Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

30 April 2017

Infographic Of The Day: Comparison Of Population Density

You may have heard that the majority of the world's population actually lives within a relatively small circle that covers China, India, Japan, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Bangladesh and three provinces in India, which are highlighted in red, take up just 160,000 sq. mi (415,000 sq. km) – that’s smaller than California. Together they hold more population than all of the blue territories on the map. [click here to enlarge infographic]

28 April 2017

CO2 Levels And Global Warming

by Martin Armstrong

Scott Pruitt, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told CNBC that he does not believe that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a primary contributor to climate change, essentially exonerating the influence of human beings on global warming.

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Given that the role of CO2 in the raising of temperatures on earth is by now basic and commonly accepted scientific fact, these comments from a man in such a crucial position in one of the largest CO2 producing countries in the world are alarming to say the least. Our infographic brings together NASA and NOAA data to show how earth's surface temperature has risen since 1880 - and in particular since1960 - and the upward curve of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1958.

27 April 2017

*** In the Age of Nationalism, the World Takes a Back Seat

By Ambika Vishwanath

Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.

Editor's Note:

The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's board of contributors, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought. Their opinions are their own and serve to complement and even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.

Last month, India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, voted the nation's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power. The party then selected a deeply divisive figure from within its ranks to serve as Uttar Pradesh's chief: Yogi Adityanath, at best a Hindu fundamentalist and at worst a politician capable of splitting his state and country along religious lines. The appointment doesn't bode well for a nation with a long and bloody history of religious violence. But in some ways, it's also hardly surprising.

24 April 2017

U.S. Oil in the Global Economy: Markets, Policy, and Politics

This note provides highlights from a one-day CSIS workshop held March 22, 2017, with government, industry, financial, and policy experts exploring the role of U.S. tight oil production in the global energy landscape. The workshop addressed a limited set of key issues concerning the role of U.S. oil in the global markets and is being followed by two related CSIS workshops dealing with societal and environmental risks in U.S. onshore development and the global natural gas markets.

Background: The rapid rise in unconventional oil output in the early part of this decade returned the United States to a prominent position as a major oil supplier. Over the course of the past 10 years, U.S. liquid production has risen by over 150 percent as net import dependence has fallen by over 60 percent. The United States is now the world’s largest exporter of refined petroleum products and in 2016/2017 became a net exporter of natural gas. The resource endowment coupled with the success of quick cycle development of light tight oil (LTO) continues to affect global oil markets.
Current Trends and Issues in the Global Oil Markets

To help set the scene for U.S. onshore production, three questions were addressed: 

What is the state of play in global oil markets? 

What is the status of U.S. onshore production? 

What role does U.S. onshore production play in the market? 

After two years of a low-price environment, a potentially bumpy market rebalance is underway.

19 April 2017

*** Sizing up the Global Village

By Luc De Keyser

What modern media users experience online today is a far cry from living in a global village. (ARTISTICPHOTO/Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's board of contributors, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought. Their opinions are their own and serve to complement and even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.

In the 1960s, technology futurist Marshall McLuhan rose to fame with a seemingly simple catchphrase: "The medium is the message." With the integration of television, computers and databases, he argued, communication technologies have taken on a meaning of their own that extends beyond the mere content of the information they deliver to customers. The ability of these technologies to instantaneously connect people across the globe, tearing down the physical barriers of time and place, likewise inspired McLuhan to dub the digital world a "global village."

But in many ways, what modern media users experience online today is a far cry from living in a global village. Children can't safely roam the internet without supervision; adults can't surf the web without risking their identifying details, or being inundated with messages, ads and news items optimized for companies' commercial gain; users can't participate in trendy forums without expecting to get in an online shouting match. Many have responded to these dangers and inconveniences by restricting their activities to likeminded circles on the web or, in some cases, withdrawing from the digital world altogether. So where did it all go wrong?

