12 December 2016   Leave a comment

China flew a long-range nuclear-capable bomber along its “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea.  It was the first time that China has sent the bomber that far into the contested region and its followed a statement by US President-elect Trump’s televised comment that:

“I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade. …I mean, look … we’re being hurt very badly by China with devaluation; with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don’t tax them; with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn’t be doing; and, frankly, with not helping us at all with North Korea.”

In addition, there is evidence that China is getting ready to deploy its Chinese version of the SA-21 surface-to-air missile system on the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.  The anti-missile system is its most advanced defensive system against air attacks.  An editorial in the China Times, which reflects official Chinese government opinion, asserted that Trump is “as ignorant as a child in terms of foreign policy”.   It is hard to believe that Mr. Trump does not appear to understand how seriously China takes the “one China” policy–there are no higher cards in the Chinese card game.

China’s H-6 Bomber

Image result for Chinese H-6 bomber

The rumored pick for Secretary of State in the Trump Administration is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil.  ExxonMobil once had shared licenses with the Russian oil company, Rosneft, to explore oil fields in the Arctic.  The company was forced to drop those licenses in 2014 as part of the economic sanctions after the Russian intervention in Ukraine.  It now looks likely that those sanctions will be lifted even though Russian activities in Ukraine have not changed, and ExxonMobil will probably renew its relationship with Rosneft in Arctic drilling.  Just recently, Russia sold parts of Rosneft to Qatar and the Glencore company, a commodities trading company, for $11.3 billion.  The money for the sale of 19% of Rosneft will go directly to the Russian government, an infusion of money that the government desperately needs to cover immediate needs.  But the sale also diffuses the distinctive “Russian” nature of the Arctic drilling aspirations which may make it easier for ExxonMobil to lessen the political sting of the dropped sanctions.

Exxon Arctic

The second most important greenhouse gas is methane (CH4), a gas that is 28 times more powerful in terms of warming than carbon dioxide but which does not last nearly as long in the atmosphere as CO2.  For a variety of reasons, little attention has been paid to methane, but that complacency is changing quite rapidly as levels of methane in the atmosphere have increased quite rapidly in recent years.   According to the Washington Post:

“Overall, atmospheric concentrations of methane have grown from about 700 parts per billion in the preindustrial era to more than 1,840 parts per billion today. This suggests that much like with carbon dioxide, industrialization and modernization have had a long-term effect of unlocking large volumes of methane from the Earth.”

Fortunately, methane is short-lived, so effective measures to curtail methane emissions could have dramatic effects on the pace of climate change.

 

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Posted December 13, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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