vitally-shared Black Sea -might not be soon followed by that of remaining southeast Europe.Yet it could have a growing effect on politics/economics/policies of the entire Balkans, and possibly of the continent. Highlights: "Bulgaria and Romania are already growing strongly; EU money will help. Yet differ from predecessors: Bulgaria's GDP per head (2005) only $3,480; Romania's $4,490 - against EU-wide average $29,330. [Also] backwardin many ways: infrastructure/public services worse than in rest of eastern Europe; corruption more entrenched; political culture more fragile. [Population: Romania 22m; Bulgaria 8m/below 7m by 2020.]Both...on edge of EU, but whereas Bulgarians feel out of mainstream/speak Slavic tongue, Romanians...see themselves as a Latin outpost. Each has sizeable ethnic minority from neighbour: Romania [with]7% ethnic Hungarians; Bulgaria [with] 9% ethnic Turks. Both also have big Roma (gypsy) populations,often living in abominable conditions. Bulgarians thanked Tsarist Russia for liberating them from Ottomans, and many recall communist rule as a time of modernisation. To Romanians, Russia is apredator [which twice seized currently independent Moldova.] Romania is a bastion of Atlanticism in theBlack Sea region [while] Bulgaria is largely passive in foreign policy, though good relations with Russia...Elections may take place in both countries this year. Joining EU has meant [must] meet Brussels standards[, whose] biggest worry is lawlessness: in Romania corruption; in Bulgaria organized crime...OECD study rates Bulgaria higher for investment promotion, but Romania higher on anti-corruption/business integrity, [and] the more individualistic. Transport links between [them] are awful, with just oneroad bridge across Danube. Romania's currency floats, whereas Bulgaria's is pegged to the euro. Both have huge current-account deficits[, and their] euro adoption is at least a decade away. As many as 2m Romanians/800,000 Bulgarians live abroad [and] entry into EU may stimulate emigration. Romania hasadvantage of size, demography and newly confident elite; Bulgaria has stronger industrial base[, but their] road to EU prosperity/stability will be harder [than for other eastern European members].

The Economist 27 Jan 07"Climate Change: The Greening of US"(Edit 9):-official summary: "How US is likely to take over leadership of the fight against climate change; and how it can get it right". Highlights: "While White House dug its heels in on global warming, much of the rest of US was moving. Bush [just]spoke for first time to Congress of ‘the serious challenge of global climate change’; proposed measures designated, in part, to combat it. [New] weather has turned public opinion... Business changing its mind too. Five years ago corporate US solidly against carbon controls, but threat of a patchwork of state regulations, combined with opportunity to profit from new technologies, began to shift business attitudes... Support for carbon controls also grown among some unlikely groups: security hawks [reduce Mideast oil imports]; farmers [subsidies for ethanol]; evangelicals [look after the Earth God gave, better]. This alliance has helped persuade politicians to move[: California’s active governor; in Congress, proliferation of climate change bills; serious candidates for 2008 presidency pushing for federal measures.] Unfortunately, Bush’s new interest [is] distorted by focus on energy security [and r]educing US petrol consumption by 20%... may not be either efficient [ethanol] or clean [liquified coal.] Bush’s failure... is his continued rejection of the only two clean/efficient solutions to climate change. One is a carbon tax. Second a cap-and-trade system... to meet Kyoto targets[: limit firms’ emissions while allowing] buy/sell permits to pollute. Either should, by setting a price on carbon, discourage its emission and encourage development/use of cleaner-energy technologies... Tax is unlikely [so US] should go for tough cap-and-trade system, [learning from Europe’s experience: need good data; auction permits, rather than giving them away free; set a long time-horizon. US] has a duty of moral leadership[: by tackling global warming issue now,] it could regain the high moral ground". "Briefing: Green US: Waking Up and Catching Up"(22-4):-official summary:"Belatedly, and for many reasons, US embracing environmentalism".Reports more specifically on: politicians’/parties’/Congressional plans; states’/firms’ actions/policies; reasons/effects of public concerns. Much on California. Ends:"change is coming fast".

The Economist 10 Feb 07"Bangladesh: Not Uniformly Bad"(Edit.14);"Bangladesh: Everybody But the Politicians Is Happy"(39-41):-"desperately overcrowded" population of 145m is projected to reach 250m by 2050, of which 40% already on a delta flooded for three months of each year. Hence all imperfections in its democracy are important. Formal summary of major item reports: "The new military-backed government has sensible ideas for tackling Bangladesh‛s problems but the worst of these problems, the two begums, are not for quitting". That of Editorial reports: "The army has intervened sensibly in Bangladesh‛s failing democracy. Now it must leave"; its highlights: "Generals took power by stealth 11 Jan, forcing president to declare a state of emergency and appoint a government of technocrats to do their bidding[ - which had] fallen into the usual trap of failing to set a date for the election promised. Generals‛ claim to have been forced to take action... is true. Democratic process had collapsed [and] government unseated was itself unelected. [C]aretaker arrangement was result of chronic distrust between Bangladesh Nationalist Party(BNP) and Awami League(AL) [- which had ruled alternately for past 16 years]. Generals were entitled under constitution to avert [an election slaughter,] but their duty now is limited. [Their] performance has so far been so good that most Bangladeshis seem happy. But it will not last[: people drove] the previous army government from power. [Appalling women] leaders of BNP and AL , called ‛two begums‛, hate each other and refuse to communicate, much less negotiate. Army hopes... beguns retire [but] unlikely. They are too popular and too good at mob politics to be ousted. [W]ider problems call for a change in thinking. Bangladesh is uniquely imperilled by the main threats to global security: climate change, terrorism and state failure".

The Economist 03 Mar 07"South Africa: Just Lighten Up a Little"(Edit.13-4);"Briefing: South Africa: The Long Journey of a Young Democracy"(32-4):-Editorial‛s official summary:"Country is doing well. It would do better if there were more criticism and an opposition". Highlights: "Thirteen years after system of apartheid gave way to freely-elected black-majority government,.. on whole doing pretty well...GDP almost as big as rest of sub-Saharan Africa‛s other 47 countries put together, and been swelling since African National Congress (ANC) took the reins in 1994. Moreover, good example of democracy/steadiness in a continent where tyranny/bloodshed still tragically common. Contributed admirably to cause of peace in Africa‛s bleaker reaches, helping quell civil strife and bolster democracy... Much of credit must go to first post-apartheid president, Nelson Mandela, whose grace and magnanimity let white rule end without reprisals or ruinous flight of whites. [President Thabo] Mbeki has undertaken mission to redeem the rest of Africa by spreading word of good governance [Zimbabwe?] and liberal economics. [Briefing includes a note of sourness.] Economic job ahead is still daunting[:] a good half still live in dire poverty [and] 40%...have no jobs... Though some types of crime have dipped, others are rife... Even more devastating is plague of HIV/AIDS, which has struck 5.5m South Africans and shows little sign of abating. Government... responses have been patchy and prickly. Its policy of ‛black economic empowerment‛... created swathe of public-sector jobs and a new culture of patronage[, which] in long run could slow economic growth. Mbeki‛s response to the AIDS catastrophe has been lamentable. He now seems to accept a link between HIV and AIDS and his government is belatedly rolling out a huge anti-retroviral program, but he still seems loth to promote it properly. Biggest worry... is that a mature multi-party democracy has yet to evolve... ANC politicians seldom take criticism in good part [and] no suitable candidate for [new party leader - ] Africa‛s top job. One day, ANC will face a stronger opposition. [Best legacy] is a willing acceptance that ANC is not pre-ordained to rule forever and that a robust opposition is entirely desirable".

The Economist 10 Mar 07"TECHNOLOGY QUARTERLY"(own 32 pages):-all such items are listed by their full titles, plus their formal summaries/highlighted quotes, in RECENT DEVELOPMENTS. The 10 Mar 07 version, however, contains unusually important items relating to global warming threat, so three are stressed and more fully highlighted here. "Plan B for Global Warming?"(3-4):-official summary:"Environment:‛Geo-engineering‛ is direct use of technology to counteract climate change. Idea is highly controversial." Highlights:"[C]utting greenhouse-gas emissions is not... only way to solve problem of climate change. Just as technology caused the problem, it might also be able to help reverse it. Use of planetary-scale engineering to counteract climate change is known asgeo-engineering‛. [S]ome scientists believe it might be worth thinking about a second line of defence, if only as insurance policy. Idea gained new currency in recent months. [Several reasonably credible proposals then briefly described: giant sunshade in space; tiny particles in upper atmosphere; blasting tiny droplets of seawater into air to stimulate marine cloud; seeding oceans with CO2; reflectors in deserts.] Many greens oppose the whole idea in principle... To start a second experiment in hopes of counteracting the first would be risky, to put it mildly". "Energy: Woodstock Revisited" (16-7):-official summary:"Could new techniques for producing ethanol make old-fashioned trees the biofuel of the future?" Highlights:"[N]otion of exploiting trees for fuel being updated with a high-tech twist. Idea is to make ethanol, a biofuel that usually comes from maize/corn or sugar cane, from trees instead. ‛[T]reethanol‛ has the potential to be much more energy efficient. [F]or ethanol made from trees/grasses/other types biomass which contain a lot of cellulose, energy balance can be [much] high[er], at least in theory. [P]roblem[:] producing such ‛cellulosic‛ ethanol is much more difficult/expensive than producing it from other crops. [So research] racing to develop ways to chip/ferment/distil/refine wood quickly/cheaply... Trees are particularly promising feedstock because they grow all year round, require vastly less fertiliser and water, and contain far more carbohydrates (chemical precursors of ethanol) than food crops do...One idea[:] create new, fast-growing trees to address [time issue], through careful breeding or genetic modification". [Directly relevant to past Economist item is: Matthew L.Wald & Alexei Barrionuevo"The Energy Challenge: A Renewed Push for Ethanol, Without the Corn"New York Times 17 Apr 07:-this brilliant 4-page essay is just one of a series of Energy Challenge articles worth reading]."Energy: Bright Prospects"(22-25):-official summary:"Solar power is... ascendant. But despite its rapid growth, it will not provide a significant share of world‛s electricity for decades". Highlights: "In 2006, photovoltaic systems produced 0.04% of world‛s electricity. [What] has held back widespread deployment of solar panels is price... Even so, many believe the prospects for solar energy have never looked brighter... Within three to eight years, many in the industry expect price of solar power to be cost-competitive with electricity from the grid. [Major investment beneficiaries] focus on new technologies[:] betting on ‛thin filmsolar cells, which can be made with vastly less semiconductor material than traditional silicon-based devices[;] to employ new, continuous manufacturing processes that promise to reduce cost of solar panels very quickly in future. [History of solar power.] But despite growing infusion of capital, innovation and talent, solar power will provide only a tiny fraction of world‛s electricity needs for foreseeable future - not able to supply more than 1% or so of world‛s electricity needs for at least another decade".

The Economist 17 Mar 07"Climate Change: What Price Carbon?"(Edit.15-6);"Charlemagne: Climate Control" (59);"Climate Change: A Hot Topic Gets Hotter"(60-1); "Carbon Offsets: The Trouble with Trees" (61); "Bagehot: Brave Dave v Cautious Gordon"(63):-all five items describe past/present/planned policies in European Union, and particularly Britain in last three. Editorial‛s highlights: "So far, [EU/British] attempts to reduce the emissions that cause climate change have failed. [Both regimes] have learned from some mistakes, though not from others. Governments can try to reduce emissions in three ways: subsidise alternatives, impose standards on products and processes, and price the greenhouse gases that cause the damage. The first is almost always a bad idea; the second should generally be avoided; the third is the way to go. Europeans do all three. [I]t looks as though [US will soon be doing all]. Green energy is fat with subsidies [in many countries already, with more planned]. There will also be more setting of standards[, but, like subsidies, they require governments to allocate resources, and markets are generally better at that than are politicians or bureaucrats. Neither subsidies nor standards should be needed if greenhouse gases are priced to reflect the damage they do. EU‛s emissions-trading scheme (ETS), which caps the amount of greenhouse gases that factories may emit and gives them tradable allowances, is designed to do that. The principle is fine; but because governments handed out too many allowances, emissions have not fallen and the price of allowances has dropped... far too low to induce anybody to constrain their emissions. [Also,] if there‛s no [Kyoto] carbon price after 2012, there‛s no reason to invest in cleaner technology. European Commission slashed governments‛ allocation plans for ETS 2008-12 [and] carbon price for 2010 has risen. [Now] trying to establish a longer-term carbon price [by setting] binding target of [reduced] carbon emissions. [But] the more money governments spend on wasteful subsidies, the bigger backlash likely to be, and the smaller chance of sustaining political will".