17 April 2017

Market Forces, Not Rhetoric, Will Drive Globalization


The United States has been the standard-bearer for free trade, multilateralism, and globalization since the end of World War II. However, as the Trump administration seems to back away from that historic role, new powers like China are rushing – at least rhetorically – to take advantage of the strategic and economic vacuum that a more isolationist America might leave behind. Some fear that Washington’s apparent retreat from free trade and global leadership may provoke an international strategic realignment, a convergence of interests between the world’s remaining proponents of free trade, multilateralism, and globalization. The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with Parag Khanna, author of the best-selling book Connectography, about whether such a realignment is taking place and what it could mean for the United States and the world economy. 

The Cipher Brief: With what appears to be a more economically protectionist and diplomatically isolationist U.S. president in the White House, as well as the disruption caused by Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, do you see an opposite reaction from countries and leaders that continue to espouse globalist ideals? Is this leading to economic or strategic realignment?

Parag Khanna: I think the countries that have mutual interests want to continue uninterrupted by this new western volatility and new western trade policies. They want to move forward.

16 April 2017

Preserving the downturn’s upside

Plummeting prices forced oil and gas companies to get serious about rising production costs. They have. Now the challenge is to preserve those gains. 
Since the downturn, production costs and operational losses are down sharply—but can it last? 

The fall in oil prices has driven oil and gas companies around the world to focus on reducing production costs. In this article, the first of a regular series providing our perspective on upstream oil and gas operations, we look at global trends in production costs, and how at the same time the reliability and safety of assets have improved. We will use a recent analysis from the UK North Sea to understand the changes and assess their sustainability, along with the key internal and external factors that influence them. The upcoming series will draw from public and proprietary data sources, and recent interviews with senior executives representing both operators and contractors. 

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Improvements drive costs down as the industry responds to the downturn 

Over the last two-and-a-half years, oil prices have fallen from more than $100 per barrel to less than $35 per barrel, before a recent recovery pushed them back up to $50 per barrel. This drop has been reflected in company spending. While our quarterly perspective on oil field services and equipment provided detailed commentary and insight on the 45 percent reduction in global capex spend since 2013, here, for the first time, we perform the same analysis for global production cost, examining the reported cost for a group of 37 oil and gas companies producing close to 40 million barrels per day (Exhibit 1). 

15 April 2017

The global forces inspiring a new narrative of progress

By Ezra Greenberg, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit

Growth is shifting, disruption is accelerating, and societal tensions are rising. Confronting these dynamics will help you craft a better strategy, and forge a brighter future. 

“The trend is your friend.” It’s the oldest adage in investing, and it applies to corporate performance, too. We’ve found through our work on the empirics of strategy that capturing tailwinds created by industry and geographic trends is a pivotal contributor to business results: a company benefiting from such tailwinds is four to eight times more likely to rise to the top of the economic-profit performance charts than one that is facing headwinds. 

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It’s easy, however, to lose sight of long-term trends amid short-term gyrations, and there are moments when the nature and direction of those trends become less clear. Today, for example, technology is delivering astounding advances, and more people are healthy, reading, and entering the global middle class than at any period in human history. At the same time, the post–Cold War narrative of progress fueled by competitive markets, globalization, and innovation has 
Our work on the empirics of strategy shows why understanding trends is an important skill for corporate leaders. 

Those contradictions are showing up in politics, and the long-term trends underlying them are reshaping the business environment. Corporate leaders today need to rethink where and how they compete, and also must cooperate in the crafting of a new societal deal that helps individuals cope with disruptive technological change. 

That broad narrative of intensifying competition, as well as the growing need for cooperation, contains challenges, but also great opportunity. We hear about the challenges every day in our conversations with global business leaders: How long can their traditional sources of competitive advantage survive in the face of technological shifts? How will changing consumer and societal expectations affect their business models? What does it mean to be a global company when the benefits of international integration are under intense scrutiny? 

12 April 2017

The 74 Trillion Dollar Global Economy In One Chart

The latest GDP numbers from the World Bank were released earlier this month, and today's visualization net breaks them down to show the relative share of the global economy for each country.

