Qatar – Development

Development

If development was measured only by money, Qatar would be the most developed, with a GDP/capita of US$106,000. 14% of citizens are millionaires; the government has so little need for money that there is a 0% tax rate. Qatar is a member of OPEC, and bases the economy almost entirely on oil. The Emir says he prioritises his citizen’s wellbeing, including in advanced health care and education and expanding infrastructure for the 2022 world cup.

Qatar has the highest life expectancy in the Middle East (82 years for men and 78 years for women)- no-one lives below the poverty line.

Qatar is a developing site for tourists, due to being so under-explored. It has gained a reputation for a luxurious destination with a feeling of authenticity. The capital has a large range of cultural attractions, and natural wonders.

Issues Holding Back Development

  • No political freedom, with no political parties
  • No war of asserting civil rights
  • Trade unions are not allowed
  • No transparency in governance
  • Sharia Law still implimented
  • Qatar is not a member of the ICJ
  • Significant gender inequality
  • Ranks 86th in the world for literacy
  • The population is only 330,000, so a small gene pool has lead to high occurence of genetic diseases
  • Wealth is leading to the highest growth of obesity and diabetes in the world
  • Qatar has the highest CO2 emissions per capita in the world.
  • They are the highest consumers of water/person/day – 400 liters
  • Petrol is cheaper than water
  • The ITUC rates Qatar as one of the worst places worldwide for workers. Migrants make up 54% of the workforce- 545,000 from India and 341,000 from Nepal. Sub-contractors recruit these workers and there are many reports of slave-like conditions. (In 2014, DLA Piper published 60 recommendations to improve conditions for workers and Qatar has promised to implement them, however, there is little evidence of anything having been done about this).

2022 Football World Cup Controversy

There is a lot of talk of getting the world cup away from Qatar, due to the stepping down of the president of FIFA – Sepp Blatter- and concerns about both the climate and the lack of football culture.

The Qataris say that their being chosen is proof that there’s nothing wrong and hint at a fall out if they were replaced. In total, the emirates host 1.5 million migrants who are working to produce the stadiums- those same workers who are almost in slavery.

The kafala system gets payments from various Southern Asian countries which give them permission to send workers to Qatar. Many of these migrants owe money to recruitment agents; desperate for money they are forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions. Employers withhold wages, confiscate passports or cram workers into horrendous quality accommodation.

The minister of labour and social affairs- Abdullah bun Saleh al-Khulaifi is confident that the system wil be replaced with a fairer system based on 5 year contracts, and giving them more freedom.

Qatar has improved their housing. Qatar is building 7 new cities to house 258,000 migrant workers. The largest- Labour City- would have universal air conditioning and a 24,000 seat cricket stadium. Housing inspectors are increasing, but so is the migrant worker population; which is expected to hit 2.5 million by 2020.

Maya Lands and Oil Dispute

In Belize, people who buy land only buy the surface (and the right to dig down to build surface-based projects, such as house foundations and planting fence posts).

This is because, in Belize, due to the predominant rock type being limestone, there are many branching cave networks carved out by underground rivers throughout the country. The blue hole, a popular diving site, was formed by one of these cave networks collapsing, and the sea water pouring in to fill the space left behind. On the main land, many of these caves were used by the Maya people before the European colonisation of Meso-America. The Maya believed that there were steps up to heaven and down to hell, and that the cave networks were linked into these steps. Thus, caves were very spiritually important to the Maya people. Many burial sites were made within the cave networks. They were also used for sacred rituals, including human sacrifices, on occasion.

When North American buyers came in to buy land, the government was concerned that, should they find a Maya cave, they would use it as a tourist attraction, disrespecting the original culture, possibly damaging it, and the money produced from this would be leaked out and not even help the local economy to thrive. To stop this happening, the Belizean government decided that land rights were only applicable to the surface of the land, and that should a greater depth be needed for something, the government had to be consulted.

The Maya in the South of the country, in Toledo district, claim right to the lands in their district, which was, largely, respected. However, the government decided to allow oil companies from outside to look for oil resources in the south of the country.