The Economist 31 Mar 07"China and Its Region: The Great Game in Asia"(Edit.14):-draws heavily on Dominic Ziegler‛s 18-page"Special Report on China and Its Region", which includes these eight major essays(each title/formal summary/special pages):"Reaching For a Renaissance"(3-6):"So far the world has come to China, but now a rising China is beginning to reach out to the world, starting with Asia, says.. Ziegler. Is that a good thing?";"Smile Diplomacy"(7-10):"Working magic along China‛s periphery";"History Wars"(8):"Whose stele [regional dominant] is it?";"The Export Juggernaut"(10-12):"Good for China, but good for its neighbours too";"Grim Tales"(12-13):"The more growth, the more damage to the environment";"Can We Help You?"(14-15):"How China is wooing a poor neighbour[Cambodia]";"Here Comes Trouble"(15-16):"China‛s little brother [North Korea] is a big headache";"Heavenly Dynasty"(17-18):"As long as China is not satisfied at home, it cannot be satisfied in the world". Special Report's broad sections on China‛s relations with North Korea and Taiwan are summarized where relevant under Ziegler(op.cit.). Editorial's formal summary: "Why are there so few takers outside China for its self-proclaimed doctrine of 'peaceful rise'?". Highlights:-"China's rapid rise to superpower status generates as much fear as admiration [and] fears most acute in its own neighbourhood. Yet...most remarkable ...may be China's submission to... international constraint, expecially in its own region. It belongs to [and/or attends Asian-Pacific, East Asian, South-East Asian and Russia-Central Asian multilateral organizations/meetings. Moreover,] has shown active good-neighbourliness[:] most of its borders... have been settled[, it is] no longer... flexing naval muscles around [disputed] specks in South China Sea[, and it] has begun to 'consult'... the lower riparian states affected when it dams its rivers... Political tactfulness has been accompanied by unplanned makeover of its economic image... Many in the region saw China's supercharged growth as a threat[, but] these days just as many see it as an opportunity. Yet... firm friends hard to find. Even Russia... is a fair-weather friend - or rather sees... insurance policy. India and Japan... view with suspicion at best and, at worst, paranoia... China‛s chums a scanty list... Myanmar plays China off against India/fellow [ASEAN] members. North Korea(op.cit.) spawned a mouth ulcer last Oct when [it] let off nuclear weapon... Of course, any rapidly emerging big power is unsettling[, and] can display a penchant for unilateralism that undermines its diplomacy. [Its] disregard of global environment[:] an ever-bigger issue in foreign relations. [Its] budget called for another big [18%] increase in military spending... Perception therefore exists that China‛s goodwill extends only so far as its interests not affected... In one crucial respect, it is far from a status quo power: its... claim on Taiwan(op.cit.). This is one big reason... for the military build-up, and could bring war with the real superpower. A much better Taiwan policy is available[, b]ut China has sabotaged its own strategy[: Hong Kong] shows how little China cares to lend substance to its promises of autonomy and democracy. [It] will not yield [to either Hong Kong or Dalai Lama, and] warning against infringing on internal affairs. Why so adamant? Communist Party fears that allowing political freedom on its fringes would loosen its ability to monopolise power in China... Internal reform would not change everything;..but until China embraces openness and pluralism at home, no charm offensive is ever going to set its neighbours‛ minds completely at ease". Other items on China in 31 Mar 07 issue: "Vietnam: Plenty to Smile About"(49-50):-"Ancient animosity with China... has been put aside in the interests of prosperity". "China‛s Dairy Industry: Getting Creamed"(50-1):-"PM visited dairy farm and said his dream was that all Chinese drink half a litre of milk a day. In Moscow, China‛s president encouraged Russians to buy more Chinese milk".

The Economist 07 Apr 07"Global Warming: Air Pressure"(28):-official summary:"[US] Supreme Court breathes down the government‛s neck". Highlights:"[Bush's] government has refused to countenance any regulation of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. But 02 Apr 07, in its most important environmental decision for many years, Supreme Court settled... whether government has the authority to curb emissions in the first place. It Ruled that Clean Air Act - a law from 1960s designed to combat smog - gives Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) the power to regulate carbon dioxide. Also said EPA would need an excuse grounded in the original law if it decided not to use this power... Strictly speaking, ruling applies only to emissions from vehicles, but very similar case regarding coal-fired power plants is pending in federal court. Even if [Bush's EPA] proceeds quite swiftly, a new president and Congress with globe-cooling ideas will be in place long before any new rules come into effect. That suits environmental lobby just fine. They hope ruling will spur Congress to address global warming with proper legislation. If 2009 sees greener president, will now have power to dictate stricter fuel efficiency in form of lower CO2 emissions, without reference to Congress". A directly-related item: "Climate Change: All Washed Up"(59):-official summary:-"As the evidence of global warming proliferates, so do the nasty consequences". Highlights:"[L]atest report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), [now says scientists] have much stronger evidence that calamities indeed occurring - faster, in many cases, than they originally thought. [Feb 07] report examined the evidence that globe actually warming. It called evidence 'very high confidence' that it was largely man-made. New report assesses likely impact of global warming. The underlying research will not change... and chapter on current impacts alone rests on review of over 1,000 academic studies... In a synthesis of such studies, report likely to conclude 25% of species face extinction by 2100. [M]ost projections of the impact derive from estimates of changes in average temperature. But many of the ill effects hinge on changes in the minimum temperature, which has been rising twice as fast - particularly strong near the poles, where the climate is changing fastest [and] noxious species... marching northwards... Multiple factors will amplify the effects of global warming on agriculture and forestry. Warmer and drier conditions in many places will reduce yields. [P]ests... will both increase their range and breed more rapidly. An increasing incidence of extreme weather will both damage crops directly and nurture species that prey on them. Report only to inform policymaking, not direct it. But point of frightening statistics... is to jolt politicians into preparing for the coming afflictions. [All types] strategies urgently needed.

 

The Economist 21 Apr 07"Nuclear Fusion: Firing New Shots"(89-90):-official summary:"Using lasers to trigger fusion could prove cheaper than other techniques". Highlights:"[The time has now come to use] lasers to bring about nuclear fusion, the great prize of energy research[, and EC is urged] to pay for the biggest laser-fusion project yet. Nuclear fusion is a compelling idea[: the sun/stars are proof of] the great energy produced[, and] lots of power could be produced using very little fuel. No greenhouse gases would be released, the fuel is abundant, the process is safe, and the waste... is far less noxious than [radioactive] fission. [But] after 50+ years' work.., no one has yet managed [thus] to produce useful energy. Idea of using lasers to trigger fusion [also] long. [Essential process:] Fuel will be made from two heavy forms of hydrogen: deuterium and tritium. Zap it from all sides simultaneously with lasers and... the pellet will implode and the hydrogen nuclei will fuse. They would form helium and a subatomic particle[: a neutron, which] would carry energy that could be converted into heat[, which ] could be used... to boil water and create steam that drives a turbine... Construction of world's main demonstration power plant [is now] under way[, c]alled International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor(ITER) [and] will cost some $5b to build, $5b to run for 20 years, and further $1b to decommission. Laser scientists want a slice of this action to build laboratory called 'HiPER', to run parallel with ITER. Price tag is relatively cheap: mere $1b. [A]pproach works like diesel engine by compressing fuel until it ignites. This calls for lasers to be very finely tuned and fuel pellet to be perfectly smooth, so implosion symmetrical and fusion occurs. Fast-ignition technique is more like a petrol engine: fuel is compressed and only then ignited by a second laser pulse... fired through a hole in pellet. Upshot is nuclear fusion can happen using rough-and-ready lasers/fuel. Fast ignition also takes less powerful lasers[, so] is more efficient, too... Because lasers can run for long distances, fuel does not have to be right next to lasers that generate them[, and] means can be easily shielded from damaging neutrons. Fuel pellets can also be placed in target site using conventional systems [- so] easily able to cope with the 5 mini-explosions/second needed to generate power".

The Economist 05 May 07"Japan's Foreign Policy: Abe Blows Japan's Trumpet, Cautiously"(53-4):-official sum:"Shinzo Abe wantsmore assertive foreign policy, but Japan's energy dependence is forcing it to be more pragmatic". Highlights:"[PM Abe wants] to emphasize Japan as a staunch democratic partner on NATO's eastern flank [and is] pushing once-passive Japan to pursue its own, more muscular course [as] it must compete with rising China and newly confident Russia for resources/power/prestige. [Yet its] army's WWII role in forcing women into military brothels [recently generated h]owls of international protest [and] forced PM into a sort-of apology[: see "Japan's Wartime History: Uncomfortable Truths"(54). Wshdc] approves Abe's fence-mending with neighbours... antagonised by past PM's provocative visits to Tokyo war shrine[, particularly since] US needs Chinese cooperation/leadership in dealing with North Korea [and to become]a 'responsible stakeholder' of the international system. Abe also welcomed for insisting that Japan should play... energetic role in [its US] alliance... With North Korea's missiles, US commitment to defend Japan against conventional and nuclear threats,.. reaffirming Japan protected by US nuclear umbrella, and deployment by Japan of two US-made anti-ballistic missile systems. Japan is keen to play a greater part in its own defence, [but] hampered by constitution. As things stand, Japan may not shoot down a North Korean missile headed for US, or come to aid of US ship... Collective self-defence underpins Abe's broader ambition [-] bigger role in international security[, and he has] proposed rewriting [constitution, perhaps pacifist clause]. Japan's great game is dressed up in values of humanitarianism/democracy/rule of law. Seeks closer ties with India.;. security alliance with Australia. FM speaks of 'arc of freedom and prosperity' from Japan through India/Mideast to Europe; China/Russia see as bid to contain them... Japan's [pragmatic] attempts to secure long-term oil supplies have gone awry [in Iran/Sakhalin/Saudi Arabia/Kuwait, but have partly succeeded in new deals with Saudi Arabia/Abu Dhabi]. Abe did propose a more active, 'multi-layered' relationship with [Mideast,] offering Japan as an honest broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict. His mixture of idealism and pragmatism... seems to be doing him some good".

