Saturday, October 23, 2021

American Poverty

 Millions of Americans have fallen behind on utility bills during the pandemic. 

Utility debt increased from around $12bn before the pandemic to an estimated $32bn by the end of 2020.

The UK, Europe and China have been racked by soaring energy prices. So far most of the US has been spared the worst of it but economists are predicting that here too an energy crisis is looming, and as winter approaches prices are rising, potentially threatening the utilities of millions more. Only Washington DC and three states – New York, New Jersey and Wyoming –have continued utility shutoff moratoriums that were begun during the pandemic. Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans expired in early September.

According to Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA), “The upcoming winter is of serious concern. Natural gas, heating oil and propane prices have become very expensive and will put pressure on families this winter. If additional funding is not provided then I expect that arrearages will spike again, unless Congress provides additional funding for energy assistance programs.”

Most states do not require utility companies to provide data on debt collections and shutoffs. An analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity in June found over 1m households in 17 states in the US have experienced a utility shutoff since March 2020.

Since then, additional statewide shutoff moratoriums have expired, including in California where an estimated $2.7bn in utility debt was accrued during the pandemic.

More than one in four Americans report their households are struggling to cover usual expenses, while assistance funds have been slow to reach those in need.

High and unaffordable utility bills are a problem across the US that precedes the pandemic, but one that became more prominent in the past 18 months, as the lack of utility shutoff moratoriums have been linked to a rise in Covid cases and deaths.

“Utilities is one of those day to day issues that gets missed,” said Amna Farooqi, a senior organizer with the organization 9to5 Georgia. Farooqi noted elected officials have consistently diverted responsibilities when pushed on the issue of unaffordable utility bills, and high bills are blamed on personal use rather than systemic problems. “People are trying to kick the can of responsibility around, but we need federal policies in place, state policies in Georgia, but also local policies.”

In Albany, Georgia, where more than 30% live under the poverty rate, residents have experienced high utility bills for years, often exceeding $700 a month. A report released in September by 9to5 Georgia outlined why utility bills for the city and across the nation are often so high, citing the monopoly of energy companies, poor and energy inefficient housing, a lack of accountability for local and state governments overseeing utility services, and extreme weather events worsened by the climate crisis.

In the wake of hurricanes and winter storms throughout the US, utility companies have often passed on the costs incurred by these storms to residents, along with increased rates and fuel costs. Residents in Kansas, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas have complained about sudden surges in their utility bills through 2021.

Jesse Dorle of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, noted her utility bills for a one-bedroom apartment have doubled, from around $175 to $350 a month in recent months due to costs incurred by utility companies for bad winter storms in early 2021.

Said Dorle, “Hard-working people like myself are struggling to keep our heads above water, and this hike is ruining us. Why should we have to pay enormously high costs for a basic human necessity?”

‘I have never felt so hopeless’: millions in US fear utility shutoffs as debts rise | US income inequality | The Guardian

Carbon Off-Setting - No Solution


 Friends of the Earth U.K. explain that businesses and the fossil fuel industry are engaging in "a dangerous distraction" by advocating a scheme known as carbon offsetting while continuing activities that are worsening the climate emergency.

Its report A dangerous distraction—the offsetting con takes issue with both the more commonly known practice of carbon offsetting as well as biodiversity offsetting. FOE explains:

"Carbon offsetting is touted as a way to compensate for continuing fossil fuel emissions by reducing emissions elsewhere or drawing them down using trees, etc. As well as carbon offsetting, businesses and governments are also promoting biodiversity offsetting. This is where harming nature in one place is in theory compensated by restoring nature elsewhere."

"The real and credible solutions to the environmental emergencies we face are clear," the report states. "We must rapidly stop using fossil fuels. And we must fund the proper protection, conservation, and restoration of nature." It continues, " The best way to prevent the heating of our planet is to end the use of fossil fuels for good. Yet offsetting is being used as an excuse to continue using these climate-wrecking fuels."

Carbon offsets are relatively cheap, the report says, and "will remain cheaper than cutting carbon emissions in the decade the world needs to reduce emissions to stay within safe limits," even if projects' ability to lock up carbon over the long term is not guaranteed.

