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Since the first edition was published in , the claim game in the Far East has continued with some resolutions and additional confrontations. Contrary to popular claims of lack of openness, Cole points out that the Chinese are very transparent — all you need to do is read Mandarin! His explanatory endnotes covering the back third of the book support this assertion. According to Cole, the Chinese have made significant naval strides in the past decade but also have had some setbacks including the operational loss of a submarine in However, while their ships look very slick, Cole notes the Chinese are still platform-centric.

That said, Chinese warships have performed well in their anti-piracy deployments to the Gulf of Aden. My Japanese and Korean counterparts at the Shanghai conference eagerly grabbed and paged through my second edition copy. It was clear they had memorized the first edition and were excited to see this timely update.

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I would not be surprised if there is a spike in sales for this book originating from the Far East. The overall planetary increase in population will bring almost unimaginable pressures to bear on increasingly scarce natural resources — food, fuel, fish — and on the environment. If the impact is profound, how will stocks of food and supplies of water be affected? In broad terms, globalization has resulted in more and more people being drawn out of poverty although the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen , but as Paul Collier has noted in The Bottom Billion Oxford University Press, , there are almost a billion people on the planet who are becoming worse off.

If we look at Haiti, for example, Haitians have grown poorer every year for the past 40 years.

The Great Wall at Sea, Second Edition: China's Navy in the Twenty-First Century

And, despite expending over two trillion dollars in foreign aid, the developed world has been unable, over the past half century, to ameliorate poverty, particularly in Africa, to any demonstrable degree. The severe drought conditions being experienced in many regions of the world may lead to competition for fresh water resources. To make matters worse, demographic forces are not uniform.

While populations in Africa are exploding, populations in the industrialized world are not only shrinking, but aging. The population of Russia is falling by almost three quarters of a million people per year as a result of tuberculosis, alcohol, AIDS, suicide, abortion, and other social ills. Similarly, the population of Western Europe is shrinking dramatically.

The upshot of these powerful asymmetries is that enormous osmotic forces have developed, propelling people out of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa into Europe, out of Mexico and Central America into the United States, and out of China to the developed world.

The Problematic World of the Navy’s Second Century - ertejecanthcobb.gq

For the most part, these migrants are illegals. One can only presume, deterministically, that as the population of the developing world and of those states that seem to have almost no prospects of ever developing continues to grow relentlessly, the movement of people worldwide will become even more intense and potentially violent.

How are we to feed and provide energy for this burgeoning planetary community? Forty years ago it was a near-heresy to suggest that the world was running out of oil. Bit by bit we are coming to terms with the fact that supplies of sweet crude are not inexhaustible. While there are variations in the outlook for example a vast new oil field off Sao Paulo, Brazil , the underlying trend remains unchanged. There are fewer and fewer major discoveries. The appetite for energy on the part of the new oil-fired economies of Asia is insatiable.


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The price of a barrel of oil continues to rise through one psychological threshold after another. For all its appeal, ethanol appears to be the Piltdown Man of the energy world — half a hoax, half evolutionary dead end. While sugarcane biomass and algae hold out some promise, all the corn in the United States destined for conversion to ethanol roughly 33 percent of the national crop only produced five billion gallons in , a figure equivalent to the production of one oil rig off the coast of West Africa.

Furthermore, experience has revealed that it takes very nearly a barrel of oil to produce a barrel of ethanol. If those figures were not sobering enough, we have to face the likelihood that global automotive traffic will rise dramatically over the next 20 years — most of it in the developing world. Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault and Nissan, has calculated that the current number of passenger cars, million, will rise to 2. What does this mean in a world where there is relatively little elasticity in oil availability?

What does greater energy consumption mean in terms of greenhouse gases and climate change?

What impact will greater and greater oil scarcity mean on petroleum products like fertilizer, the cost of which doubled in ? Scenes such as this of the Canadian Navy delivering humanitarian aid to Haiti in September are bound to become even more common in the decades ahead.

There are, of course, other considerations. If sweet crude supplies are becoming increasingly finite, what about the harder to extract stocks, the ones that come from tar sands or oil shale? The former entail a number of hard choices.

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The energy required to produce oil from tar sands contributes materially to global warming. And what is less well known is that it takes four barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil in this way. Water is another of the resources coming under increasing strain. North Americans are monstrously profligate in their use of water: litres per person per day in residential areas compared with 10 to 20 litres a day in sub-Saharan Africa. On many occasions in the past three decades, the Yellow River, one of the great rivers of China, has run dry before reaching its mouth.

Over one billion people on earth lack access to clean drinking water and breathtaking riverine pollution in Asia is certain to drive that figure upwards.

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What, we should ask, is the nexus between water scarcity and interstate conflict? The forecasts are dark. Global warming will exacerbate the water situation and shifts in the diet of peoples in the developing world it takes 1, litres of water to produce a kilogram of wheat and 13 times as much to produce a kilogram of beef hold out little hope that the situation will be ameliorated in the short to mid-term.

Rising oil prices, the diversion of food stocks into alternative energy sources, the increased cost of fertilizers and herbicides, and the increasing scarcity of water are placing intolerable strains on global food production. In the developing and pre-developing world, individuals often spend the bulk of their income on two things — energy and food. Many have called for another Green Revolution, but the agricultural revolution of the s and s appears to have run its course.


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For the first time in human history there are more people living in cities than in the countryside. These people are at the mercy of local, national, or international food producers, but there are a host of structural impediments to the worldwide movement of inexpensive food. It is a tragic commonplace now to speak of farmers in Western Europe being paid to destroy their crops while millions starve elsewhere.

And our life-long expectation that somehow science will come to our rescue, as it has done so many times before, seems a fatally arrogant presumption. There is hubris in our belief that science is the silver bullet. We have pushed the planet to the brink, and even stereotypically inexhaustible sources like the fish in the sea have begun to run out.


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This is a matter of enormous consequence in view of the billions of people around the world who depend on the sea for their protein. What is particularly daunting is the speed with which these phenomena are unfolding. Or perhaps, correspondingly, the lamentable slowness with which we have read the writing on the wall. Many of these existential developments were foreseeable, but, motivated by a deadly amalgam of greed and self-denial, we chose to ignore these realities. In no other arena is this more the case than with global warming.

What is truly alarming is the speed and magnitude of this phenomenon. Twelve of the last 15 years have seen the highest temperatures in recorded history. And what is even more frightening is that scientists from many walks of life are forecasting that climate change will trigger feedback loops within the next quarter century that will accelerate the rate of warming. Twenty-five years is the day after tomorrow in political terms and governments around the world seem content to tinker cosmetically at the margins.

Disturbingly, a recent opinion poll in Great Britain revealed that 70 percent of voters were not willing to pay higher taxes in order to combat climate change.

The Great Wall at Sea, 2nd Edition: China's Navy in the Twenty-First Century

Thus, even the most ecologically assertive leaders are in retreat at the very moment when radical changes in energy consumption have become imperative. What does this dismal recitation mean in the final analysis? We know with near mathematical certainty that the population of the earth will be about 8. That is very nearly where our certainty runs out. Oil does seem to be a finite commodity, but how fast will we expend the global reserves?