The full circle, known as a Voronoi Diagram, represents the entirety of the $74 trillion global economy in nominal terms. Meanwhile, each country’s segment is sized accordingly to their percentage of global GDP output. Continents are also grouped together and sorted by color. [click here to enlarge infographic]

11 April 2017

Hard Power’s Essential Soft Side

Joseph S. Nye Jr

The Trump administration’s proposal to build up the military with an additional $54 billion while making commensurate cuts across much of the rest of the discretionary federal budget would reshape the way the United States conducts its foreign policy. Calling for 29 percent reduction in funding to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Mick Mulvaney, the director or the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), described the proposal as “a hard-power budget.” 

Mulvaney’s framing “shows a profound misunderstanding” of how “soft power” works, says Harvard Kennedy School’s Joseph S. Nye, who coined the term in 1990. In his formulation, soft power—how to reach desired outcomes without force or economic coercion—helps countries save on the resources they expend in pursuit of their objectives abroad. In that way, Nye says, cuts to exchange programs or humanitarian aid that bring the United States some savings now will carry greater costs down the road. 

What was your response when Mulvaney characterized the Trump administration’s proposed budget as a “hard-power budget” from a “strong-power administration”? 

10 April 2017

Venezuela’s Breaking Point

By Allison Fedirka

Geopolitical Futures’ 2017 forecast for Venezuela has begun to accelerate over the past five days. Our forecast stated that the administration of President Nicolás Maduro in its current form would not survive this year. The gridlock that characterized 2016 will reach a breaking point, forcing the transformation of Venezuela’s government in 2017. Such a transformation would mark the end of populist, anti-American rule in the country since 1999. In addition to leading the regional populist movement that swept through South America in the decade after that, the country is also home to valuable oil reserves strategically positioned to influence control of maritime routes – including a portion related to the Panama Canal – entering and leaving the Caribbean Sea. A previous Reality Check on Venezuela explained in detail why the status quo is not sustainable. Recent events now offer the opportunity to discuss the different ways this transformation could occur.

Between March 28 and 29, Venezuela’s Supreme Court published rulings 155 and 156, which removed legislators’ immunity, suspended the National Assembly’s powers, usurped functions normally belonging to the National Assembly, and increased the president’s unilateral powers in certain areas. The court rulings outraged members of the local opposition, drew criticism from regional organizations, and prompted foreign governments throughout the Americas to publicly condemn the actions. On the morning of March 31, Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz said the Supreme Court rulings violated constitutional order. Later that night, Maduro met with the National Defense Council and the president of the Supreme Court, who then jointly called for a revision of rulings 155 and 156. On the morning of April 1, the Supreme Court said it had reversed the controversial rulings.

4 April 2017

*** A Changing Rulebook to Tame the New Global Arms Race

By Omar Lamrani

Since man has gone to war, arms control has existed in some form or another. Among the first were the rules of battle protecting sanctuaries established by the dimly remembered Amphictyonic League in seventh-century B.C. Greece. More than two millennia later, cultural and religious norms and taboos restricted and established rules around organized violence until they yielded to modern arms control efforts taken up by diplomatic means and treaties — especially with the advent of industrial warfare

Arms control efforts, however, remain a manifestation of the geopolitical realities of their age, highly influenced by issues from the balance of power to technological advancement. The past 60 years have been an exceptional period for arms control, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that the preceding 50 years had seen two total wars where arms control was all but nonexistent. The end of the bipolar framework that existed in the Cold War, and the rise of a more multifaceted world, will once again take us into a new arms control era. This new era is one in which great-power arms control treaties akin to those of past decades are more difficult to strike, but where arms control is not entirely abandoned.

The Cold War era, especially its latter stages, represented a particularly intensive period of arms control. This was largely for two key reasons. The first was the rise of the nuclear era and the associated public and official concern over a particularly fearsome and devastating weapon. Indeed, the nuclear arms race and the emergence of mutually assured destruction emphasized the need for arms control measures to contain tension and reduce uncertainty. The second reason was the fact that the Cold War was largely a bipolar world, with the United States (and by extension, NATO) and the Soviet Union (and by extension, the Warsaw Pact) entirely focused on each other. This made it easier to negotiate arms control treaties under the relatively simple premise of more or less equal limits. 