To try and square the circle of selling fossil fuels and being carbon neutral, BP has bought a major carbon offset company, Finite Carbon, which it claims "has the potential to build a global platform for managing and financing natural climate solutions." Finite Carbon already specializes in forest carbon offsets in the USA, where forests are now increasingly ravaged by wildfires and pests, in a real-life demonstration of how temporarily carbon may be locked up in trees.

The overall offsetting scheme leads to a situation that corporations can delay real action to change their planet-heating practices. Simply put, offsetting lets "politicians and business leaders avoid confronting the reality of climate breakdown and nature decline, and continue with business as usual and the latest kind of greenwashing instead," the report states.

Destroying one tract of nature cannot simply be remedied by restoring or creating another.

An example is mining giant Rio Tinto's activities in Madagascar.

"Rio Tinto's QMM ilmenite mine is destroying 6,000 hectares of littoral forest along the southeast coastline, while claiming it will leave a net-positive impact on biodiversity. To do this, its offsetting programme has acquired three forest areas in what has been considered a double land grab. Some of the area is already protected under a national conservation program, and in Antsotso the offset has resulted in loss of forest access, traditional livelihoods, and food security. Villagers living on less than a dollar a day are criminalized if they cut a tree to replace a dug-out canoe for fishing. Mineral extraction accounts for most of the forest loss in the region, and some of the poorest people on the planet are carrying the cost of greening Rio Tinto' mine"

Carbon Offsets Are Nothing But a 'Dangerous' Con Job, Warns Climate Group (commondreams.org)

As with all their business practices, capitalists seek options without cost to them and invent solutions to suit their balance sheets. 

UK Food Shortages

 Because of a massive shortfall in farmworkers an “unprecedented” amount of food to be thrown into landfills in 2021.

Growers say they have been forced to throw away millions of pounds of produce, including blueberries, raspberries, apples, salad leaves and tomatoes.

One British salad grower reported that around £1m of premium salad leaves – a third of their annual crop – had been used to make "very expensive manure" because food processing plants do not have enough staff.

The food industry as a whole is now estimated to need an additional half a million workers to plant and harvest food, pack it, process it and deliver it to retailers, restaurants and peoples’ homes.

Fruit and vegetable growers had 34 per cent fewer workers than they needed at the peak of the harvesting season in July and August.

According to Ali Capper, an apple grower and chair of the NFU’s horticulture board,  “Businesses are reporting worker shortages of between 15 and 40 per cent. When it’s 15 per cent everyone rolls up their sleeves and works harder. When it’s 40, you simply have to walk by and have to let produce rot in the fields. You have no choice.”

Shoppers are being advised to brace for more empty shelves and significant food price inflation as UK production falls and more goods are imported, increasing the country’s carbon footprint.

Fruit-picking robots are far less efficient and more expensive than human beings and, even with significant investment, it is likely to be around five to seven years until they are a viable alternative. 

Farmers to slash food production after worker shortage causes ‘unprecedented’ waste | The Independent

Is Israel Curtailing Civil Liberties?

 The Israeli defence ministry outlawed six prominent Palestinian human rights groups, Al-Haq, a human rights group founded in 1979, Addameer, Defence for Children International – Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees,  alleging that they are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a secular political movement with an armed wing.

 Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al-Haq, said the move was an attempt to stifle criticism. “They may be able to close us down. They can seize our funding. They can arrest us. But they cannot stop our firm and unshakeable belief that this occupation must be held accountable for its crimes.”

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem called the government’s declaration “an act characteristic of totalitarian regimes, with the clear purpose of shutting down these organisations”. It added: “B’Tselem stands in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues, is proud of our joint work over the years and is steadfast to continue so.”

Human Rights Watch and London-based Amnesty International released a joint statement condemning the move as an “attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians,” they said. “This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations.”

The Palestinian Authority said, “This fallacious and libelous slander is a strategic assault on Palestinian civil society and the Palestinian people’s fundamental right to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation and expose its continuing crimes.” 

The groups, well known for their human rights work, have received funding from EU member states, the United Nations and other donors.

The European Union delegation to the Palestinian territories said past allegations of the misuse of EU funds by partners “have not been substantiated” but that it takes the matter seriously and is looking into it.The local office of the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said that in making the declaration, Israel had listed “extremely vague or irrelevant reasons, including entirely peaceful and legitimate activities.” It called on Israel to “fully respect the rights to freedom of association and expression, without any interference or harassment against the organizations or their staff,” adding that it considers some of the Palestinian organizations to be “key partners.”