The Economist 12 May 07"Global Warming in Africa: Drying Up and Flooding Out"(49-50):-official sum:"Rich countries may be largely to blame for adding climate change to Africa's litany of problems, but continent's own politicians have yet to take it seriously". Highlights:"If predictions of UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) hold true, climate change may have greater effect on Africa than on any other continent... IPCC's most recent report raises spectre of rising mortality: predicts minimum 2.5ºC increase in temperature in Africa by 2030; drylands bordering deserts may get drier, wetlands bordering rainforests may get wetter. [Article includes amazing map.] IPCC suggests supply of food in Africa will be 'severely compromised', with crop yields in danger of collapsing in some countries. In drylands, water may become critical issue: temps/rainfall may dry up surface water. Between 75m and 250m Africans, out of 800m now in sub-Saharan Africa, may be short of water [soil less moisture; bore-holes contaminated; women walking greater distances to fetch; vegetative cover recede; 600,000sqkm cultivable land ruined]. Warming may hurt animal habitats/biodiversity. More algae in freshwater lakes will hit fishing. [All] glaciers...may disappear. [L]ikely rise in sea levels may threaten coastal infrastructure of Egypt, Gambia, Gulf of Guinea, Senegal. Two caveats: (1) some parts of Africa may benefit: increased rainfall in highland areas in eastern Africa; (2) models [still] unreliable in Africa [so] detail is guesswork. [S]ome think climate change may be even crueller than IPCC predicts: important point is not the degree of warming but continent's vulnerability to it. [S]tudy: Africa might lose $25b in crop failure due to temps and another $4b from less rain, drylands suffering most... Few African leaders have grasped scale of challenge [and] African Union done little to sound alarm... Africa emits far less carbon than other continents, so its recently faster-growing economies not menace environment... Harder new varieties staple crops, drip irrigation schemes and technologies such as solar power should help Africa adapt to climate change. But so can simple shifts in policy... Most vital of all is cash -probably from rich countries- to pay for roads, schools, clinics, livestock management... G8 rich countries are failing to fulfil promises made in 2005 to boost aid to Africa... In the short run, Africa's own politicians need to take a lead".

The Economist 12 May 07"Climate Change: How to Cool the World"(64-5):-official sum:"A new report on state of the planet offers some grounds for optimism". Highlights: "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), set up by UN for global consensus on science/economics of climate change, on 04 May 07 published [its latest policy-identifying report, and argued] mankind has a good chance of averting [climate change] if it puts its mind to it. Some greenhouse-gas emissions, IPCC points out, can be cut at no cost at all - through straigtforward measures such as improving insulation and [replacing] wasteful incandescent light bulbs [- both saving money and reducing] carbon emissions. Such [policies] could make a difference, given that lighting accounts for 17% of global power consumption. In other areas, low-carbon technologies would be more expensive than conventional ones - but not necessarily exorbitant. In power generation, biggest single source of carbon, the cost of wind and solar power has fallen sharply... and is likely to fall further... Coal remains a big challenge [as relatively cheap and global. It] is the dirtiest fuel; but [if can bury the] CO2 emissions from coal under the earth's surface, on a large scale and at reasonable cost, it offers a quick fix... But cost of generating energy from fossil fuels will have to rise or the cost of generating energy from clean sources will have to fall, or both. Can be achieved by taxing carbon or subsidising clean energy, or both. Subsidies for clean energy are rising... The more important question, though, is whether the world is prepared to tax carbon... IPCC reckons a carbon price of $20-50 by 2020-30 is needed to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations at 550 parts per million. [I]t would, says IPCC, limit increase in temperature to 2.8-3.2ºC. To achieve this, [must] be applied globally. [US? Developing world?]"

The Economist 19 May 07"Trade and the Economy: America [i.e.US]'s Fear of China"(Edit.9-10):-official sum:"China is a far-from-cuddly beast; but bashing it is a bad idea"; "Briefing: China and US Trade: Lost in Translation"(73-5):-official sum:"If China sharply revalued the yuan, as US politicians are demanding, it could actually hurt US and help China". Highlights of Editorial:-"Itch to get tough with Beijing is urgent in US Congress[, with] bilateral trade surplus as proof... Most threatening proposals [include declaring] China's cheap currency an illegal subsidy and allow US firms to seek compensatory tariffs. Politics in Beijing is less open, but circumstances [there] are similarly unhelpful [: a]s with all dictatorships, there is the need to seem tough... Thankfully, an all-out trade war remains unlikely. [While]US...leaders inclined to act within [WTO rules,]some friction to be expected in a trading relationship... over $300b a year. [A]lthough today's tensions are not cause for panic, they are costly/unnecessary distraction -and potentially worse... To US voters, Chinese likely to become more prominent rivals... Most worrying,.. China is potentially a military competitor. Trade tensions could make it easier to see China as a rival and harder to enlist it as a partner. [A] stronger yuan would do little to dent US's trade deficit [see "Briefing:.."]. Bilateral trade imbalance... is an economic red herring. Its rise... less to do with value of the yuan than with Chinese saving and US profligacy. [A] stronger, more flexible yuan makes sense for China[, but] the effect on US would be small. [R]aising barriers to cheap Chinese imports would hit the wallets of poor/middle-income US consumers... By scaling back China-bashing,.. could avoid blunders[, leaving] room to engage Chinese on [what matters:] conclusion of [WTO] Doha round of global talks[;] avoiding war and conflict [North Korea, Iran, Taiwan;] China's expansion into Africa [particularly Sudan;] global warming [-] help China to green its economic growth". Other highly relevant items in this issue: "US Trade and Labour Standards: A Dubious Deal"(30); "Ideology in China: Confucius Makes a Comeback"(48); "China and Africa: The Host with the Most"(50); "Chinese Trains: Bullet Time"(70); "China's Stockmarkets: Feeding Frenzy"(78-9).

The Economist 19 May 07"Russia and the West: No Divide, No Rule"(Edit.12-3):-official sum:"A troubling new pipeline deal is a symbol of the West's inability to cope with Russia"; "Russia and the West: The Big Chill"(55-6):-official sum:"US/Europe confront new freeze in their relationship with Russia". Highlights of Editorial:"[M]ood has not been so icy since Soviet days. Russia says feels encircled by NATO expansion and proposed US missile defences, patronised on human rights and assailed by double standards. West finds Russia's pushy foreign policy, increasingly authoritarian manner and growing grip on its energy supplies alarming... [W]orst words have come from one side only[:] Putin seemed to liken US to Nazi... Idea Russia tricked/humiliated by mighty/well-organised Western camp led by power-hungry US is preposterous. Truth is Russia... currently outmanoeuvring a divided/indecisive West on almost every front - especially on energy. Putin [threatened] to exacerbate Europe's energy insecurity... Idea: hook up Europe to [Central Asian] gas reserves with new pipeline under Caspian Sea... Russia hardly blamed for maximising economic benefits of its energy riches/geography[, b]ut not mean Europe simply acquiesce... It should liberalise own energy industries, pay for better gas storage, build more interconnecting pipes/power lines, invest more in liquefied natural gas terminals... Most important, West must resist Russia's attempts to pick/choose among its customers... Centrepiece Russian policy is to strike bilateral deals... [Its] combination of ruthlessness, ambition and wealth is unique and scary. But it should not intimidat[e;] a bad deal with Kremlin is worse than no deal at all... Europe's dependence on Russia for gas/oil sure to continue, but need not be harmful... Way to bring more equality... is for Europe to stand united against Russian attempts to divide it". A key sentence from "...Big Chill":-"But the main reason for the rift is Russia's behaviour abroad and at home: its arms sales to Iran and Syria, its links with Myanmar, its political use of energy, its harassment of the opposition and NGOs, and its use of law as a repressive tool".

The Economist 26 May 07"The Canadian Arctic: Anxiously Watching a Different World"(35-8):-Arctic often identified as top area of planet receiving greatest/earliest climate change. While item focuses on vast Canadian territory north of 60◦N, general trends probably much relevance to global Arctic(Greenland/Nordic/Russia/Alaska). Official sum:"Climate and other changes draw new interest/misunderstandings[, but below skips info peculiar] to Canadian north". Highlights: "[Fully-north population has been] the Inuit[, long on ] inhospitable territory of treeless tundra, rock and ice... Two things now forcing... attention to north. First is climate change[:] ice melting at an alarming rate [and] has made access to minerals once locked in ice,.. unleashing an exploration boom. Second is people demanding/getting more of a say in their future[,] who have negotiated land claims giving them more control over development in a vast stretch of [land]. [T]he territorial governments [also] sought more powers. [N]ortherners becoming increasingly assertive, widening disagreements about issues ranging from environment to development and defence. There is no dispute Arctic is warming. Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the global average rate in last 100 years; 70,000sq/kms of sea ice is disappearing annually. [W]arming climate brings many problems for Inuit. Unpredictable sea ice can be fatal. Life is becoming more expensive: snowmobiles must take longer routes, buildings are weakened by melting permafrost. [Inuit] have little time for those who equate saving environment with animal rights. What really worries some[:] more shipping, mining, oil/gas exploration may threaten... Inuit's traditional life(hunting/fishing)... Others want development - but on their terms... Spending on mineral exploration almost tripled in past 5 years. Of 130 companies, 32 looking for uranium. Others seeking gold, diamonds, silver, zinc, nickel, copper, iron ore, sapphires[, b]ut not getting everything their own way... Nowadays, proposed developments must respect local culture and safeguard environment as well as generate jobs... Canada considers [Europe-East Asia] routes through its Arctic archipelago internal[, but] ice movement will keep Northwest Passage clogged for decades - Northeast Passage around Russia open to shipping since 91... Canada drawing up new policy document for the north[, but] is still disoriented by changes in its great white north". Another item on a special Canadian trend with global impact:"Canada's Oil Boom: Building On Sand"(72-3):-official sum:"Allure and perils of investing in Alberta's oil sands". Highlights: "Canada's oil sands... are outsized in every way. They contain 174 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered profitably, and another 141 billion that might be worth exploiting if the oil price rises or the costs of extraction decrease - enough to give Canada bigger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. [Now] attracting huge investment from oil giants[, b]ut also stirring great controversy... In most cases, extracting oil... consumes lots of energy, and so... oil price needs to remain above $40/barrel. [But with prices higher,] oil sands suddenly seem [cost] attractive,.. no exploration risk,.. steady flow for 30 years or more,.. all from moderate/stable country. [B]iggest uncertainty is over environment. Extracting oil from sands produces 2-3 times as much CO2 as pumping it out of a normal well... Investors... hope to [siphon] off emissions from their mines and [store] them underground - although technology is still in its infancy. Uncertainties... are big".

The Economist 02 Jun 07"The Environment: Cleaning Up"(Edit.13):-official sum:"How business is starting to tackle climate change. And how governments need to help"; "Special Report: Business and Climate Change"(1-30):-official sum:"Business is getting down to cutting carbon, but needs more incentives to make much difference to climate change, argues Emma Duncan"; "Global Warming: Struggling to Save the Planet"(63-4):-official sum:"A new US proposal on combating climate change will not defuse row over the issue in the run-up to the G8 summit"; "Global Warming: A Stairway to Heaven?" (87-8):-official sum:"Earth has a natural transport system standing ready to get rid of carbon dioxide. Here is how it might be turned on". Highlights of Editorial:-"Attitudes shifted sharply over past 6 years, most importantly among businesspeople. Until recently business tended to take dim view of idea climate was changing... [Now] falling over each other to prove their greenness.,. partly because politics of climate change moved so fast... But companies not driven purely by fear of regulation. Cleaner energy means new technologies and new money to be made. [N]eed to invest in technologies that will produce cleaner energy... Global investment in renewable power-generation, biofuels and low-carbon technologies rose from $28b in 2004 to $71b in 2006... Stock prices of clean-energy companies rocketing up... Oil firms, carmakers, power generators, nervous[ly] jacking up their investments in renewables/biofuels. As money [is put] into cleaner technologies, costs will fall. Price of a watt of solar photovoltaic capacity dropped from around $20 in 70s to $2.70 in 2004... Price of windpower fallen from $2 per kilowatt hour in 70s to 5-8 cents now, compared with 2-4 cents for coal-fired power. More investment will bring prices down further. [C]osts of switching from dirty energy to clean sort will fall... A sustained fall in oil price would undermine investment in costlier, cleaner technologies, [b]ut bigger risk is political... If governments do not act to curb emissions, those investments will eventually wither. Best way to encourage investment in cleaner energy is to make the polluter pay by putting a price on CO2 emissions. [UN's IPCC:] price of somewhere between $20 and $50 per tonne of CO2 by 2020-30 should start to stabilise CO2 concentrations at around 550 parts per million by end of century. A $50 price tag would raise petrol prices in US by around 15%, electricity by 35% - hardly draconian. Stabilising at 550ppm would knock around 0.1% off global economic growth/year. A carbon price can be either through tax [preferable] or a cap-and-trade system, such as Europe adopted [and has tightened]. It is US that matters, not just as world's biggest polluter, but also because without its participation, China and India not do anything... [I]nvestments will flourish only if governments are prepared to put a price on carbon. Costs of that are not huge. Costs of not doing so might be".