2 April 2017

A More Dangerous Globalism


PRINCETON – “America first,” thumps Donald Trump. “Britain first,” say the advocates of Brexit. “France first,” crows Marine Le Pen and her National Front. “Russia first,” proclaims Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. With so much emphasis on national sovereignty nowadays, globalization appears doomed.

It’s not. The struggle playing out today is not one of globalism versus anti-globalism. Rather, the world is poised between two models of integration: one is multilateral and internationalist; the other is bilateral and imperialist. Throughout the modern age, the world has seesawed between them.

Since 1945, internationalists have had the upper hand. They advocate cooperation and multilateral institutions to promote global public goods like peace, security, financial stability, and environmental sustainability. Theirs is a model that constrains national sovereignty by binding states to shared norms, conventions, and treaties.

The year 2016 tipped the scales toward bilateralists, who regard national sovereignty as an end in itself. The fewer external constraints, the better: peace and security result from a balance of great powers. Theirs is a model that favors the strong and punishes the weak, and that rewards competitors at the expense of cooperators.

31 March 2017

Is Globalization A Postmodern Form Of Imperialism? – Analysis


Since the end of the Cold War in 1991 and the “defection” of the Russian Federation to the “Free World,” and the fall of the Wall of Berlin, the West has been busy marketing what it termed, then, the New World Order. In a way, it was the political declaration of The West and, especially the US that it has won this war and that it has the privilege to write history it own way.

However, the Americans are not interested in writing “past” history, the historians will do it in their own time and terms, as they always did. They want to write “future” history, but “future” history has to be written in the shape of a new cultural model capable to be sold to the rest of the world. This model, they artfully called “globalization”, meaning universal since the world is no more organized in blocks, to sell worldwide their way of life.

In fact, the Americans not only had a cultural model ready to be exported to the world but more importantly they had, also, a very effective “delivery system” which is the information and communication technology ICT: internet, satellite TV, radio, press etc. For this purpose a number of tools were popularized worldwide: Facebook, Twitter, CNN, MTV, etc.
The “subliminal” weapon

Unlike the European colonial powers of the 18th and the 19th century mobilizing physical human strength and weapons and logistics to carry the “enlightment” of European civilization to “barbarian” lands, the Americans are making use of the “subliminal” culture weapon to conquer the world.

30 March 2017

*** The Real Threat to National Security: Deadly Disease


While the Trump administration is proposing significantly increased military spending to enhance our national security, it seems to have lost sight of the greatest national security threat of all: our fight against infectious disease.

We already spend far more on our military than any other country in the world. To help pay for the increases, President Trump wants to cut back many federal programs, including those that prepare us to wage war against microbes, the greatest and most lethal enemy we are ever likely to face. This is where “defense spending” needs to increase, significantly.

President Trump’s budget would cut funding for the National Institutes of Health by 18 percent. It would cut the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development, a key vehicle for preventing and responding to outbreaks before they reach our shores, by 28 percent. And the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would kill the billion-dollar Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight outbreaks of infectious disease. (While the budget also calls for the creation of an emergency fund to respond to outbreaks, there is no indication that it would offset the other cuts, or where the money would come from.)

Those cuts will not protect American citizens. They will diminish research and vaccine development and our ability to respond to the growing threats of antibiotic resistance and new infectious diseases.

Five Maps That Will Change How You See The World

by Donald Houston

Boston public schools recently announced that they will shift to using world maps based on the Peters projection, reportedly the first time a US public school district has done so. Why? Because the Peters projection accurately shows different countries’ relative sizes. Although it distorts countries’ shapes, this way of drawing a world map avoids exaggerating the size of developed nations in Europe and North America and reducing the size of less developed countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Peters projection. Daniel R. Strebe, CC BY-SA

17 March 2017

*** Famines In The 21st Century? It's Not For Lack Of Food

Famine killed nearly 75 million people in the 20th century, but had virtually disappeared in recent decades. Now, suddenly, it is back. In late February a famine was declared in South Sudan, and warnings of famine have also recently been issued for Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.

Moreover, in January the Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET) - a U.S. government-funded organization created in 1985 specifically to predict famines and humanitarian emergencies - estimated that 70 million people affected by conflicts or disasters worldwide will need food assistance in 2017. This number has increased by nearly 50 percent in just the past two years.