The U.S. State Department said it would seek more information from Israel on the designation and had not been given advance warning about it.


Israel labels Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organisations | Israel | The Guardian

Israel outlaws Palestinian rights groups, alleging terrorism (apnews.com)



The Nation-State Before Planet

 


A government is as Marx described it, the executive committee of the capitalist class and as such it acts in the "national" interest which happens to always be the vested interest of the nation's ruling class. 

Australia is one of the dirtiest countries per head of population and a massive global supplier of fossil fuels. Unusually for a rich nation, it also still burns coal for most of its electricity.

Australia's 2030 emissions target - a 26% cut on 2005 levels - is half the US and UK benchmarks.

Canberra has also resisted joining the two-thirds of countries who have pledged net zero emissions by 2050.

And instead of phasing out coal - the worst fossil fuel - it's committed to digging for more. The government credits coal for providing profits to much of the country's wealthiest. Coal exports totalled A$55bn (£29bn; $40bn) last year, but most of this wealth was kept by mining companies. Less than a tenth went to Australia directly - that's about 1% of national revenue.

Mining has boosted Australia's economy for decades, and coal remains the country's second-biggest export. Only Indonesia sells more coal than Australia globally.

The mining lobby has "distorted" much policy over the years, says Prof Samantha Hepburn, a climate law expert at Deakin University.

The current government dismantled Australia's emissions trading scheme in 2014, shortly after winning power in a campaign heavily backed by mining interests. It's never again tried to put a price on carbon, or to restrict emissions from fossil fuel producers.

Instead, it's provided extra support to coal. This includes:

  • Approving new mines and extensions: There are over 80 proposed projects including plant upgrades
  • Tax subsidies: About A$10bn went to fossil fuel companies last year alone
  • 'Clean coal' investments: Schemes such as carbon capture and storage, often criticised as ineffective


Australia controversially sees liquified natural gas - another dirty fuel - as its next big domestic energy source. The government has already pledged half a billion dollars to new gas basins and plants, defying global calls for an end to new fossil fuel projects.


The article treats the Australian policy as an aberrancy but it shouldn't. Despite public claims to the contrary, there are many nations that will not comply with global recommendations that conflict with their national economy. 


Friday, October 22, 2021

Health Versus Wealth

 

Waste and Capitalism

A report published in the reputable medical journal, The Lancet, highlights governments' failure to ambitiously address the climate emergency and related health impacts. Experts from dozens of academic and United Nations institutions collaborated on the report, which tracks 44 indicators sorted into five categories: climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerabilities; adaptation, planning, and resilience for health; mitigation actions and health co-benefits; economics and finance; and public and political engagement.

"If nothing else will drive the message home about the present threat that climate change poses to our global society, this should," Lachlan McIver, a Doctors Without Borders physician, explained. "Your health, my health, the health of our parents and our children are at stake."

"Lowering greenhouse gas emissions is a prescription," Renee Salas, an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital pointed out. "The oath I took as a doctor is to protect the health of my patients. Demanding action on climate change is how I can do that."

Echoing several studies released in anticipation of the COP 26 summit, the new analysis raises alarm about the increasing risk of chikungunya, dengue, malaria, and Zika outbreaks and warns that due to rising seas, hundreds of millions of people face flooding, intense storms, and soil and water salinification that could force mass migration.

The impact of climate change on health is getting worse and it is exacerbating existing health and social inequities particularly in communities exposed to food and water insecurity, heatwaves and the spread of infectious diseases. It is increasing health inequities everywhere.

Countdown executive director Anthony Costello noted some of the specific findings: "The 2021 report shows that populations of 134 countries have experienced an increase in exposure to wildfires. Millions of farmers and construction workers could have lost income because on some days it's just too hot for them to work. Drought is more widespread than ever before."

"This is our sixth report tracking progress on health and climate change and unfortunately we are still not seeing the accelerated change we need," said lead author Maria Romanello in a statement. "At best the trends in emissions, renewable energy, and tackling pollution have improved only very slightly," she continued, describing recent extreme weather exacerbated by rising temperatures as "grim warnings" of the consequences of delayed action.

The report points out that governments around the globe are still dumping massive amounts of money into subsidies for the oil and gas industry, despite conclusions from climate scientists and energy experts that fossil fuels must stay in the ground for the sake of the planet and human health.

