November 22, 2010

This Weekend’s News: Pretty Much Everything Natural Security, Including Comics

I spent this weekend catching up on last week’s news – a busy week, with obviously nothing bigger than the pending British royal weeding (although, we regular Us Weekly readers have known for weeks that this was coming). Oh yes, and the DPRK has built a new nuclear plant, and you should all have been keeping up on the steady reports from Lisbon. 

But it’s just not the weekend without time spent reading the comics. Believe it or not, Ted Rall based a strip on the Nagoya Protocol, representing the first comic I think I’ve ever seen on biodiversity (if you don’t count Opus). Walt Handlesman also had us look to the bright side of climate change. Get ready for an active few weeks of Cancun climate negotiations strips as well.

In more general natural security news, on Saturday the AP reported that President Obama made time to visit a GM electric car plant during his trip to Portugal to promote electric vehicles. Quote the AP (of Obama): the electric car "is the future." But for now, as petroleum runs most vehicle transportation, you should note that the LA Times reports that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is traveling to the United States for medical treatment. This is raising a new round of succession speculation – always worth watching for those concerned with the oil markets.

Next – and we all knew this was coming – The Washington Post has begun its pre-Cancun climate change coverage. How’s that for alliteration. The reporters describe that the Obama administration will be moving to a “Plan B” for Cancun and for addressing climate change given the number of climate science deniers among the incoming members of Congress:

Environmentalists now say their best hope in Cancun is not for a grand global deal - which was the ambition they brought to Copenhagen - but rather for a series of small agreements on how to pay for measures such as reducing deforestation or how to help poor countries adapt to a warming climate.

The United States could participate in small agreements such as these, experts said, without having to get a treaty through a skeptical Congress.

We’ll talk more about this as Cancun draws closer, but in our August Cancun negotiation simulation, we found that delegates made so many deals and concessions related to these narrower measures that, in the end, a comprehensive deal was required.

Finally, we turn to China. The Post and The New York Times had dueling China-investing-abroad stories, both rooted in no small part in China’s need for natural resources to continue its economic growth. The Post piece focused on China’s investments in Cambodia, while the Times took us to a Chinese-run mining operation in Zambia. Both stories are worth reading as pieces of the continuing geopolitical changes that growing natural resource demands are triggering; both are surely also partial truths. They do both beg for on-the-ground information in examining the net effects of China’s drive for resource acquisitions.

The Week Ahead

Well, it’s a Thanksgiving holiday, so I sincerely hope that few of you are considering working too hard. For the few souls left in the D.C. area this week, I will suggest two competing events on Tuesday at noon, depending on your mood: Resources for the Future is hosting a discussion on “The Impact on U.S. Industries of Carbon Prices with Output-Based Rebates over Multiple Time Frames;” and the Aspen Institute is hosting a “Dialogue featuring Sean Wilentz, author of Bob Dylan in America.”

Enjoy your Tofurky’s, travel safely, and have a great week everyone!