The Economist 09 Jun 07"Climate Change: Fresh Air"(46-7):-sum followed by several samedate/ related items. Official sum:"China/Australia unveil new policies on global warming". Highlights:-"Governments [fear imminent world's-worst] cloud of pollution from China. [T]o counter,] China unveiled new policy on global warming [but] argues rich countries responsible for most of greenhouse gases in atmosphere, and so should shoulder most of burden of reducing them... Moreover, China already trying to curb its emissions [with] commitment to generate 10% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010[: much] from hydroelectric; fifth-biggest user of wind turbines; biggest consumer of solar panels used to heat water. [N]uclear power should also help reduce China's emissions[:] building 4 new nuclear reactors[/ordered] another 4 - far more ambitious program than any other save Russia. Also has tougher standards for fuel efficiency than US [cars use 6.9 litres to travel 100km; next year 6.5 litres]. [China] also pointed to success in curbing growth in population [and that] reforestration had absorbed another 5b tonnes of CO2 over past 25 years, or just less than current annual emissions... All this supposed to help China reduce energy intensity by 20% 2005-10[; while only 1.2% 06,] did fall by over 4%/year 90-05. [Yet] thanks to galloping economic growth, emissions will continue to increase even if meets energy-intensity target. Australia's PM has changed course abruptly and announced will adopt cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases by 2012. TECHNOLOGY QUARTERLY(own 22-6):CASE HISTORY: "The Truth About Recycling" Environment:-Major essay is fascinating, but from China element:"Much recyclable material can be processed locally, but ever more is being shipped to developing nations, especially China. [It] has large appetite for raw materials, including scrap metals/waste paper/plastics, all of which can be cheaper than virgin materials. In most cases, these waste materials recycled into consumer goods or packaging and returned to Europe/US via container ships. With its hunger for resources and availability of cheap labour, China become largest importer of recyclable materials in the world. [B]y importing waste materials, recycling firms in developing countries able to build larger factories/achieve economies of scale, recycling materials more efficiently and at lower environmental cost... If done right, there is no doubt that recycling saves energy and raw materials, and reduces pollution. But as well as trying to recycle more, also important to try to recycle better". Related:"Face Value: Paper Queen"(76):-reports on industrial baron Cheung Yan. "Even within China, [her] Nine Dragons Paper is exceptional. It has grown from nothing into world's third most valuable paper company in 12 years; probably become single largest paper producer in middle of 08. [Firm] had become US's largest exporter of waste paper". For other reports on Economist"..: Fresh Air"China and Australia topics see:Associated Press "China Issues National Plan on Climate Change"04 Jun 07; Reuters"Global Warming Overheats Australian Politics"04 Jun 07; Jim Yardley & Andrew C.Revkin"China Issues Plan on Global Warming, Rejecting Mandatory Caps on Greenhouse Gases"New York Times 04 Jun 07; AP"China Expects Pollution to Improve Soon"NYT 06 Jun 07.

The Economist 09 Jun 07"TECHNOLOGY QUARTERLY"(own 34 pages):-all such items are listed by their full titles, plus their formal summaries/highlighted quotes, in RECENT DEVELOPMENTS. The 09 Jun 07 version, however, contains unusually important items relating to global warming threat, so two are stressed and more fully highlighted here."Getting Wind Farms Off the Ground" (3-4):-official sum:"Energy: "If people object to wind farms cluttering up the countryside, one answer might be to put them in the air instead". Highlights:-"[T]en kilometres up in the air... the jet-stream winds are stronger and blow more consistently than ground-level winds. [So] trying to invent a whole new technology for harvesting wind: electricity generators that fly. One of most ambitious.,. flying generator looks like a cross between a kite and a helicopter. It has four rotors at the points of an H-shaped frame tethered to ground by a long cable. [Might] produce power for as little as two cents per kWh [-] cheaper than the 3-5 cents conventional energy generation costs. [But:] flying generator difficult to build[;] limits to helpful existing helicopter technology[;] maintenance [challenge]. Exploiting jet stream represents the zenith[:] harvesting just 1% of its energy would produce enough power for everybody on planet. [E]ven at lower altitudes, winds are stronger than at surface. [Ano]ther inventor... has developed proposal for wind generator filled with helium[;] turns around a horizontal axis... like water mill; could fly at altitude of up to 1km. [Third] approach[:] launch a kite (without rotor blades) from ground station, turning a generator as it rises to several hundred metres. [Hope] to start testing full-scale device, which would generate 10 megawatts, within 5 years... Any promise of such cheap energy has to be treated with scepticism [but] perhaps it is time for wind-power industry to reach for the sky". "A Cool Concept"(4-6):-official sum:"Energy: Hydrothermal cooling is novel approach using cold water from lakes/oceans to run air-conditioning systems". Highlights:-"Using planet's natural coolness... could save money/reduce CO2 emissions... Toronto [has] very large supply in Lake Ontario [and] been pioneering idea that instead of using electricity to power air conditioning, useful supply of cold can be directly extracted from environment. Three large pipes have been run 5 kilometres into lake to a depth of 83 metres. Water at that depth is a constant 4ºC, its temperature protected by layer of water above it called thermocline. Water is piped to a filtration plant and then to a heat-transfer station [where] chill is 'transferred' to another closed loop consisting of smaller pipes that supply the towers of the city's financial district. Built at a cost of $200m... Some 36 buildings in central business district now been connected, and further 16 have signed to join system. Project is expected to reduce city's energy needs by 61 megawatts. Toronto's project is largest of its kind in world, and the only one that combines cooling with drinking water (15% of city drinking water). Other cities use similar cooling projects [Stockholm /Cornell Univ., while Geneva/Tokyo would be candidates.] Using cold water for air conditioning saves more than just energy[; buildings' roofs/floors/other space] can be used for other things".

The Economist 16 Jun 07"The RNA Revolution: Biology's Big Bang"(Edit.13):-official sum:"What physics was to the 20th century, biology will be to the 21st - and RNA will be a vital part of it". Highlights:-"For more than 50 years, fundamental story of living things has been tale of interplay between genes, in the form of DNA, and proteins, which the genes encode and which [keep] living organisms living. Past couple of years have seen rise of third type of molecule: RNA. [I]ts role had [earlier] seemed restricted to fetching/carrying for DNA/proteins. Now RNA looks every bit as important[:] it may be main regulator of what goes on in a cell i.e.operating system, as well as author of many other activities". See"Briefing: RNA: Really New Advances"(87-9):-"Molecular biology undergoing its biggest shake-up in 50 years, as hitherto little-regarded chemical called RNA acquires an unsuspected significance"; and "RNA-Based Drugs: Little Hopes"(88):-official sum:"New classes of drugs that exploit new RNAs are in development". Edit.cont'd: "Molecular biologists... barely a clue [yet of] what is going on [-] a sense of barely contained expectations [-] a feeling of advancing into... exciting/mysterious... unknown. [T]here is a good chance that... distinguishing feature of 21st century will be biological technology... Simple genetic engineering is now routine; indeed, the first patent application for an artificial living organism has recently been filed". See"Artificial Life: Patent Pending"(92-4):-"Craig Venter... 16 years ago attempted to patent parts of several hundred genes. [Now] he is proposing to patent not merely a few genes, but life itself[, eventually via] the synthetic bacterium[he's] been working on". Edit.cont'd:"The other driving force of technological change - necessity - is also there. Many big problems facing humanity are biological, or susceptible to biological intervention[:] how to deal with ageing population[;] climate change, intimately bound up with biology[;] risk of a new, lethal infection suddenly [biological] pandemic as result of modern transport". See"The World Health Organization: Preventing Pandemics"(67-8):-official sum:"The new powers vested in [WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan] should, in theory, cut the risk of killer diseases raging round the world". Edit.cont'd:"Biology more than describes humanity's place in universe. It describes humanity itself, and... RNA may be an important part of that... Traditional genes not as important as proponents of human nature had suspected, nor as proponents of nurture feared. Instead, solution seems to lie in RNA operating system of the cells. This gets bigger with each advance in complexity, and noticeably different in a human from that in brain of a chimpanzee. If RNA is controlling the complexity of the whole organism, suggests operating system of each cell is not only running cell in question, but linking up with those of other cells when creature developing. Organs such as the brain are the result of a biological internet, [and] the search for the essence of humanity has been looking in the wrong genetic direction. [E]ventually, the truth will out".

The Economist 16 Jun 07"Air Travel: Trouble in the Control Tower"(Edit.14):-official sum:"It would be surprisingly easy for governments to make flying more enjoyable and cleaner"; "Special Report on Air Travel: Fear of Flying"(1-20):-initial sum:"Air travel is often nasty, brutish, long and unprofitable. But it need not be like that, says Paul Markillie". While both conclude on how/why airlines should become more competitive, following highlights stress 3"global" airline-related issues: terrorism, climate change, pandemics. They exist/grow because: "In 2006 people took over 2 billion journeys on scheduled airlines worldwide, 4% up on 2005 according to [UN's] International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO)... By 2010 another 500m... likely to join[,greatest markets being Asia and Europe]. Terrorism: "Watch That Twitch"(SR 14):-official sum:"How airport security identifies suspicious characters". Highlights:"Intelligence to prevent attacks is part of what experts call'layered' security approach [since 11 Sep 01 crises]. Other layers include checking identities, scanning people and their luggage, searching them at random, see how they behave... Eventually analysis/interpretation of passengers' behaviour will be aided by machines... New biometric passports, which contain details such a finger prints and iris scans, will also improve identification. [As] threats change, will take a combination of S&T... to reduce the hassle involved in passing through airports. That may make them safer, too". Climate Change: "Travelling Green Tonight"(SR 16-9):-Highlights:"Every new aircraft improves on the generation before it, thanks to a combination of new engines, better materials and more efficient flight systems/aerodynamics... Incremental improvements add up[:] even a 1% saving can represent hundreds of tonnes of fuel/year, and a similar reduction in emissions... Every tonne of fuel burnt by a jet aeroplane produces 3.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide(CO2) [and] aviation is responsible for some 2-3% of total man-made CO2 emissions... This figure is expected to rise rapidly[:] CO2 emissions from aircraft could more than triple by 2050, making flying one of the fastest-growing producers of greenhouse gas... Other emissions by aircraft -such as nitrogen oxides(NOX), soot, water vapour- might double the warming effects of the CO2... ICAO has drawn up guidelines for a global emissions-trading scheme which are due to be considered later 2007. [Yet] aircraft have already become a lot more efficient/cleaner... Flying given passengers/distance takes less than 70% of the fuel it would have done 40 years ago... Most obvious difference is that [jet engines] have become bigger to accomodate larger fans. These move a larger volume of air more slowly but more efficiently/less noisily [and] also produce a lot less smoke/soot. [One engine] produces 40% less NOX than previous engines... New designs... could provide a huge fuel saving, perhaps 15%. Alternative fuels [include] biofuels blended with jet fuel. Fuel cells[, while] still long way from growing up into airliner[, can sooner be used for non-flight power]... Around 15-20% of fuel savings [by 2020]would come from new engines and a similar amount from new aircraft designs. Remaining 10-15% would be achieved by operating aircraft in a more economical way". "Climate Change: Emissionary Positions"(38):-this article describes the changed/changing views of US Congress and White House. Complex differences MAY affect/effect basic transportation policies. "The World Health Organization: Preventing Pandemics"(67-8):-is separately flagged for report on "new powers vested in [WHO to] cut the risk of killer diseases raging round the world". While subject is a serious one already, the article makes only indirect/brief references to the fact that huge scale/speed of global aviation now is what makes pandemics a massive and rapid threat.