Recent research and newly released guidelines from the World Health Organization have highlighted how the fossil fuel industry harms humanity by degrading air quality. Advocating for a "low-carbon transition that prioritizes the health of all populations," the experts acknowledge that "even in the most affluent countries, people in the most deprived areas overwhelmingly bear the burden of health effects from exposure to air pollution."

Lancet Report Warns Planetary Crisis Will Spur More Infectious Diseases, Climate Refugees (commondreams.org)

One more warning that socialists can guarantee will go unheeded by capitalist corporations. 

Fire and Re-Hire

 The government has blocked a new law to curb firms' ability to lay staff off and take them back on different - often worse - pay and terms. The practice is known as "fire-and-rehire".  

Labour MP Barry Gardiner has put forward a bill that says fire-and-rehire should not be allowed unless employees are properly consulted first. Gardiner's private member's bill said employees should be fully consulted on any fire-and-rehire plans. If the employees agreed to it, they could be taken on under new terms, under the proposed new law. But if a dispute occurred between staff and a company, an independent committee would decide on whether the fire-and-rehire could go ahead, the bill said.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "...there is insufficient evidence to show legislation will stop the practice or will be effective."


The government has ordered Conservative MPs to oppose the legislation.


As Marx said, the government is the executive committee of the capitalist class and has a role in protecting the interests of employers,

Quote of the Day

 United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has said the world’s current climate situation is “a one-way ticket for disaster”

“The carbon pollution of a handful of countries has brought humanity to its knees and they bear the greatest responsibility. I hope we are still on time to avoid a failure in Glasgow, but time is running short, and things are getting more difficult and that is why I’m very very worried. I’m afraid things might go wrong,” 

UN chief warns world on ‘one way ticket to disaster’ over climate | Climate Change News | Al Jazeera

Fact of the Day

If All Refugees Lived in One Place, It Would Be the 17th Most Populous Country in the World

Plastic CO2 Pollution


 Ninety per cent of the US plastics industry’s reported climate change pollution takes place in just 18 communities, where residents earn 28% less than the average American household and are 67% more likely to be minority communities.

A report, by Bennington College’s Beyond Plastics project, found that the American plastics industry is releasing at least 232m tons of GHG annually, the equivalent to 116 average-sized coal-fired power plants. Since 2019, at least 42 US plastics facilities have opened, are under construction or are in the permitting process. If the facilities become fully operational, they could release an additional 55m tons of GHG – or the equivalent of another 27 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants – by 2025.

“Plastics is the new coal and it is a major environmental justice concern … The health impacts of the emissions are disproportionately borne by low-income communities and communities of color,” said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and former regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator under President Obama.

The World Economic Forum is projecting global plastics production to triple by 2050. 

 Enck said the new focus of the fossil fuel industry is plastics, saying: “Fossil fuel companies are making less money on generating power and less money for transportation … so they see plastics as the plan B. There’s no plan B for the rest of us. We are in a climate crisis,” she said.

The report identified 10 different stages in which plastics manufacturing emits the most significant GHG. Hydro-fracking is expected to release 45m tons of methane annually in the US by 2025. Transporting and processing fracked gases emit roughly 4.8m tons of methane a year. Petrochemical ethane gas cracker facilities release at least 70m tons of GHG annually. Other plastic raw materials manufacturing is responsible for 28m tons of GHG emissions per year. Exports and imports of plastics raw materials and products emit at least 51m tons of GHG annually, equivalent to more than 25 coal-fired power plants.

US plastics to outstrip coal’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, study finds | Climate crisis | The Guardian

Broken Vaccine Promises

 Despite all their promises  by the Wealthier countries and the pharmaceutical industry to deliver 1.8 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the undeveloped and developing nations, they have delivered just 261 million doses, or 14%.

"The approach remains focused on inadequate charity and non-binding donation pledges instead of legally binding sharing, collaboration, and cooperation," reads the People's Vaccine Alliance report. "This approach will not work."

"It is painfully clear that the developing world cannot rely on the largesse and charity of rich nations and pharmaceutical companies, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying from Covid-19 as a result," said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS, a member of the People's Vaccine Alliance. "This is beyond appalling.”  Only 1.3% of people in low-income countries are vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to Oxfam.