What explains this rapid rise in the number of people who need emergency food assistance? And why, in an era of declining poverty and hunger worldwide, are we suddenly facing four potential famines in unconnected countries?
What are famines?

Famines are extreme events in which large populations lack adequate access to food, leading to widespread malnutrition and deaths. More of these deaths are caused by infectious disease than starvation because severe malnutrition compromises human immune systems. This makes people much more susceptible to killer diseases such as measles, or even common conditions such as diarrhea. Young children are especially vulnerable.

13 March 2017

The geopolitics of environmental issues

Giulio Boccaletti

Environmental degradation and natural-resource insecurity are undermining our ability to tackle some of the biggest global issues we face

Just as natural resource insecurity can cause displacement and vulnerability, effective natural resource management can support conflict resolution and sustainable development. Photo: Reuters

Much of the world seems to be on edge. The West’s relationship with Russia, the future of Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the Syrian civil war and refugees, rising right-wing populism, the impact of automation, and the UK’s impending departure from the European Union: All these topics—and more—have roiled public debate worldwide. But one issue—one might say the most significant of them all—is being ignored or pushed aside: the environment.

That was the case at this year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Beyond a mention of the Paris climate agreement by Chinese President Xi Jinping, topics like climate change and sustainable development didn’t even make it to the main stage. Instead, they were relegated to side meetings that rarely seemed to intersect with current political and economic events.

10 March 2017

Getting to the root causes of antimicrobial resistance

Laura H. Kahn

The global rise in resistance to antibiotics is threatening the foundation of modern medicine. Just as the invention of penicillin and other antibiotics transformed health care in the 20th century, today, waning effectiveness means that at least 23,000 Americans die each year from drug-resistant bacteria. Soon, therapies we take for granted like elective surgery, cancer treatments, and the immunosuppressants that enable organ transplants could become too dangerous because of the risk of infection. Simple cuts could become fatal, just as they often were before antibiotics revolutionized medical care. In 2016 the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance—a report commissioned by then-British Prime Minister David Cameron—estimated that by 2050, 10 million lives would be lost each year globally due to antimicrobial-resistant infections, cumulatively costing 100 trillion US dollars. 

Considering the urgency of the problem, we understand remarkably little about the causes of antimicrobial resistance. Rounds of finger-pointing, in which doctors blame the problem on overuse of antibiotics in agriculture and farmers blame overuse in medicine, have done little to shed light. Rapid scientific advances, though, are giving us hints on how to get to the root causes. They suggest we need a “One Health” approach: That is, we can only understand—and ultimately stop—antimicrobial resistance by looking at human, animal, and environmental health together. When these three areas of study fail to share and communicate, we can’t see the whole picture.

9 March 2017

Andrey Kortunov: From Post-Modernism to Neo-Modernism, or Recalling the Future

Andrey Kortunov

Post-Modernism has failed for many reasons, among them its complete disrespect for legality, morality, the public interest at large, and reality. Neo-Modernism is emergent, and is characterized by four tenets: nationalism, transactionalism, holism, and historicism. Lacking within neo-modernism is a strategic construct for creating sustainable peace & prosperity within and among nations.

It is common knowledge that the concept of post-modernism came into international relations lexicon from the French philosophy of the 1970s-1980s. Shortly before the end of the last great rise of French intellectual universalism, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan and other founders and opponents of post-structuralism formulated the basic characteristics of post-modernism as an integral sociological and historical interpretation of the modern world.

Most often cited are four of them. The first one is agnosticism that claims that truth is relative and is no more than a generally accepted view rather than a reflection of objective reality. The second one is pragmatism, which holds that the only unquestionable value is success, and success is measured solely by material achievements of individuals or their groups. The third one is eclecticism that maintains that in order to succeed an individual and society randomly blend conflicting principles, strategies and behavioral models. The fourth one is anarcho-democracy, which states that the combined effect of agnosticism, pragmatism and eclecticism consistently destroys the legitimacy of any social and political hierarchy by opposing it with a completely free “atomized” personality.