The Economist 30 Jun 07"United States Power: Still No.1"(Edit.11-2); "Briefing: US Power: The Hobbled Hegemon"(29-32):-Editorial's official sum:"Wounded, tetchy and less effective than it should be, US is still the power that counts". Briefing's official sum:"Its troubles in Iraq have much weakened it; but US is likely to remain the dominant superpower". Inevitably very selective highlights from the substantial/complex Editorial: "[F]or a growing [US] number, superpower's inability to impose its will on [Iraq] is symptomatic of a deeper malaise... Nearly six years after 11 Sep 01, nervousness about state of US's 'hard power' is growing [refs. made to Briefing, then to the huge US army weight of Iraq and Afghanistan]. Other demons are jangling US nerves [China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Europe, Arabs, Chavez]. Nor is it just a matter of geopolitics [Wall Street, borders, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, climate change, Palestinians]. A sense of waning power is not just bad for US self-esteem. It is already having dangerous consequences ['China-bashing', isolationism]. Outside US, consequences could be even graver [Islamic revolutionaries, Putin, Western alliance]. Yet US being underestimated. Friends and enemies have mistaken short-term failure of Bush admin for deeper weakness. Neither US hard nor soft power fading. Rather, not being used as well as could be. The opportunity is greater than the threat. [But] while [US] talk was loud, the stick was spindly. [I]t is hard to imagine any future US admins making such [Bush regime] howlers when it comes to regime change. Yet in one way Bush is unfairly maligned... US did not enjoy untrammelled influence abroad before he arrived [Vietnam, Iran, North Korea, France]. [Superpower's relative]strength lies as much in what it can prevent... as in what it can achieve. Even today, US's 'negative power' is considerable [Iran, North Korea, global warming, Arab-Israeli peace] - US is quite simply indispensable [since] still has the most hard power... Better diplomacy would enhance its power [- and] al-Qaeda is still small beer. [W]in the battle for hearts and minds and you do not need as much hard power to get your way. [This applies to China. US is] an undervalued market leader, in need of new management... More than any rival, US corrects itself... Bush has already rediscovered some of the charms of multilateralism; he is talking about climate change[; and] a Mideast peace initiative is possible. [E]lection offers a chance for renewal[, and US] will bounce back stronger again".

The Economist 30 Jun 07"Chinese Politics: Democracy? Hu Needs It"(47-8):-official sum:"Ahead of its congress later this year, the Chinese Communist Party is tolerating a surprisingly wide-ranging debate about political reform". Highlights:"Hu Jintao, president/party chief, [in recent speech] acknowledged growing public demand for a say in politics. Efforts to reform... system, he said, should match these aspirations. [Recently] he has tolerated an unusually open debate about country's political options. Calls for multiparty democracy remain taboo, but not much else... Speech set clear boundaries. Party's leadership must be upheld; reform must adhere to 'current political orientation' [i.e.] no Western-style parliamentary democracy or balance of power between executive/legislature/judiciary. But... he faces some pressure to set a clearer agenda - in an 'orderly' way. [L]iberal intellectuals in China see room for big changes[, though] party press does not usually harp on merits of democracy. [I]n party-speak [it] has a quite different meaning from [that of] Westerners[ and] does not mean allowing organised opposition. [Last] Feb, liberal-leaning monthly journal... published article... singing the praises of Sweden's Social Democratic Party as a model[, and] warned that [Chinese party] could be destroyed... if it failed to reform politically. [A]rticle touched a raw nerve [and] debate has not stopped. [J]ournal by Ministry of Finance [offered] unusually detailed proposal for political change [which] could be carried out over next 20 years. [Though] careful to stress the need to maintain party's monopoly on power.,. its suggestions would transform China's politics. [R]esearchers also called for sweeping cuts in bureaucracy[, and] in a recent shuffle of provincial/lower-level party leaderships, tens of thousands at level of deputy party-secretary eliminated. Other ideas less palatable. Researchers suggested develop NGOs[,] but officials fear might turn into opposition groups. Researchers proposed proper election campaigns for seats in national legislature[, which] should be slimmed to about 15% of its current size [-] and allowed to engage in real debate. If Hu does have any plans for political change, unlikely to make them public before he has sealed his grip on power at party congress... If party is sincere about democracy, many academics say it should begin by encouraging it within its own ranks... If Hu wants democracy, he wants it... not yet". Closely related to the above are same issue's "Hong Kong: One Country, No Democracy"(Edit.12):-official sum:"If only Hong Kong were allowed to show China the way politically as it has economically";and"Special Report: Hong Kong:The Resilience of Freedom"(1-14 special pages):-official sum:"After ten years of Chinese sovereignty, Hong Kong's economy is thriving. But politics, says Simon Long, remains a one-horse race".

The Economist 07 Jul 07"Global Poverty: Are We Nearly There Yet?"(Edit.12-3); "Briefing: Millennium Development Goals: The Eight Commandments"(25-8):-Editorial's official sum:"Mid-way through, the UN's drive against poverty remains half crusade and half charade". Highlights: "[To halve compelling targets] by 2015 is a measurable commitment[:] Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) struggles against global deprivation, disease and illiteracy, set by the world's leaders at United Nations in 2000. The goals claim to convert campaign slogans into bankable pledges, with number and date. World has resolved to cut (eg): rate at which mothers die from child-birth by 75%; people without safe water by 50%; infant mortality by 33%. UN declared 07 Jul 07 official halfway point. The 2000 summit was unprecedented by attraction; [b]ut many of the targets were a bit old hat... In fact, they have remained surprisingly conspicuous, a secular scripture for the aid fraternity. UN cherishes them, [b]ut goals also converted organisation's rivals(eg): World Bank/WTO/IMF. [Hence]MDGs can justly claim to generate...duties governments might otherwise neglect[:] international recognition for politicians who make progress. [Yet] targets do not fit any country in particular [China vs Sub-Saharan Africa]... Some goals cannot be met; others not even measured[:] no reliable numbers on deaths from malaria or childbirth, although goals generate better figures... Some MDG zealots think responsibility for achievement clear-cut. They work out what needs to be done, add up the costs, then demand the rich foot the bill... But foreign cash does not always produce results; some results do not require much money... Social progress envisaged in the targets requires the kind of nationwide nannying that only an accountable domestic government can sustain(see Briefing). Can MDG exercise be salvaged?.. Millennium secured global agreement on what matters. But impoverished countries must start where they are; aid money cannot bridge the gap. But nor should lack of foreign cash stop countries inching their way out of poverty by their own efforts - only way ever done it".

The Economist 28 Jul 07"Demography: How To Deal With a Falling Population"(Edit.11)"Worries about population explosion have been replaced by fears of decline".[Editorial's official sum, like most of items' arguments, takes on mainly capitalist issues in some rich states, and does not admit to ignoring the most serious population-related problems of world as a whole. Wikipedia's objective "World Population", for instance, states 2006 CIA World Factbook reports "27.4% of the world's population is below 15 years of age"]; "Briefing: Japan‛s Changing Demography: Cloud, Or Silver Linings"(24-6)"Japan's population is ageing fast and shrinking. That has implications for every institution, and may even decide fate of governments"; "Reform in Italy: La Dolce Pensione"(52)"How old politicians are failing to deal with the ageing crisis"; "Demography and Fertility: In Vitro Veritas"(82-3)"If country wants to keep its population up, it should promote IVF";"Fertility Treatment: Made, Not Begotten"(85-6)[Reviews:Beth Kohl Embryo Culture: Making Babies in the Twenty-First Century; Liza Mundy Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Conception is Changing Men, Women, and the World]:-all relate to current population issues (each title followed by official sum). Editorial's highlights:"For thousands of years, the number of people in the world inched up. Then there was a sudden spirt during the industrial revolution which produced 1900-2000 a near-quadrupling of world's population. Numbers are still growing; but recently... an inflection point seems to have been reached: rate of population increase began to slow... Last year UN said it thought world's average fertility would fall below replacement by 2025. Demographers expect global population to peak at around 10 billion (it is now 6.5 billion) by mid-century... Some [feel] there are obviously too many people on the planet [although short-term food/material potentials are not globally scarce]. Certainly, the impact that people have on the climate is a problem; but the [immediate] solution lies in consuming less fossil fuel [etc], not in manipulating population levels. Nor does the opposite problem - that the population will fall so fast/far that civilisation is threatened - seem a real danger. Projections suggest a flattening off and then a slight decline in foreseeable future. If world's population does not look like rising or shrinking to unmanageable levels, [a]djusting to decline poses problems... States should not be in the business of pushing people to have babies... But transition to a lower population can be a difficult one, and up to governments to ease it. [Most ways] involve social changes that are desirable in themselves. Best way to ease transition toward smaller population would be to encourage people to work for longer, and remove barriers that prevent them. State pension ages need raising. Mandatory retirement ages need to go... Salary structures in which pay rises with seniority... should be replaced with more flexible ones... Policies to encourage women into workplace - better provisions for child care/parental leave, can also help redress the balance between workers and retirees... As traditional societies modernise, fertility falls the most[,but] in societies which make breeding and working compatible,... women tend to do both".

The Economist 04 Aug 07"Energy in Germany: Nuclear Fallout"(43-4):-"Until recently,.. climate change convinced many that carbon emissions might be a bigger danger than nuclear accidents or radioactive waste... But at end of Jun, two separate accidents at nuclear plants... set back the pro-nuclear lobby once again. The mishaps... posed little threat [but] public support for the nuclear phase-out climbed back over 50%. Chancellor Merkel... is a strong campaigner against climate change and wants Germany [by] 2020 to emit 40% less greenhouse gas than in 1990, exceeding ambitious 30% reduction set by EU. But her 'grand coalition' is divided over how to do it[, and] Germany's decision watched closely elsewhere in Europe, where similar debates taking place. France['s] nuclear power provides nearly 80% of its electricity. Italy has given up nuclear power but has interests in foreign nuclear plants. Sweden voted to phase it out by 2010 but is having second thoughts. Finland sees nuclear power as attractive alternative to fossil fuels, while Britain is thinking of building new nuclear plants... Seeking to boost Germany's energy efficiency by 3% a year, it proposes offering tax incentives [and] to tweak subsidies for renewable energy[:] solar energy would get less, while offshore wind power would get more. [But] the efficiency target looks unrealistic... Gas is relatively clean but expensive, and main supplier, Russia, has alarmed Europe by periodically choking off oil and gas... Great temptation is coal, which is cheap, abundant in Germany, [but] at least until carbon-storage technology is ready, bad for global warming... Around 40 coal-fired generators are being planned, most of them with no provision for capturing carbon emissions. But the incentives may change". A directly- related article is: "Emissions Trading: Lightly Carbonated"(53-4):-official sum:"European companies are not yet taking full advantage of carbon markets". Key paragraph: "In theory, cap-and-trade schemes allow firms to reduce their emissions at the lowest possible cost. Governments put a limit on the amount firms can pollute, and issue an equivalent number of allowances. Those companies that find they do not have enough must either cut emissions or buy spare allowances from others. But for the system to work efficiently, firms must take advantage of all opportunities to reduce the costs of participation. Not all of them do, however".