The U.K. has delivered fewer than 10% of the 100 million doses it promised.
  Germany has only delivered 12% of the 100 millon doses it pledged, and while the U.S. has sent nearly 177 million doses to developing countries, that accounts for just 16% of what it promised.

"The failure of rich country donations and the failure of COVAX have the same root cause―we have given over control of vaccine supply to a small number of pharmaceutical companies, who are prioritizing their own profits," said Robbie Silverman, senior manager of private sector advocacy for Oxfam. "These companies can't produce enough to vaccinate the world, they are artificially constraining the supply, and they will always put their rich customers at the front of the line."

United Kingdom, Norway, and Germany are continuing to block "the real solutions to vaccine inequality," said Oxfam International—namely, a waiver of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement which has blocked developing countries from producing their own generic versions of the vaccines developed by companies including Pfizer and Moderna.


How can we rely upon any pledge to cut CO2 emissions when countries refuse to cooperate to end a pandemic that has killed so many.

Manchester for Climate Justice



Chile's Rightwing Scapegoat Immigrants

 The number of foreign-born citizens living in Chile has more than tripled, to 1.5 million, between 2014 and the end of 2019, many fleeing violence and poverty in Haiti and Venezuela – continue to arrive in the country.

José Antonio Kast, a supporter of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, is presently leading the presidential election opinion polls. “The far right have managed to weaponise migration in the run-up to the election,” says Romina Ramos, a sociologist at Arturo Prat University in Iquique. “They are playing on fears of a threat to security and Chilean identity – and Kast has been able to present the arrivals as an invasion which must be fought off.”

“Fundamentally, Kast defends free markets and traditional values, and favours the image of a monocultural Chile of European descent,” says Gilberto Aranda, an academic at the University of Chile who studies rightwing movements. “His advance in the polls is a reaction to the simplistic narrative that everything that has happened over the last 30 years has been negative.”

His programme focuses on conservative family values, moves against corruption and the strengthening of public security. He makes a point of criticising political correctness, inclusive language, identity politics and the perceived “abandonment” of Chilean traditions.

Chile far-right candidate rides anti-migrant wave in presidential poll | Chile | The Guardian

Philanthropy - Keeping it in the family

 


Nike founder and billionaire, Phil Knight, is worth an estimated $58 billion. Knight has seen his fortunes almost double during the pandemic. The value of Knight's assets increased from $29.5 billion in March 2020 to $57.9 billion on October 15, 2021, an increase of 96.4 percent.

While Knight has declared he intends to give most of his wealth to charity, the Bloomberg expose documents that for years, Knight has "been using a range of legal techniques to ensure his heirs keep control of most of his assets and profit from them in the process, quietly transferring vast piles of money in a textbook example of how the rich avoid taxes."

Helen Flannery and Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies point out in this blog post how Knight's philanthropic activity mostly takes the form of donations to his own private family foundation of highly appreciated Nike stock. Billionaires like Phil Knight are the largest beneficiaries of the tax reductions provided in our tax code. As we've documented, for every dollar a billionaire like Phil Knight gives to charity, taxpayers chip in 74 cents in lost tax revenue. Yet for billionaires like Knight, charitable giving becomes an extension of their tax reduction planning and power and influence.

IPS associate fellow Bob Lord, in an article is "The Hidden Ways the Ultrarich Pass Wealth to Their Heirs Tax Free."  While Knight has declared he intends to give most of his wealth to charity, the using public SEC filings and other publicly available data, Lord “reverse engineered” an analysis of Knight’s tax planning techniques.  Knight has already transferred about $10 billion in wealth free of estate and gift tax (avoiding roughly $3.6 billion in tax) and could avoid estate tax on up to an additional $9 billion if he died today.

"Phil Knight's estate plan demonstrates beyond doubt that loopholes in America's estate and gift tax have rendered it useless." 

Knight created a series of Granter Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), a popular tax avoidance mechanism deployed by many of the super-wealthy.

GRATs "have the basic goal of making wealth look much smaller than it really is.  It's possible to have your gifts appear to be worth almost nothing, even as you move millions or even billions of dollars tax-free."  They "construct a legal fiction that this is a normal transaction and not a taxable gift to the trust."

https://www.bloomberg.com/features/how-billionaires-pass-wealth-to-heirs-tax-free-2021/

Opinion | Phil Knight: A Case Study in to How Dodge Over $3.6 Billion in Taxes | Chuck Collins (commondreams.org)

Fixing the Facts and Figures

 


In a previous blog post we cited Greta Thunberg explaining that some nations are using “creative carbon accounting” to present a false image of their green policies. Australia is one major culprit of the practice. 

