November 07, 2012

Natural Security News: Post-Election Edition

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
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.

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