The Economist 18 Aug 07"Electricity in Africa: The Dark Continent"(39):-official sum:"Power shortages have become one of the biggest brakes on development". Highlights:"Africa accounts for over a sixth of world's population, but generates only 4% of global electricity. [M]ost attempts at electrification in 70s/80s failed... World Bank reckons 500m sub-Saharan Africans are without 'modern energy'. Situation bound to get worse as demand for power continues to grow. Africa's relatively healthy economic growth of recent years begets factories/shopping centres -and power cuts galore... Even the poorest rural migrants, once in city, prize electric lighting, and millions are leaving villages... Continent remains largely dependent on hydropower: 13 countries use it for 60%+of their energy. But... dams often operate below capacity. Still, many new dams planned ...River with the biggest hydro potential is Congo... Only 6% Congolese have access to electricity ...A great project to build a series of dams along Congo's fast-flowing stretches could theoretically supply 39,000MW, enough to power entire continent - but probably a dream... Many African governments looking at alternative sources of energy. Hydropower is clean,.. but most of the easy alternatives, notably coal, are dirty... Some fossil fuels, however, are less damaging. Pipeline planned for west Africa, to carry gas now flared off in oil fields, could stabilise electricity supply in coastal cities. Few Africans in rural areas have access to electricity. World Bank's 'Lighting Africa' is ambitious effort to get 250m poorest Africans on clean-energy lighting by 2030. Talk of mass production of biofuels is premature... Effort to tap geothermal energy... Use steady winds in Africa's mountain ranges. If costs of sun's warmth reduced 30%, vast solar farms could offer cheap, clean energy... Other remedies for power shortages: more efficient appliances, more deregulation, better use of existing resources, pool power into regional grids". Another huge but also power-related challenge: "Brazil's Energy Policy: Scarcity in the Midst of Surplus"(31-2):-"Blessed with sunshine, watered by huge rivers and close to self-sufficiency in oil, Brazil's energy potential is indeed enormous. But for various reasons,.. it runs a serious risk of energy shortages at home... Four-fifths of electricity comes from hydroelectric dams, but at times... hydropower needs topping up with thermal supplies, mostly natural gas... Government's hopes are pinned on two big projects, both of which have critics. Recently gave go-ahead for a third nuclear reactor[, and] environmental agency given approval for two new dams on Madeira river... Another possibility is to generate electricity from sugar cane, in conjunction with ethanol production, though technology for this is still fairly new. But ramping up ethanol production has drawbacks... Environmentalists argue that Brazil could do much more to conserve energy - but long-term effort. Country faces difficult trade-offs between development and the environment".

The Economist 18 Aug 07"The Arctic: Drawing Lines in Melting Ice"(51-2); "Inuit Politics: Save Our Spears"(52):-"..Arctic" official sum:"Despite the ungainly scamble for a slice of the Arctic's tantalising riches, no nation can master the region alone". Highlights: "[All the very recent] Arctic travellers [- Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Sweden, US -] insisted that their plans had been made ages ago and that coincidence of so many polar expeditions was purely haphazard. [But] unseemly dash to claim great chunks of the Arctic - the sea, the ice, and whatever lies underneath - is precisely that. [B]oom in energy/commodity prices has changed economics of searches for oil/gas/minerals. Steady shrinkage of polar ice-caps, as result of global warming, is making previously inaccessible deposits much easier to get at - and helping to open some formerly icebound shipping lanes. [C]urrent dash to Arctic [has] to do with establishment of legal arguments, which have to be shored up by scientific data. All parties with a claim to a slice of Arctic are intensely conscious of the terms of 1982 UN Convention on Law of the Sea[LOS], which supposed to regulate almost all human uses of high seas, from fishing to mining. Under LOS, governments can lay claim to economic zone up to 200 nautical miles(370km) from coast - or further, if can prove area in question is extension of their own continental shelf. [Arguments] could keep lawyers/geographers busy[, but] any country that wants to make a claim under LOS must do so within a decade of ratifying it [Russia 09, Canada 13, Denmark/Greenland 14.] US respects LOS in practice[/no ratification; but its domestic] objections may soon be overcome... An oft-quoted figure [gives] region 25% of world's undiscovered oil and gas[;] Arctic nations doing survey now, and clearer picture may soon emerge. At least in short term, government activity in Arctic has more to do with transport routes than with under-sea riches. [A] complete opening of Northwest Passage [through the Canadian archipelago could] shave 2,500 miles off a journey from Europe to Asia[;] assessment of global warming's impact on shipping [complete] next year. [G]overnments/scientists still cooperate over Arctic; often there is no choice... For time being, fact that no nation can conquer Arctic on its own is probably a source of relief. At a moment when nationalistic claims/counterclaims are resounding over ice-floes, region's intractability still forces would-be conquerors to rub along".

The Economist 08 Sep 07"Energy: Nuclear Power's New Age"(Edit.13); "Briefing: Nuclear Power: Atomic Renaissance"(71-3); Technology Quarterly [all essays' titles/official sums in TQ chapter]: "Nuclear Dawn"Energy(TQ 24-6); BRAIN SCAN:"Jolly Green Heretic" Stewart Brand(TQ 33-4):-Edit's official sum:"Nuclear revival welcome so long as industry not repeat its old mistakes". Highlights:"For two decades neither governments nor bankers wanted to touch it. Now nuclear power has second chance...Managed properly, nuclear revival could be good thing. But industry/ governments keen to promote it look like repeating some of mistakes that gave bad name in the first place. Geopolitics, technology(see TQ), economics, environment all changing in nuclear power's favour. [M]ost of world's oil/gas is in hands of hostile/shaky governments[;] uranium is conveniently located in friendly... Simpler designs cut maintenance/repair costs. Shutdowns now far less frequent... New 'passive safety' features can shut reactor down in an emergency without need for human intervention. Handling waste may get easier. US plans... most radioactive portion of waste from conventional nuclear power is isolated/burned in 'fast' reactors. Technology has thus improved nuclear's economics. So has squeeze on fossil fuels. Nuclear power stations hugely expensive to build but very cheap to run. Gas-fired stations... reverse [and have] made existing nuclear plants tremendously profitable. Latest boost to nuclear came from climate change. Nuclear... baseload electricity is cleaner than coal, more secure than gas and more reliable than wind... Some environmentalists retain their antipathy to [nuclear], but green gurus [eg Stewart Brand] have changed their minds. Public opinion [also] seems to be coming round. Yet economics of nuclear still look uncertain[,] partly because its green virtues do not show up in its costs [and it] combines huge fixed costs with political risk. [So] investors remain nervous. [T]o lard industry with money is wrong answer. Nuclear/other clean energy deserve a hand from governments - but through a carbon tax which reflects benefits of clean energy, not through subsidies. [Maybe] fears of nuclear power overblown[, yet] nuclear waste is difficult to dispose. More civil nuclear around world increases chance of weapons proliferation. Terrorists could attack plants or steal nuclear fuel. [G]overnments/industry [must minimize] those risks. [Nuclear] needs to persuade clean/cheap/safe enough to rely on without a government crutch".

The Economist 10 Nov 07"Technology in Asia: Howling at the Moon"(Edit.16); "Special Report on Technology in India and China: High-Tech Hopefuls"(Unique 1-22):-Official sums:"US should keep its cool about technological threat posed by China and India";"China and India have much to offer the world of technology, argues Simon Cox, but more still to gain from it". Editorial's highlights:"China's technological enthusiasm is matched by that of India. As Special Report shows, both believe can succeed in high-tech markets that US, Europe, Japan long regarded as theirs by right. [Western] policymakers/industry groups quake at number of scientists/engineers the two populous Asians turn out[,] squeal about the imitation of ideas, both real/alleged, and lament emigration of jobs... So much for fears. Facts suggest altogether cosier accomodation between aspirants/incumbents. Japan/West invent stuff and market it; emerging Asia makes stuff, customises, services it. [A]lthough China/India have much to offer world of technology, they have more still to gain from it [- and their] ascent much less scary than that of Japan/South Korea. China/India see foreign firms as clients/investors, not just rivals[, and eye their] big and relatively open markets as source of customers as well as competition... Technological creativity is rooted in a country's institutions as well as its people's ingenuity. [A] society must [just] reward innovation without stifling diffusion/collaboration; China/India yet to show they can crack that problem".Special Report highlights:"After 15th century, [globally dominant] technological clock stopped in both countries, even as it accelerated in Europe... That diffidence no longer hampers either state. Both China/India are now restless with technological ambition. China's government does not have the luxury of choosing between progress/stability; it cannot enjoy social peace without economic advance... By 2015 its research scientists/engineers may outnumber those of any other country. By 2020 it aims to spend a bigger share of GDP on R&D than EU. India surveys the future with uncharacteristic optimism. Its technological confidence has grown immeasurably thanks to the success of its software and IT firms... But even as India's tech-powers make splash in world, they stir only surface of its own vast society. [It] produces more engineering graduates than US[, but] has only 24 personal computers for every 1,000 people... This is a pity. India/China still have more to gain from adoption/assimilation technology than from invention per se. [B]ut more urgent task for countries is to make wider use of know-how that already exists... Both miss out when policies to promote invention... serve to stymie diffusion". After above sum, other sums clearer than essay titles: "Economies of India/China are not as sophisticated as they appear"."Few Indian firms are creating drugs, rather than recreating them". "Invention is costly and frustrating work. India/China have better things to do". "China's leaders want own technology titans. But China's true national champion is its big market". "A new way of mixing existing technologies is also innovation". "Where the venturesome find their consumers"."Old-school retailing in high-tech[Chinese]business"."Chatty Indianshave embraced mobile phone,but many still shrug at PC". Highlights from final essay:"Splendid Miscegenation: Something Borrowed, Something True"(21-2):"India now host to R&D centres for over 100 multinational firms...China does even better: over 750 centres...Thanks to China/India, innovation has undergone a process of division/separation[ - with] worries US technological pretensions will be cut... by growth of Asia's scientific workforce... India's traditional fear of multinationals has eased in recent years. Now China more than India is prey to 'techno-nationalists'... Indian/ Chinese firms have comparative advantage in finding new uses for existing technologies, and combining them in novel ways. [N]ow that R&D is globalised,.. knowledge can circulate between countries. [S]o developing countries must mix imported knowledge with ideas of their own before they can truly assimilate them.. But states should not fancy that technology can be owned from bottom to top, or that innovation can be accomodated by decree". Unlock Wikipedia??

The Economist 17 Nov 07"Climate Change: Green Protectionism"(Edit.14)-official sum:"A dangerous flaw in a [draft US] bill to control carbon emissions"; "Global Warming: Getting the Message, At Last"(35-6)-official sum:"[US] Congress now taking climate change fairly seriously"; "Cap-and-Trade in the [US] North-East: Embracing [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative]Reggie" (36):- Editorial's highlights:"[T]he only way to avert dangerous climate change is to set a price on CO2 emissions, [so] what's going on in US Congress is excellent news. A bill to set such a price has achieved a remarkable degree of cross-party support [details p35]. US emissions controls are essential to tackling climate change globally[, so] it is especially unfortunate that the bill includes a provision that would turn the fight against climate change into a tool for protectionists. [Numbers/variety of US groups now support action against global warming, b]ut energy-intensive manufacturers and organised labour fear the effects of higher energy costs in US, and their impact on jobs. Main purpose of bill is to establish carbon price through a cap-and-trade system. The proposal is a reasonable one[, but also includes] a border tax on carbon-intensive goods [to meet US firm/labour concerns]. Yet not clear that, in long run, environmental regulation does much to suppress economic growth. [Further,] China/India might well come more swiftly to the negotiating table if they faced the possibility of losing their export markets[, b]ut US/Europe experience suggests threatening trade sanctions is not the only way to bring a country round... What's more, the costs of a border tax could be huge, not just because of the massive bureaucracy needed to certify the carbon content of different goods imported from different countries, but also because such a tax would be a dangerous weapon in the hands of growing US gang of protectionists[ - and risks] a global trade war". Issue also contains three other important articles on critical/global fossil fuel developments:"Brazil: All This and Oil Too"(43)-key sentences: "Brazil is already on its way to becoming an alternative-energy superpower[, a]nd...it now seems that there are billions more barrels of oil than previously thought lying beneath deep waters off the country's coastline"; "Coal Power: Still Going Strong" (71-2)-official sum:"Efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions have yet to dent enthusiasm for coal"; "Economics Focus: Oil and the Economy [or] Shock Treatment"(92)-official sum:"Why the economy has absorbed high oil prices fairly easily, and why it may no longer".