A new coal mine development in New South Wales will be offset through rehabilitation of the coal pit more than a decade after an ecosystem has been destroyed. The plan allows future rehabilitation of the mine site to be claimed as part of Glencore’s offsets for its Mangoola mine expansion.  Replanting and regeneration of the actual mine site years after its operations have finished will count towards offsets the company is required to deliver to compensate for the loss of some of the endangered habitat its project will cause. It is one example to start an ecosystem from scratch to compensate for the loss of mature bushland.

Glencore’s Mangoola expansion was approved in early October by the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley. It is the third coal project the minister has approved in a month.

Rachel Walmsley, the Environmental Defenders Office’s policy and law reform director, said development approvals had increasingly permitted the use of mine rehabilitation to provide biodiversity offsets despite the fact the NSW government still had not finalised rules that defined how mining rehabilitation should work under the state’s offset scheme.

“The idea that in 40 years time a void could be rehabilitated to a functioning ecosystem that is somehow an offset for habitat destruction that is happening now is farcical,” Walmsley said. “Offsetting is a tool that is facilitating decline and extinction and that’s why it needs to be critically reviewed because it is losing its scientific credibility.”

Georgina Woods, the NSW coordinator of the anti-mining group Lock the Gate said, “Allowing coalmines to clear vanishing wildlife habitat and claim imaginary future offset for this loss 20 or more years into the future is not just ineffective: it is cynical and grotesque.” She explained the practice was contributing to a “rapid decline” in biodiversity in NSW.

How the environmental offsets scheme is failing the Australian wildlife it is meant to protect | Environment | The Guardian


What The Future Holds

 


The first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change on the impact of climate on national security through to 2040, the US intelligence community predicts that climate change will lead to growing international tensions in a bleak assessment. The 27-page report is the collective view of all 18 US intelligence agencies. It paints a picture of a world failing to co-operate, leading to dangerous competition and instability. The report is a sign that climate is now a central part of security thinking and that it will heighten existing problems as well as create new ones. The new intelligence estimate sets out the stark problems that lie ahead.

Countries will argue over how to respond and the effects will be felt most in poorer countries, which are least able to adapt.

The report also warns of the risks if futuristic geo-engineering technologies are deployed by some countries acting alone. This involves using futuristic technology, for instance sending reflective particles to the upper stratosphere which mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption or using aerosols to cool oceans in a particular area. But if one country acts alone it could simply shift the problem to another region and create anger from other nations impacted in a negative way or unable to act themselves. Researchers in several countries, including Australia, China, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as several EU members, are looking at these techniques but there are few rules or regulations.

It warns countries will try to defend their economies and seek advantages in developing new technology. Some nations may also resist the desire to act, with more than 20 countries relying on fossil fuels for greater than 50% of total export revenues.

"A decline in fossil fuel revenue would further strain Middle Eastern countries that are projected to face more intense climate effects," the report says.

Identified are 11 countries and two regions where energy, food, water and health security are at particular risk. They tend to be poorer and less able to adapt, increasing the risks of instability and internal conflict. Heatwaves and droughts could place pressure on services like electricity supply.

Five of the 11 countries are in South and East Asia - Afghanistan, Burma, India, Pakistan and North Korea - four countries are in Central America and the Caribbean - Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua. Colombia and Iraq are the others. Central Africa and small states in the Pacific are also at risk.

Instability could spill out, particularly in the form of refugee flows, with a warning this could put pressure on the US southern border and create new humanitarian demands.

The Arctic is likely to be one, as it becomes more accessible because of reducing ice. That may open new shipping routes and access to fish stocks but also create risks of miscalculation as militaries move in.

Access to water will also become a source of problems. In the Middle East and North Africa, about 60% of surface water resources cross boundaries. Pakistan and India have long-standing water issues. Meanwhile, the Mekong River basin could cause problems between China and Cambodia and Vietnam, the report warns.


Climate change will bring global tension, US intelligence report says - BBC News


War have always been caused by rivalry for natural resources, commercial markets and trade routes. This 'intelligence' report simply states the obvious to socialists.