September 13, 2010

This Weekend's News: The Many Troubles of Water

Water was the frontrunner theme in this weekend's news. We even had a few comics with water-related punchlines.

Via the Wilson Center's Geoff Dabelko on Twitter, Steven Solomon writes in Forbes about China’s increasing hydropower ambitions, offering this forecast:

Within 10 years expect China's opening of the world's largest hydropower dam at the Brahmaputra's great bend to feed headlines about China and India's contentious south Tibetan border disputes. Geostrategic balances are likely to tilt in China's favor, especially as international support for Tibetan independence wanes after the aging Dalai Lama eventually dies.

And as if on cue, CNN International reported this morning that China’s water shortages continue unabated and are reaching crisis levels in some cities, including Beijing.

Moving westward into a dual-water-problem story, Egypt is now trying to contain damage from a barge leaking 100 tons of diesel into the Nile. The AP reports that the barge’s operators are blaming low water levels for the accident.  On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times also had a great piece on just how politically and economically important the Nile is for Egyptians as well as for Ethiopians, who are using the water for both crops and electricity like never before.

Finally, let’s extend the scope of “water” here to also mean under the sea, and look back to China in case you didn’t catch the good A1 New York Times piece yesterday on China’s exploration of the South China Sea floor, potentially with hopes of exploiting energy and mineral resources that may be there. It begins like this:

When three Chinese scientists plunged to the bottom of the South China Sea in a tiny submarine early this summer, they did more than simply plant their nation’s flag on the dark seabed.

The men, who descended more than two miles in a craft the size of a small truck, also signaled Beijing’s intention to take the lead in exploring remote and inaccessible parts of the ocean floor, which are rich in oil, minerals and other resources that the Chinese would like to mine. And many of those resources happen to lie in areas where China has clashed repeatedly with its neighbors over territorial claims.

The article goes on mostly to focus on submersible technology, and China’s ambitions in developing capabilities in this field. Read on and enjoy it, and everyone keep your fingers crossed for those witnessing water woes in China and Egypt (and elsewhere) this week.

This Week's Events

With Congress just coming back from recess, it doesn't appear that there's much activity on the Hill. This morning starting at 8:45 AM, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies will host an all day event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on “The Transatlantic Climate and Energy Dialogue: Balancing Aspirations with Actions.” On Tuesday at 9 AM, CSIS will host an event on Energy Technologies: Comparative Innovation Strategies and Technology Transfer. Also at 9 AM, the Alliance to Save Energy will have a discussion on energy efficiency with From Power Plan to Plug and Beyond: Energy Efficiency Opportunities Across the Smart Grid. On Wednesday from noon to 2 PM, Georgetown University will host an on Monsoon Madness: Governance, food security, environmental sustainability, climate change. On Thursday from 2 PM to 3:30 PM, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute will be on the Hill at the Dirksen Senate Office Building for How “We Can Tap Renewable Thermal Energy and Waste Heat. Also on Thursday at 4PM, check out this book launch at the Wilson Center for the Tenth Parallel, a book that highlights religious conflicts along the tenth parallel over access to oil, water and other natural resources.” Finally, on Friday, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies will host a daylong symposium that focuses on critical issues in climate change. Have a great week!