The Economist 01 Dec 07"Climate Change: Struggling to Decode Bali's Message"(73-4):-off.sum:"A green jamboree in Indonesia will not achieve anything tangible, but it matters". Highlights:"[M]eeting of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is big deal[, with] 15,000-20,000 politicians, officials, activists, journalists... Numbers into Bali... demonstrate political profile of climate change has risen over past year. [Issue:] how the world should try to mitigate climate change when Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012 - is critical. Omens good[:] Australian new PM has promised to reverse his predecessor's policy and ratify Kyoto... Expectations low[:] happy if they manage to stop US, OPEC or developing countries creating serious roadblocks. Bali... aimed at hardest part of climate-change mitigation[:] agreement which all big emitters ratify [- and] won't happen until US adopts serious domestic emissions-control measures. So what happens at Bali matters. [T]hings by which to judge whether Bali success or failure. First[:] long-term commitment by all 192 signatories of UNFCCC to deal with problem, involving some goal, such as temperature/emissions cuts/atmospheric carbon concentrations. Second[:] further commitments by developing countries to cut their emissions. [As] current US administration continues to oppose binding targets, such promises will have to come from other rich countries. Third[:] developing countries not going to commit themselves to cuts[, but] activists hope China and India... may throw US a bone[:] if big developing countries agree to look into cutting emissions from particular sectors... rather than from their economies as a whole, US likelier to commit itself to emissions controls... One area break new ground: deforestation... Developing countries have no incentive to stop cutting down their forests, and tropical deforestation accounts for 20% of total annual greenhouse-gas emissions. So... group lobbying to get paid for not cutting down their green canopies. [I]nitiative has met plenty of opposition[, but Brazil's position] moderated. [B]est that can be expected [in Bali] is commitment to look into creating incentives to discourage countries from chopping down their tropical forests"."The Kyoto Protocol: Making a Clever Deal" (74):-off.sum:"Needed: new way to get Kyoto bargain to work". Highlights:"Clean Development Mechanism(CDM)[in protocol:] projects that cut or prevent emissions of greenhouse gases in poor countries earn credits, which can be bought by rich in lieu of curbing own emissions. China now leads in using CDM... Next stage, CDM... allows similar projects grouped together for approval. [Other] projects being studied as model for future approach to CDM". "Religion and the Environment [in US]: A Cross of Green"(38):off.sum:"The continuing rise of creation care". Highlights:"In contrast to 1997, when religious right led denunciations of... Kyoto, many of today's evangelicals want US to be generous/constructive... According to poll Oct 07, two-thirds of evangelicals want immediate action on global warming".

The Economist 08 Dec 07"Food Prices: The End of Cheap Food"(Edit.11-2):-off.sum:"Rising food prices are a threat to many; they also present the world with enormous opportunity". Highlights: [T]his year's price rise[:] extraordinary. Since spring, wheat prices have doubled and almost every crop... is at or near a peak in nominal terms... Even in real terms, prices have jumped 75% since 2005 [and] dearer food is likely to persist for years. [Full description of origin/effects of event is flagged:"Briefing: Food Prices: Cheap No More"(81-3):-off.sum:"Rising incomes in Asia and ethanol subsidies in US have put an end to a long era of falling food prices".] Because 'agflation' is under-pinned by long-running changes in diet accompanying wealth of emerging economies - Chinese [increase in meat] pushes up demand for grain. [A]lso, self-inflicted result of US reckless ethanol subsidies...will take 1/3 of US (record) maize harvest[, even] as farmers switch to [corn] from other crops... Dearer food has capacity to do enormous good and harm[:] hurt urban consumers, especially in poor countries[;] benefit farmers...by increasing rewards of their labour; in many poor rural places boost most important source jobs/economic growth. [B]alance between good and ill also depends in part on governments... If they get policy right, can help increase wealth poorest nations, aid rural poor, rescue farming from subsidies/neglect - and minimize the harm to the slum-dwellers and landless labourers. [W]orld seems to have only one [food policy] solution: government intervention. Most subsidies/trade barriers have come at a huge cost... and world prices that wreck the lives of poor farmers in the emerging markets... Dearer food is chance to break this dizzying cycle[:] reduce subsidies without hurting incomes... Cutting rich-world subsidies/trade barriers would help taxpayers; it could raise the stalled Doha round of world trade talks, boosting the world; and, most important, directly help many of world's poor. Hard to think of a greater good. 75% world's poor live in rural areas. The depressed world prices created by farm policies over the past few decades have had a devastating effect... Poor countries that used to export food now import it. Reducing subsidies in West would help reverse this... However, an obvious catch justifies government help. High prices... hurt anyone who loses more from dear food than he gains from a higher income[, so] governments in emerging markets have no alternative but to try to soften the blow... If handled properly, dearer food is a once-in-a-generation chance to narrow income disparities and to wean rich farmers from subsidies and help poor ones. The ultimate reward: make the world richer and fairer".

The Economist 22 Dec 07"Global Warming: Some Like It Cool"(Edit.10):-off.sum:"Glacial pace of global negotiations on climate change argues in favour of local, sectoral regulations". Highlights:"[In] final hours of Bali conference [for its aims see: "Climate Change: Struggling to Decode..." 01 Dec 07,] tension mounted between US and its allies on the one hand, and Europe and its allies on the other. Deadline for agreement had to be extended. UNSG Ban Ki-moon begged for compromise; one of US delegates... was booed; exsec of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and boss of conference wept and had to be helped off-stage. Situation was deadlocked; the planet doomed. [Then] a delegate from [dangerously threatened] Papua New Guinea [announced:] 'If for some reason you [US] are not willing to lead,.. leave it to the rest of us. Please - get out of the way'. Applause was thunderous[, and US agreed to join consensus.] There were sighs of relief and gasps of elation. Planet was saved. It was, everybody agreed, an historic agreement. Sadly, substance did not remotely match storyline. Only real achievement was decision to set up a pilot project to investigate how to stop tropical deforestation. [Editorial then draws attention to "Climate Change and Forests: So Hard to See the Wood for the Trees" (101):-off.sum:"Good news, but no certainty of salvation, for forests and their friends".] Aside from that, conference... cost a great deal... and produced nothing but a vapid statement of good intentions, from which US ensured all substance was removed. An international agreement to replace Kyoto protocol [by 2012] needs to be reached. But negotiations nowhere until 2009, when this US administration will probably make way for one that takes climate change seriously. This glacial pace towards global agreement contrasts with the European Commission [which] is about to force [carmakers] to limit the carbon intensity of their fleets. [Attention drawn to"The European Car Industry: Collision Course"(105-6):- Highlight: "There is now little doubt that in only a few years' time European carmakers will have to meet the world's strictest CO2 emission standards".] Other countries are picking on road transport [:] China has imposed fuel-economy regulations, and US Congress has just approved a bill tightening its own. [Another serious CO2-related article: "Cement: Concrete Proposals Needed" (106):-Highlight:"Cement firms [say that] in time they may be able to capture the CO2 they produce and store it underground. [A critic] says anxious environmentalists should take on the construction industry as a whole. Buildings could be more energy-efficient... and smarter architecture and city planning could reduce the demand for cement and concrete".] However, as Bali showed, politics has a habit of undermining economics. A global carbon price remains a distant hope, and the planet is getting warmer. [W]hen some future Bali really does produce an historic agreement to cut global emissions, greener companies of all sorts will be better placed to compete in a low-carbon world".

The Economist 26 Jan 08"Briefing: World's Silver Lining: Somewhere Over the Rainbow"(27-9):-off.sum:"[B]ehind headlines, the world is unexpectedly prosperous and peaceful". Highlights: "[S]ense of impending doom is not confined to politicians[; p]ublic attitudes...have become more pessimistic/inward-looking... Support for international trade/multinational companies is falling. Opposition to immigration is growing. [M]inorities say globalisation bad. [M]ain perceived threat varies - climate change to economic recession[;] general mood a bit despondent[, and] outside world viewed as a source of trouble. For a great many, things are pretty rotten[; but] is broader proposition true?.. To some extent,.. optimism is borne out by impartial data [on] evidence: underlying social conditions in poor countries; poverty alleviation over past decade; incidence of wars/political violence. By these.,. world seems to be in rather better shape than most realise". Rest of Brief summarized tightly:"In world, 135m escaped dire poverty in 99-04[, while] increased number [gained] access to safe water[, and] rate at which die from infectious diseases falling, except in Africa. UNICEF[:] first [modern] time fewer than 10m children dying/year before age five[ - ]fall of 25% since 90. Life expectancy up a bit in low-/middle-income states. [L]iteracy... now nearly 90% [of those 15-25]. [B]iggest change affecting lives[: poor-country people] now able to exert more control over fertility, hence size of families. [F]ertility rate... in low-/mid-income states has crashed. In world, fertility fallen from 4.8 to 2.6 in 25 years. [M]ost important exception [- 5.0-] in sub-Saharan Africa + Yemen... Globalisation seems to lead to... a population eventually stabilized[, but initial labour-concentrated industry can employ the workers resulting from previously higher fertility.] Last year global economy entered fifth year of 4+% annual growth.,. trade grew at 9%.,. inflation more or less under control [and] growth was spread around fairly evenly. [M]ore than 40 nations... growing at 7% a year or more [- doubling] size of an economy in a decade. As result, world's economic balance is tilting from rich industrialised countries to emerging markets. [Also, seems] emerging markets in better position to cope with credit crunch than rich". [Examples stressed:"Decoupling 1: Emerging Asia: An Independent Streak"(72):-"Some... fear US's weakening economy will drag down Asia. [E]merging countries[: for variety of] reasons, even if Asia's exports clearly have not decoupled from US, its economies will be less hurt by a recession there than in the past". "Decoupling 2: Japan: Unable to Fend for Itself"(73):-"Japan's export-led economy still relies heavily on US... Alarm partly over effects US recession might have on Japanese economy. But, equally, it is over a dysfunctional political establishment at home that is incapable of facing up to a weakening economy".] "Inequality has risen in both rich and poor countries... But it is not clear that globalisation... is to blame[; it] sometimes increases inequality, sometimes reduces it... A more plausible culprit seems to be technological progress[: the more such progress, the better the well-off do. But to limit technology... would be worse than the disease. [F]low of new ideas is the only way of getting growth rates up to 5-10%/year. [N]umber of very poor people in world is falling fast. In 90 those on $1/day accounted for 25+% in developing countries. By 2015, proportion of very poor should have shrunk to 10%. [D]ramatic explanation for improved living standards is decline in number of wars, and in deaths from violence and genocide. [C]onflicts... fell from over 50 at start of 90s to just over 30 in 2005... Number of international wars peaked during 70s and has been falling slowly since. Civil wars continued to rise until about 90 and then fell precipitately. In total, death toll in battle fell from over 200,000/year in mid-80s to below 20,000 in mid-2000s. [S]imilar pattern with worst of crimes, genocide. [I]n quantitative sense, late 80s and early 90s were worse [than more recently]. [Also during this decade,] there has been a dramatic rise in the number of conflicts resolved... A big exception to the rule of declining political violence is the rise of terrorism. [T]he number of international terrorist incidents has risen since 11 Sep 01 after a decade of decline. The number of deaths from terrorist acts has climbed almost everywhere. [Yet] the Mideast has suffered more violence/fatalities than the rest of the world put together. [This] is a reminder of the many ills - climate change, greenhouse gases, chronic diseases in poor countries and much, much more - that need to be set against the achievements of the past few years. [But] better world is painfully and fitfully coming into being". [See: Christopher Spencer REASONS WHY ALL SOCIETIES... (op.cit) for why emotional violence, travelling deaths or planetary dangers could increase globally as potential products of modern society unless there is better human cooperation.]