This has raised issues with Maya people, not just because of the lack of farmland. Maya generally practice a subsistence lifestyle, so that they only produce so much food as they need to survive, and they farm in the forest using slash-and-burn methods. Their practice has worked for hundreds, if not thousands, of years in the forests without any noticeable negative impacts to the overall environment. However, this is threatened by oil companies. Oil wells can often leave exposed, or more exposed, oil at the surface of the land. Oil, for obvious reasons, does not mix well with slash-and-burn farming. Oil wells mean large sections of Maya land cannot be used, threatening their livelihoods.

Other concerns are that the Maya will gain little financial benefit, as very few of them will actually be employed by the oil companies. The few who are employed are likely to only be so for the short term, and to have low wages while they are. Some say that no Belizean should be happy with the current format for exploiting oil, with the company taking 95% of the total profit, and nationals only gaining 5%. It could also impact organic cocoa farming, which is a substantial portion of the Belizean economy.

This is what lead to a campaign by the Toledo Alcade’s Association and the Maya Leader’s Alliance to declare the Mayan people’s stance on oil exploitation in 2012. One MLA spokesperson said that they could not begin to discuss oil exploration without a proper acknowledgement of the Maya land rights, as, in law, their “free, prior and informed consent” is needed, as they are the owners of the land that US oil companies intend to extract from.

PRC General Pollution Issues

A real time global air quality index visual map can be found here.

Soil contamination

The growth of the PRC since the 1980s has lead to major soil pollution. The State Environmental Protection Administration believes it to be a threat to environmental quality, food safety and sustainable agriculture. 100,000km^2 of the PRC’s cultivated land has been polluted, with contaminated water irrigating a further 21,670^2 and 1,300km^2 have been destroyed or covered in solid waste. This accounts for 1/10 of the PRC’s cultivatable land. 6 million tonnes of grain are contaminated annually, costing about 29 billion yuan to the Chinese economy, roughly US$2.57 billion.

Waste

The PRC’s general lack of real environmental awareness (which proves the level of thought into one president elect’s allegations of the PRC “inventing global warming”) has lead to a lack of decent recycling systems. In 2012, the PRC generated 300 million tonnes of waste material.

Industrial pollution

In 1997, the World Bank issued a report targetting the PRC stating that “hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and incidents of serious respiratory illness have been caused by exposure to industrial air pollution. Seriously contaminated by industrial discharges, many of China’s waterways are largely unfit for direct human use.”

The New York times stated in a 2007 article that “Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party.”

  • Air pollution has made cancer the PRC’s leading cause of death
  • Ambient pollution kills hundred of thousands of citizens annually.
  • 500 million Chinese citizens have no safe, clean drinking water.
  • only 1% of the 560 million city dwellers breath air considered safe within the European Union
  • Lead poisoning from pollution kills many Chinese children
  • Large sections of the ocean have no marine life because of massive algal blooms- eutrophication
  • Pollution from China has spread internationally, causing acid rain fall in Seoul and Tokyo, and even in Los Angeles.
  • The Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning estimated in 2003 that 300,000 people die each year from ambient air pollution.
  • Environmental experts estimated in 2005 that by 2010 380,000 people would die of air pollution in the PRC annually, and that in 2020 550,000 would.
  • “outdoor air pollution was already causing 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths a year. Indoor pollution contributed to the deaths of an additional 300,000 people, while 60,000 died from diarrhoea, bladder and stomach cancer and other diseases that can be caused by water-borne pollution.”, “China’s environmental agency insisted that the health statistics be removed from the published version of the report, citing the possible impact on ‘social stability'”- World Bank, 2007
  • Up to 760,000 people died prematurely in the PRC in 2007 due to air and water pollution. Around 360,000 to 400,000 people died of air pollution within PRC cities. 300,000 died because of poor indoor air quality, and 60,000 from poor water quality.

Electric Waste

Electronic Waste means discarded electronic devices which have not been recycled or re-purposed.

In 2011, the PRC produced 2.3 million tons of electronic waste. Additionally, a lot of electronic waste is imported from abroad.

Water supply

Due to general water shortages and high water pollution, there are often issues in the PRC in acquiring healthy drinking water. A quickly growing population, as well as often lax environmental laws regarding buildings have only increased demand for clean water.

