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August 5, 2011

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Analysis of world energy consumption
Analysts at British Petroleum state that global energy consumption in 2010 grew by 5.6% with the OECD growth at 3.5% and non-OECD growth at 7.5%, the highest rate since 1973 with total energy consumption surpassing the pre-recession peak reached in 2008.

In their 60th annual review of world energy, BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2011“, they state that oil at 34% continued as the world’s leading fuel, followed by coal (30%), natural gas (24%),Hydel (6%), Nuclear (5%) and renewables (1%) although coal consumption grew by 7.6% and natural gas consumption grew by 7.4%.

India’s energy consumption increased by 9.2% to 524 mil tonnes oil equivalent from 2009 on the back of a strong growth in coal consumption (11%) and natural gas (21%). Although nuclear energy grew 37%, it still constituted  1% of the energy mix.

Economic Cyber Warfare
PAUL CORNISH of the International Security Program at the Chatham House reviews the vulnerability of developed states to aggressive economic action through cyberspace asking whether economic cyber warfare should be considered a strategic problem.

In his working paper, “The Vulnerabilities of Developed States to Economic Cyber Warfare“, he states that a composite of economic warfare and cyber warfare – economic cyber warfare could offer a low-cost, low-risk alternative to cause grave damage to an increasingly interconnected global economy, a parasitism of sorts whereby the attacker would seek to exploit the target economy through espionage and intellectual property theft, rather than to destroy or impede it.

He concludes that economic cyber warfare should be subject to sustained and careful scrutiny requiring more agility and mutually supportive relationships between national governments and critical sectors of the economy such as science, innovation, manufacturing, industry, financial and banking sectors since the first casualties of economic cyber warfare were likely to be confidence and predictability that form the bedrock of the national economy and the credibility of national government.

A ‘nanotech’ future
Researchers under the direction of JUDIT CASTELLA of the Barcelona based Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRI) review nanotechnology , its economic and social implications, and its role in public policy and state that private investment in nanotech had exceeded public funding with a total overall annual R&D spend of over $4 billion led by US, Japan and the EU.

In a report for the FCRI, Nanotechnology: What is it and how will it affect us?, they state that nanotechnology could cause significant disruption in multiple industries and require massive investments in infrastructure with development forecast over three phases:
1. the current early-stage spanning 5 years focused on investigation phase,
2: a commercial development phase spanning 5-10 years wherein applications would begin to be produced on an industrial scale and
3: a mature phase spanning 10-15 years featuring a consolidation of the industry with a market for nanotechnology-enabled applications exceeding $ 1 trillion.

They state that nanotechnology could be compared to electricity which caused disruption in most industries on introduction contrasting that with genetics which impacted only medicine and agriculture and was impeded by social concerns. They conclude that the challenge for governments was to secure a niche for new economic growth by empowering local industries to assimilate new technologies, building a large, multi-disciplinary educated workforce, and addressing public concern over health and environmental issues.

Halting the decline in fish stocks
ACHIM STEINER of the UN Environment Program and JOSHUA REICHERT of the Pew Group state that the high seas containing the largest reservoir of Earth’s biodiversity was under strain with the UN estimating that 85% of the world’s fish stocks were fully exploited in the run-up to Rio+20 summit in June 2012, being held 20 years after the landmark Earth summit in Rio in 1992.

In their op-ed for the Project Syndicate, “Fixing Our Broken Oceans“, they state that fragmented marine management practices, lack of high-seas governance, and over-subsidies for fishing that have resulted in twice as many industrial fishing vessels catching fish as the oceans can sustain.

They advocate an investment of $110 billion over the coming years in strengthened fisheries management including the establishment of marine protected areas, decommissioning and reduction of fleet capacity of industrial-scale large vessels, retraining of workers impacted by job losses, and policy measures to enable a recovery of fishery stocks.

Infrastructure development in North-East
SHIVANANDA of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses reviews India’s infrastructure in the North-East in the backdrop of China’s rapidly augmented infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control with all-weather, double-lane roads, a road network of 58,000 kms, extension of Qinghai-Tibet railway up to Shigatse and additional airfields under construction in Tibet. He states that all passes and military posts on the LAC had been linked with highways, logistic depots and military installations and China could mobilize more than 30 divisions and outnumber Indian forces by 3:1.

In his op-ed for IDSA Comments, “Is India’s Transport Infrastructure Prepared for the Eastern Front?“, states that although infrastructure development had picked up in the northern sector there was a considerable lag in the eastern sector undermining New Delhi’s capability to thwart external aggression in the eastern front.

He calls for enhanced transport connectivity in the region with establishment of railway networks in the hinterland, timely construction of roads that extend to the borders, and expedited construction of bridges.


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