Tag Archives: Energy

Stratfor: The Geopolitics of Energy

By Robert D. Kaplan
Chief Geopolitical Analyst
Stratfor Global Intelligence

Geopolitics is the battle for space and power played out in a geographical setting. Just as there are military geopolitics, diplomatic geopolitics and economic geopolitics, there is also energy geopolitics. For natural resources and the trade routes that bring those resources to consumers is central to the study of geography. Every international order in early modern and modern history is based on an energy resource. Whereas the Age of Coal and Steam was the backdrop for the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Age of Petroleum has been the backdrop for the American Empire from the end of the 19th to the early 21st centuries. And indeed, just after other countries and America’s own elites were consigning the United States to a period of decline, news began to emerge of vast shale gas discoveries in a host of states, especially Texas. The Age of Natural Gas could make the United States the world’s leading geopolitical power well into the new century.

Mohan Malik, a professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, has for years been studying the geopolitics of energy. He has drawn, in conceptual terms, a new world map dominated by a growing consumer market for energy in Asia and a growing market for production in the United States.

“Asia has become ‘ground zero’ for growth” as far as the consumption of energy is concerned, writes Malik. His research shows that over the next 20 years, 85 percent of the growth in energy consumption will come from the Indo-Pacific region. Already, at least a quarter of the world’s liquid hydrocarbons are consumed by China, India, Japan and South Korea. According to the World Energy Outlook, published by the International Energy Agency, China will account for 40 percent of the growing consumption until 2025, after which India will emerge as “the biggest single source of increasing demand,” in Malik’s words. The rate of energy consumption growth for India will increase to 132 percent; in China and Brazil demand will grow by 71 percent, and in Russia by 21 percent. Malik explains that the increase in demand for gas will overtake that for oil and coal combined. Part of the story here is that the Indo-Pacific region will become increasingly reliant on the Middle East for its oil: By 2030, 80 percent of China’s oil will come from the Middle East, and 90 percent in the case of India. (Japan and South Korea remain 100 percent dependent on oil imports.) China’s reliance on the Middle East will be buttressed by its concomitant and growing dependence on former Soviet Central Asia for energy.

While the Indo-Pacific region is becoming more energy dependent on the Middle East, in the other hemisphere the United States is emerging as a global energy producing giant in its own right. Malik reports that U.S. shale oil production will more than triple between 2010 and 2020. And were the United States to open up its Atlantic and Pacific coastlines to drilling, he says oil production in the United States and Canada could eventually equal the consumption in both countries. Already, within a decade, shale gas has risen from 2 percent to 37 percent of U.S. natural gas production. The United States has now overtaken Russia as the world’s biggest natural gas producer. Some estimates put the United States as overtaking Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by the end of the current decade, though this is unlikely.

Malik observes that this would mark a return to the pre-1973 Yom Kippur War period of American energy dominance. When combined with Canadian oil sands and Brazil’s oil lying beneath salt beds, these shifts have the potential to make the Americas into the “new Middle East” of the 21st century, though we need to remember that U.S. oil production may be in decline after 2020.

At the same time, Russia is increasingly shifting its focus of energy exports to East Asia. China is on track to perhaps become Russia’s biggest export market for oil before the end of the decade, even as Russian energy firms are now developing a closer relationship with Japan in order to hedge against their growing emphasis on China.

We are thus seeing before our eyes all energy routes leading to the Indo-Pacific region. The Middle East will be exporting more and more hydrocarbons there. Russia is exporting more and more hydrocarbons to the East Asian realm of the area. And North America will soon be looking more and more to the Indo-Pacific region to export its own energy, especially natural gas.

As the Indo-Pacific waters — that is, the Greater Indian Ocean and the South China Sea — become the world’s energy interstate, maritime tensions are rising in the South China Sea and in the adjacent East China Sea. The territorial tensions over which country owns what geographical feature in those waters is not only being driven by potential energy reserves and fish stocks in the vicinity, but also by the very fact that these sea lanes and choke points are of growing geopolitical importance because of the changing world energy market.

Europe, because of its aging population, will probably not grow in relative importance in world energy markets, while the Indo-Pacific region of course will. Though northeast Asia, like Europe, is home to aging populations, that is not the case — or at least is less the case — in the Indian Ocean world.

Economic importance often leads over time to cultural and political importance. Thus, the current tension between an economically and demographically stagnant European Union and a troubled, autocratic Russia — energy rich, but less so in comparative terms going forward — may actually expose the decline of Greater Europe, while North America and the Indian Ocean world become the new pulsating centers of commerce. At the same time, however, we may see, at least in the short term, an alliance of sorts between Russia and China, undergirded by a growing energy relationship, as these two massive Eurasian states come into conflict and competition with the democratic West.