Air Pollution

Coal combustion produces Particulate Matter known as PM. Beijing suffers from PM2.5- Particulate Matter less than 2.5 micrometers across. Such fine matter can easily lead to breathing problems such as bronchitis and asthma, and even lung cancer at extremely low ages (the typical age to contract cancer is above about 75 through most of the world, with this being raised to 80 with a healthy lifestyle, but in the PRC cases have been recorded of even 8 year olds having lung cancer).

Lung cancer is about 3x as common in Chinese cities as opposed to the countryside, despite similar exposure to other carcinogens such as tobacco smoke.

Despite now having means to measure much of the air pollution, measurements in 2013 showed that the  pollution was beyond the scope of what could be measured in the present particulate sizes.

Impacts of Pollution Generally

  • In 2005, pollution cost 3.05% of the PRC economy
  • Depending on the economic model (Eastern or Western), in 2003, according to the World Bank, 2.68% or 5.78% of GDP was spent on water or air pollution
  • A review of this in 2009 said that this might be as high as 10%
  • A 2012 study said that pollution had little effect on the actual growth of the PRC economy; even if they were going to continue using polluting industries and inefficient energy sources. Eventually, the effects of pollution would start to off set the gains from them into the economy.
  • In 2015, Berkeley Earth estimated that 1.6 million people die annually in the PRC from strokes or heart or lung issues caused by pollution.

Responses

The PRC is one of very few countries actively increasing its forest coverage, which is working to reduce its environmental pollution. Due to Mao’s policies, much of the forest of the PRC was removed in the past, leading to dust storms frequently entering the city in line with the air currents from elsewhere. This started to cause pollution across urban areas. Replenishing forest areas should help to reduce this impact, although it will probably take many years to resolve the situation caused by deforestation entirely.

Additionally, the air pollution and water pollution within the PRC are also decreasing, according to government account. Although the PRC is clearly very polluted, the government claims that they are trying to reduce the situation, and there is reasonable evidence that they are taking some good measures on this line, but not very far into actively reducing air pollution, where it is really most needed.

Waste: 

On 1st June 2008, the PRC banned all shops from distributing free plastic bags to customers. Stores have to clearly mark the price of plastic shopping bags and are banned from adding that price onto products.  The production of ultra-thin plastic bags, less than 0.025 mm across are also banned. However, the ban does not effect  take-away food businesses or paper bags. The year after the ban was introduced, the International Food Packaging Association found that 10% fewer plastic bags had entered the rubbish system.

Legislation has been introduced preventing the introduction of electronic waste, but it has been criticised as vulnerable to fraud.

Air Pollution:

The PRC government recently started to include ozone and PM2.5 in their air quality indexes, which are the two most harmful forms of air pollution in the country. Official data shows air pollution decreasing, but with the PRC’s record of requests to not publish figures on their pollution rates, it is reasonable to assume that the published data was heavily manipulated.

After record high pollution levels in 2012, the government made an action plan to reduce pollution levels in September 2013. The plan was to reduce air pollution 10% between 2012 and 2017, which from the frequency of the alerts delivered in the last few years, has not been successful. The plan was published on the government website.

On 20th August 2015, to create a “Parade Blue sky” for the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, the government shut down industries for a day in Beijing, and heavily regulated car exhaust fumes. PM2.5 concentration was briefly 35mg/m^3 lower than the national average in the city, down to 19.5mg/m^3, the lowest in the city’s recorded history.

The government is aiming to reduce its fossil fuel usage by increasing the PRC’s capacity for renewable energy sources, or other less polluting energy sources, such as nuclear power, hydroelectric power and compressed natural gas.

The PRC government set up a system of air quality alerts. These alerts are based on air quality indexes. The alerts are given through the large cities of the PRC.

  • A Blue warning indicates pollution levels of AQI 201-300 (Heavy Pollution) within the next 24 hours
  • A yellow warning indicates an AQI of 201-300 for three days or AQI between 301-500 (Hazardous) within the next 24 hours.
  • An orange warning indicates that pollution levels will be above 201 for the next three days, going between “Heavy Pollution” and “Hazardous”
  • A red warning indicates an AQI above 201 for four consecutive days, or above AQI of 301 for two days, or an average of over 500 over the course of one day.

Zhouqu County Mudslides

 

On the 8th August 2010, a mudslide occured in Zhouqu county, in southern Gansu province (Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) in the PRC. The mudslide was 5km long and 300m wide, and up to 5m thick in places.

