The ballots have been cast, the votes are in and the pundits are exhausted. While the world consumes the election results, we’ll take a break from our normal post today to highlight some natural security news items that may have been missed in the wake of the presidential election.
Bloomberg News reported this morning that the Department of Defense (DOD) is taking a more active role in assessing its supply chain vulnerability for heavy rare earth elements, those rare earths that are less abundant than others in the 17-element rare earths group. According to the report, DOD may be setting a demand signal to help foster a non-Chinese supply of rare earths, particularly from mines in North America. China, today, produces approximately 95 percent of rare earth minerals, but only has 50 percent of known global reserves.
According to Reuters, Laos has started construction on a $3.5 billion hydroelectric dam on the Mekong River that could have cascading effects on downstream countries like Vietnam that rely on the river for fish and fresh water. Laos hopes to become the hydroelectric battery of Southeast Asia, exporting hydropower to countries like Thailand.
CNBC reports that Iran has increased its naval activity in the Gulf of Persia near the Strait of Hormuz in order to strengthen its authority over disputed islands in the gulf that both Iran and the UAE have made claims to.
Geothermal energy systems may present climate mitigate and adaptation opportunities to building developers, according to The New York Times. Indeed, geothermal energy may be an increasingly attractive option for developers in areas prone to storms that can devastate above-ground infrastructure. These systems offer a way to harness the earth’s energy to heat and cool buildings relying on less-vulnerable underground infrastructure while reducing the building’s greenhouse gas footprint.