Power in Eurasia would, therefore, move to more southerly latitudes, while the United States would have its own power reinvigorated by an even closer economic relationship with Canada and Mexico (which is also energy rich). The Europe-centric world of the past millennium may finally be passing as North America and the Greater Indian Ocean take center stage.

Read more: The Geopolitics of Energy | Stratfor
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In 10 Words, or Less… Atoms

squared ergs in round wholes

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Physics. Alternative definitions…

Wikipedia: 

Physics is the study of matter, motion and energy.

alt.S.defs:

Physics is the study of natural abiotic dynamics.

Physics is a plot to expose every universal law, true constant, and eternal ratio.

Physics is an ongoing effort to write a technical user’s manual for the universe.

Physics is the contextual study of matter and energy moving in time and space.

Physics is the rationality of actuality.

Physics is the study of inanimate behaviours.

Physics is a science in search of its own meaning.

unrelated rant:

I think it’s unfair that Space gets three dimensions, while Time gets but one.

What is Space, anyway? A whole lot of nothing! And it’s like that in every direction, as far as the eye can see — or the mind imagine. Even if you fill it up with stuff, without time, nothing will ever happen there. And yet, man, in his ‘wisdom’, has seen fit to confer upon this vast and virtual wasteland the lavish gift of three full axes!

To its credit, though, Time takes no offense, seemingly secure in the knowledge that its unitary comportment is perfectly the match of its partner’s triplicity.

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The Advent of Monolithic Man: Addendum Notice

An addendum to The Advent of Monolithic Man was added on this date.

Comments Off on The Advent of Monolithic Man: Addendum Notice

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Why the LHC won’t help us find the “god particle”

pr_06The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, was designed to create the same sort of high energy conditions that were present during the so-called “Big Bang”. Among the mysteries that Team LHC hopes to unravel: Revealing the nature of the theoretical substances known as “Dark Energy” and  “Dark Matter”; confirming the existence of the Higgs Boson (or “god particle”) as predicted by the Standard Model of quantum mechanics; and determining which, if any, of the current Grand Unification Theories is correct.

With respect to the Higgs Boson (the quantum particle thought to be responsible for giving atoms their mass) as well as with much respect to Dr. Higgs, I have a problem with the concept of a quantum “god particle”. My objection has little to do with the sacrilege of the name (offered by Leon Lederman in his 1993 popular science book), but rather the notion that one particular subatomic component can be responsible for all the mass of the unity to which it belongs.

There are two absolute states of unity in the universe: the atom (chiefly represented by hydrogen) which will endure indefinitely if sequestered from the transformative traumas of fission and fusion; and the universe itself (which has reportedly been around for a very, very long time). In between these absolutes exist myriad aggregations of matter displaying varying degrees of unity, mass, homogeneity and permanence: from planets, comets, stars and galaxies, to the seeming singularity of “black holes” — but each of these is simply echoic of our atomic and universal archetypes.

From everything I’ve read (never having had the pleasure of meeting the man) Peter Higgs seems to be a learned, conscientious physicist and a bona fide gentleman. This does not, however, vaccinate him against ever having a bad idea.

So, it has to be said:   The mass of the atom comes from the functional structure of the atom itself, not from a theoretical subatomic particle. Simply put, the atom is the “god particle” — and so is the Universe.



Keep up to date on LHC activities at CERN.

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C’mon, Matt…

Drudge Report seems to be in some sort of feeding frenzy at the moment. Maybe they’re trying to drive more traffic in order to sell more ads. Matt…?

Just check the following page leader from earlier today:

drudge

Source: www.drudgereport.com

What can I say? Well, right off the bat, it’s definitely inflammatory. And, what’s more, it’s needlessly inflammatory and not at all representative of the text contained in the linked story. When did Matthew Drudge turn into J. Jonah Jameson? (The Drudge Report website just dropped two notches in my book.)

The Drudge-linked Washington Post story goes on to say that President Obama endorses the right of the Iranian people to energy security, including the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Isn’t that what we’ve been telling Iran for years through the IAEA? Is it not already the official position of both the US government and the United Nations Security Council?

This is almost a ‘non-story’ — and yet Drudge goes BOLD RED CAPS with what, to many readers, might sound like Obama endorsing covert Iranian nuclear weapons development. Outright fear-mongering.

So, congratulations, Matt, for getting it so wrong — and for looking so cravenly propagandistic while doing it!

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The Advent of Monolithic Man

The word ‘monolith’ denotes something that is massive and uniform. As such, it can be applied to anything from a large, continuous piece of stone to a person of towering, unique intellect – someone who stands alone in his or her field of endeavour. In the latter case, there is perhaps no more perfect an example than that of the late professor Albert Einstein.

