November 8, 2012

Geopolitical comments on Chinese, Indian and US energy security

A widely held US perception of US energy security risks - click to expand - so its more readable. See Brown's Global Outlook for a considered explanation. This link is also interesting.

These are some of my developing thoughts. Another work in progress:

There is an element of national competition of the US and India towards China which partially explains why each of the three are not as focused as Europe concerning reduction or at least slowing of growth in greenhouse gas output.

Carbon in carbon dioxide form is the most politically prominent greenhouse gas partly due to it being the unit of measure for other greenhouse gases, which include: water vapourmethane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

US, Indian and Chinese industrial growth policies, which coincide with greater carbon emissions, are partly boosted by longterm attitudes to economic competition and also military competition between all three. Militaries secure, defend and in the case of the US and other NATO militaries advance and invade for energy security reasons. Iraq and more recently Libya are obvious examples.

Militaries themselves are major energy consumers/beneficiaries and can be incapacitated by other militaries if their energy supplies are strangled. The German and Japanese militaries suffered this fate in World War Two by aerial bombing of both countries and also submarine warfare against the latter. China would be very conscious of the US military's capability to rupture overland gas and oil pipelines and to intercept and destroy China's energy merchant marine, shipping the four main energy commodities: oil, gas, coal and uranium.

Short of military action US political and economic power over the Middle East, Africa and Australia may be sufficient to block in the short to medium term (perhaps buy off in the longer term ) oil, gas, coal and uranium supplies that would have been destined for China.

It could be the US is conscious of its national need to maintain an economy larger than China's. China and India are sensitive to the needs of their developing economies with consumers experiencing power shortages and slower growth in many rural areas - growth that could be accelerated by more readily available electricity and at low prices.

See India's Economic Times, June 21, 2012, regarding power shortages in that country (even in the capital Delhi) in part caused by coal shortages for power stations

China's shortages map from May 30, 2011. In the China case snow and drought sharply reducing hydropower production may be a major cause of power shortages. However an alternative or additional explanation for China's power shortages has been high coal prices causing reduced output or closure of some Chinese coal fired power stations. Further graphs and explanations .

Low prices generally means coal fired power stations - where domestically available coal means greater national self-sufficiency. Oil is also important for the Indian and Chinese military to function. Uranium, even that intended for peaceful uses, frees up Indian and Chinese mined uranium for nuclear weapons. National security demands safe internal supplies and production of weapons grade uranium and its byproduct plutonium.

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