The Economist 09 Feb 08"Kenya's Tragedy: Stop This Descent into Hell"(Edit.14):-must imply that the"tribal" pluralities of all states in South-Saharan Africa might develop serious Kenyan-type issues. Off.sum:"President Mwai Kibaki must be persuaded to compromise or he may lose a country". Highlights: Six weeks after Kibaki stole an election, bloodshed/ethnic cleansing in swathes of Kenya getting frighteningly worse. Parts of country in danger of sealing themselves off... Areas where a medley of ethnic groups once lived together are being ripped apart in tribal mayhem. [Details on inter-tribal crisis:"Kenya: Ethnic Cleansing in Luoland"(51-2).] Economy is rapidly deteriorating. Export of tea, coffee and flowers, big foreign-currency earners, has slowed drastically ["Kenya's Flower Industry: Roses Are Red"(71)]. Tourism is plummeting... Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. [Kibaki must give ground to the opposition led by Raila Odinga; o]therwise Kenya will move beyond saving. This would be terrible[, as] it threatens the well-being of entire region... International bodies/countries, that might have been expected to squeeze Kibaki into seeing sense, been incoherent... Chinese...have unhelpfully sneered that multi-party democracy is ill-suited to Africa[: "Kenya and China: The Sound of Silence"(52).] The world may have now to settle for... a government of national unity... There is no easily enforceable way for outsiders to impose sensible conditions[, but] the most powerful pressure against Kibaki is the... economy threatening to implode. [H]is refusal to budge is leading all Kenyans... into a bloody... dead end, from which it may soon become impossible to retreat".

The Economist 16 Feb 08"Briefing: China's Infrastructure Splurge: Rushing On By Road, Rail and Air"(30-2):-off.sum:"China's race to build roads, railways and airports speeds ahead. Democracy, says official, would sacrifice efficiency". "China's Farmland: This Land is My Land" :-off.sum./key point:"Peasants for privatisation/Government worries that country's food security will be jeopardised by the loss of farming land. It is alarmed that peasants living close to cities have increasingly been behaving as if the land is theirs already". "Politics and Sport: [China's] High Hurdles"(67):-off.sum/key point:"It has never been possible to separate the Olympics from politics/Games are of huge political importance to China[:] leaders want to show off their country as a respected world power"."The World Economy: A Stimulating Notion"(81-3):-off.sum/point: "Idea of giving flagging economies a fiscal boost is back in fashion/Economies with the strongest fiscal positions, such as China, need to worry about overheating more than slumping". "Asian Budget Finances: Poles Apart"(82):-off.sum/point:"China has plenty more room than India to stimulate growth/Government could have a surplus of around 3% of GDP. China's public debt... only 17% of GDP... China has best fiscal position of any big country". "Economics Focus: From Mao to the Mall"(86):-off.sum/final para:"Amid all the global gloom, the good news is that China is turning into a nation of spenders, as well as sellers/In 2008 China will probably suffer its first slowdown in growth for seven years. But strong domestic demand should mean that a US recession would not bring the Chinese economy to a screeching halt. Indeed, to the extent that economy was starting to overheat, a slowdown will be welcomed by Chinese policymakers. If almost all of the slowdown comes from net exports, while domestic spending remains robust, then the whole world can cheer, too". Highlights of "Brief":-China's rapid economic growth and equally rapid integration into the global economic system is putting huge strains on its infrastructure. This has led to a spate of spending on transport. [Such] investment will see double-digit growth every year for the rest of the decade[:] 06-10, $200b expected in railways alone[;] world's longest sea-crossing bridge due to open in Jun 08[;] from Aug, journey from Beijing to nearest port[115km] reduced to 30min with inauguration of bullet-train link[;] work began Jan on 1300km line[$30b] between Beijing and Shanghai [to] reduce rail time from 10 to 5hrs [-]competitive to flying. [S]ince 90s China has built an expressway network criss-crossing the country that is second only to US... system in length. By end 07, some 53,600km of toll expressways built. [Aim:] 70,000km by 20. [N]etwork has helped divert some of freight traffic from overburdened railway system [and] promote sharp increase in private car ownership[,] the growth of industries near the route and increasing use of cars for long-distance travel. [Also] planned construction of 300,000km new rural roads between 06 and 10, increase of nearly 50%... World Bank[:] China's railways carry 25% of world railway traffic on just 6% of its track length[; but] investment has grown considerably [-] biggest expansion... undertaken by any country since 19th century [-] to 120,000km by 15. [B]y 20, railway system's freight-handling capacity should be greater than demand [-] at present can handle only 40%[, so] bring down logistics costs, which amount to 18% of GDP, and help reduce pollution [via lorries]. Aviation facilities will expand rapidly[:] increase in air passenger traffic from 7m in 85 to over 185m in 07. [Planned] to add 97 airports by 20, to 142 China had end of 06. [A]lso huge expansion of seaport capacity[:] government predicts container throughput will increase by 85% between 10 and 20. [Also,] rapid expansion of costly [subways;] now 15 cities building them [and] Beijing will have biggest underground network in the world by 15. Complaints still abound about the way things work[:] China has 70% of the world's tolled roads and its tolls are highest in world [- so] lorries routinely overload[, helping] make roads among the most dangerous in world (89,000 deaths in 06). [Plans for the coming years may encounter a bit more resistance: middle-class now growing rapidly, with some increasingly vocal. T]he most jaw-dropping project of all [is] an expressway from Beijing to Taipei [by 30]. How the road would traverse the 150km Taiwan Strait is not mentioned".

The Economist 23 Feb 08"Agriculture: The Next Green Revolution"(81-2):-off.sum:-"Europe may not like it, but genetic modification is transforming agriculture". Highlights:"For a decade Europe has rebuffed biotechnology firms [eg Monsanto] to promote genetically modified crops. Despite scientific assurances that genetically modified organisms(GMOs)safe for human consumption, and ruling by WTO against national import bans in EU, many Europeans yet to touch or taste them. That may soon change, according to boss of [a] food giant: '[This] moment of history when GM technology... a fact of life'. [B]ecause many large agricultural exporters have adopted GMOs, expensive to avoid them. [F]armers' lobby... warns: rising cost of feed could wipe out Europe's livestock industry unless [GMO] bans lifted. [Re: allow imports of maize/potatoes,] EC likely to say yes... Monsanto enjoying huge commercial success... Global commodity-price boom helps. [Extract from"Commodities: What Downturn?"(91):-"[F]armers should be quicker to respond to price signals[:] prices of wheat/corn/soybeans all high. [US] believes global wheat demand will continue to exceed supply this year [and] push US wheat stocks to lowest level since 1948".] Monsanto insists firm's advances in GMO technology fetching premium prices. [F]irm's fortunes boosted by success of GMOs outside Europe. [N]on-profit outfit... charts dramatic growth in 12 years GMOs available. Area under cultivation increased 12% last year, to 114m hectares globally [rapid growth Argentina/ Brazil/India/China]. [M]arket for agricultural biotechnology from $3b in 01 to $6b in 06; expected to reach $8.4b by 11. [C]ould reach $50b by 25 as second generation of GMO reaches market. Proponents[:] confluence of social, commercial, technological forces boosting case for the technology. As India/China richer, world likely need more food, just as arable land/water/energy: scarcer/more expensive. GMOs offer a way out, providing higher yields even as require less water/energy/fertiliser. Early...technology.. genetically engineered... resistant to herbicides/pesticides. Second generation[:]further traits, eg drought resistance. [F]armers can expect ever-faster cycles of product upgrades... Monsanto predicts yield from maize - doubled since 70 - can double again by 30. [M]ost important reason to think GMOs have brighter future, comes not from benefits to farmers. Big difference with next generation of technology... is that it will also provide benefits to consumers. [Firms] able to improve soya oil so that it tastes better, is healthier, produces no trans-fats during cooking. [I]f future products offer things consumers want, such as healthier food, and address problems that European regulators are worried about, such as obesity and climate change, then GMOs may yet have their day in Europe".

The Economist 08 Mar 08"TECHNOLOGY QUARTERLY"(own 32 pages):-all such items are listed by their full titles, plus their formal summaries/highlighted quotes, in RECENT DEVELOPMENTS. The 08 Mar 08 version, however, contains unusually important items relating to both the global warming threat and the urgent energy needs of poor countries, so two are stressed and more fully highlighted here."A Bag Full of Sunshine"(11):-official sum:"Energy:Combination of flexible solar cells and low-energy lighting provides way to bring electric light to isolated communities". Highlights:-"[Two US firms] have developed a cheap/practical/portable way to capture sun's rays by day and release them by night as useful light, wherever needed. 'Portable light' combines solar cells with light-emitting diodes attached to the surface of a fabric that can be made into bags, and thus carried around during daylight hours. In sunlight, the cells generate electricity that is stored in batteries stitched into the material. When it gets dark, the batteries power light-emitting diodes that are also sewn onto the cloth. [H]ave created a device that can stash away enough electricity to power the light-emitting diodes for 10 hours after 3 hours in full sunlight. [I]f all goes well, [firm] hopes to sell its invention to rural communities in Africa and Australia. [A]t $50 per bag... it seems a bargain". "End of a Dammed Nuisance"(12):-off.sum: "Energy: A new generation of free-standing turbines promises to liberate hydroelectric power from its dependence on dams". Highlights: "Hydroelectric dams are [now] often unwelcome. [A] dam blocks the movement both of fish upstream to spawn and of silt downstream to fertilise fields. Vegetation overwhelmed by rising waters decays to form methane[;] capital cost is huge[;]and people are often displaced. [P]urpose of a dam is twofold: to house the turbines that create the electricity and to provide a sufficient head of water pressure to drive them efficiently. If possible to develop a turbine that did not need such a water-head to operate, and that could sit in the riverbed, then a dam would be unnecessary. Such turbines could also be put in places that could not be dammed - the bottom of the sea, for example. [T]hat is starting to happen, with the development of free-standing underwater turbines. [P]rototypes can [now] be built directly from computer models. This has helped scientists/industry solve the inherent problems of free-standing turbines. [The] new designs [in essay], combined with growing interest in renewable-energy technologies.,. mean that funding is now flowing into a previously neglected field. [Pilot projects] are operating in Nova Scotia... Soon, [it is hoped], many more investors will be searching for treasures buried on the sea bed - or, to be precise, in water flowing just above it".

The Economist 15 Mar 08"China: The New Colonialists"(Edit.13):-off.sum:"China's hunger for natural resources is causing more problems at home than abroad". Highlights: "[C]ountry accounts for about 20% of world's population, yet it gobbles more than 50% world's pork, 50% its cement, 33% its steel, 25+% its aluminium[;] spending 35 times as much on imports of soya beans/crude oil as in 99, and 23 times as much importing copper... [O]il price is setting new records because demand from China and other developing economies is still on the rise. IEA expects China's oil imports to triple by 30. [Editorial then flags:"A Special Report On China's Quest For Resources"(Special 1-22):-off.sum.of introduction titled "A Ravenous Dragon"(3-6): "China's hunger for natural resources has set off a global commodity boom. Developed states worry about being left high/dry, but biggest effects will be in China itself, says Edward McBride". Other essays/off.sums:"Iron Rations"(6-8):"China is determined to make the most of its own limited resources". "The Lucky Country"(10-2):"Australia can't dig fast enough to meet demand from China". "Mutual Convenience"(12-4):"Congo has something China wants, and vice versa". "No Strings"(14-7):"Why developing countries like doing business with China". "Intrepid Explorers"(16):"China's mining/oil firms pop up everywhere". "A Large Black Cloud"(17-21): "Rapid growth is exacting a heavy environmental price". "The Perils of Abundance"(21-2):"China must learn to do more with less".] In its drive to secure reliable supplies of raw materials, it is said, China is coddling dictators, despoiling poor countries, undermining Western efforts to spread democracy/prosperity... This ignores benefits China's commodities binge brings, not only to poor countries, but also to some rich ones. [E]conomies of