Had he not existed, we would not have GPS systems because the satellites can only be coordinated using the principles enshrined in his theories of Relativity. We might not even have television because he was the one who defined the photoelectric effect. Let’s not even tread into the more esoteric worlds of gravitational lensing, Bose-Einstein condensates, or the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox.

At the conclusion of 1999, Time magazine declared him to be the Person of the Century. FDR and Gandhi were mere runners-up.

Whether a matter of sheer coincidence or some bizarre manifestation of destiny, the name Einstein may have held a clue about the potential of this singularly impressive individual.

EINSTEIN =
EIN + STEIN (German) =
ONE + STONE (English) =
MONO + LITH (Latin) =
MONOLITH

A note about the cover shot from Time:

The iconic image of Einstein on our cover was taken in 1947 by the legendary photographer Philippe Halsman. Einstein was not fond of photographers (he called them Lichtaffen, or light monkeys), but he had a soft spot for Halsman. Einstein had personally included the photographer on a list of German artists and scientists getting emergency U.S. visas to evade Nazi capture. Halsman recalled that Einstein ruminated painfully in his study on the legacy of E=mc²: talk of atomic war, an arms race. “So you don’t believe that there will ever be peace?” Halsman asked as he released the shutter. Einstein’s eyes, Halsman said, “had a look of immense sadness…a question and a reproach in them.” He answered, “No. As long as there will be man, there will be war.”

Most people don’t have the time or patience required to understand the physics of Einstein, so I’m posting this practical explanation of what could be called Basic Relativity, as opposed to Einstein’s Special or General theories of Relativity.

It was derived in very much the same way that Einstein initiated his own theories – through rigorous, logical thought experiments and a healthy dose of creative intuition. (Generally, for Einstein, the formal mathematics to support his theories came in the secondary stage of his theoretical explorations.)

So, here’s a straight-forward, logical statement on Relativity (in 10 words or less) that doesn’t break any physical laws and which can even be seen to underpin many of those accepted rules – including the absolutely fundamental inverse square law. The principle (along with a simple mathematical proof) was developed by an amateur cosmologist in 2005.

Steinman’s theorem simply states:

Matter is to energy as time is to space.”

Proof:

matter : energy = time : space

m : e = t : s

m / 1 : e / 1 = 1 / v : v / 1
(v is velocity or acceleration)

e = mv²
(in the ultimate case, e = mc²)

 

mets

 

~

UPDATE: December 1, 2009

In response to requests for additional information on this topic, here is an addendum posted by Mr. Steinman to a related IOP [Institute of Physics] discussion group thread on LinkedIn…

~

I can fully understand that it’s difficult to grasp the concept:

“Matter is to energy as time is to space.” ~ But that’s the way things work.

In Gary’s [Dr. Navrotski’s] earlier response, he cited E(k)= ½mv² (the kinetic energy of a rigid body in motion) which aligns perfectly with Einstein’s Relativity. (Note: It is “½m” because the other half of the mass would be contributed in any collision by the body which is struck, à la Newton’s Third Law.)

The key to my challenge [as defined in the IOP discussion] was the word “absolute”, since this is when c embodies the most acute aspect of the accelerative component and reveals itself as absolutely central to nuclear reactivity.

Though the matter of “why” is addressed in the logical statement, the following may help to identify “how” c creeps into the calculation:

In a four-variable equation, you need to resolve at least two of them in order to extract any significant meaning.

The first thing to test is an absolute. Ideally, you’d want to interject a constant that satisfies two of the four variables.

There’s only one universal constant ( c : speed of light in vacuo) that applies to two of the four variables (in this case, time and space) without any need for statistical uncertainty (in Newtonian G uncertainty is 1.0 x 10^-4; the Planck and reducedPlanck constants have an uncertainty factor of 5.0 x 10^-8).

So, plug in the appropriate, defined, universal constant ( c ).

But you can’t plug c directly into both the Time and Space placeholders without a very minor adjustment:

For Time, it must be stated as the amount of time required for light to travel one standard unit of distance ( 1 / c ). For Space, it is the distance traversed by light in one standard unit of time ( c / 1 ). This reflects the interrelated nature of space and time as a true continuum.

This works regardless which set of standard units is used.

(Note: It may help to view time as latency; how fast something DOESN’T happen.)

After cross-multiplying the equation, you get e = mc², which conforms precisely to Einstein’s Relativity principle for mass-energy equivalence.

The nine-word statement (“matter is to energy as time is to space”) can serve as an answer to the original question (Why c² in e = mc² ?) or it can be viewed as a description of Relativity in its most fundamentally naked form.

While the logic of equating m/e to t/s will seem completely obtuse to most readers, the simplicity of the proof is inescapable.

Simple, but not overly so. (Some do find it maddening.)

Viewing things through the prism of “matter is to energy as time is to space”, you will find that none of the established laws are broken ~ only gently bent.

© 2009

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