Causes

The mudslide was caused by a variety of factors, human and physical.

Forests around Zhouqu had been cut down for mining and agriculture which lead to soil erosion and destabilisation of the slopes, as roots were no longer holding the soil together and trees could no longer absorb water from the soil, leading to faster soil water saturation.  Despite the logging ban in 1998, trees continued to be felled. In the PRC, there had been 53 hydroelectric construction projects in recent years, with 12 just within Gansu province, where Zhuqu county is located. The dams have caused 750,000 tonnes of water and soil erosion and over 3 million cubic tonnes of bulldozed material, throughout the country. This has left the slopes weak and exposed to rainfall, allowing slides to occur more readily.

Oscillations between the patterns of El Nino and La Nina (climatic events where air currents across the Pacific Ocean change, effecting the local weather systems among dozens of countries) caused unusually intense monsoon rains in 2010.  Regions were receiving an extra 24 mm of rain above the normal daily rainfall. In ‘the largest downpour for a century’ 96 mm of rain fell in just one hour in the area.  The earthquake in Sichuan two years previously created cracks in the rock face and destabilised the ground; Zhouqu county is very close to Sichaun province, so instabilities within Sichaun can very easily effect towns within Gansu, directly to the North. The 9-month drought which preceded the heavy rain had added to the weakness and instability of the soil, especially when followed by the heavy rainfall.

Impacts

Social Impacts:

  • 1,471 people died due to the slide.
  • 1,200 people had to be rescued from the debris.
  • 300 people were never found, and are presumed dead.
  • 1,700 people who were evacuated from the immediate area were forced to live in schools. In total 45,000 people in Zhouqu county were evacuated.
  • Medical care in the region was disrupted as 10 doctors from the Zhouqu People’s Hospital were among the missing.

Economic Impacts:

  • 66% of the county went without power, disrupting local businesses and transport.
  • More than $40 billion worth of damage was caused in Gansu.
  • Power lines were down in 2/3 of the county which had to be repaired. Wider infrastructure was destroyed at great cost.
  • Mudslides throughout China in 2010 destroyed 8.76 million hectares of crops to be destroyed.
  •  The livelihoods of millions of people were entirely destroyed or otherwise decimated and China’s capacity to export was massively reduced.

Environmental Impacts:

  • 300 buildings were buried under mud.
  • A 3km temporary lake formed behind a blockage when the mudslide reached the local river at the base of the city of Zhouqu where the slide occured. This dam later burst causing further damage.
  • The river was clogged with debris, damaging habitats and reducing biodiversity.

 

Management 

  • 7,000 soldiers, firefighters and medical staff were deployed by the government. 20 speed boats and 4 helicopters were also mobilised.
  • Gansu province received 120 million yuan ($17.7 million) by August 13th 2010.
  • The PRC government promised local families $1,182 worth of financial aid for each victim lost.
  • Tents, food and medical supplies were rushed to the stricken area but the remote mountainous location made access difficult.
  • The governmentpromised to help rebuild homes and buildings in the affected area.
  • A National Day of mourning was observed to help with the emotional trauma.

Sri Lanka Mudslides, 2016

Image result for sri lanka mudslide 2016

Mudslides hit Sri Lanka in May this year. Mudslides hit three villages in central Kegalle district. The landslide started near the town of Aranayake on the 17th May, 2016, but events leading up to it should have made the outcome predictable from the 15th onward.

Many cities were flooded with more than 100mm of rain just on the 15th of May. International airports had to be closed just from the weather, and 35 families had been displaced. Airports would remain closed over the next few days.

Causes

3 days of torrential rain destabilised slope areas, in the heaviest rainfall in 25 years. The rain started on the 14th May.

Before the extreme weather, Sri Lanka had been experiencing a drought, and power cuts as hydroelectric power stations could not function. A rare benefit of the extreme weather which triggered the event was that the dams filled up to 75% capacity, allowing a supply of electricity to rescue workers to help them work effectively.

The main landslide area was very sparsely populated by only a few minor villages. No major work had been undergone on the slopes, as evidenced by footage of the event. Instead it was caused by a sudden huge increase in slope water content combined with susceptible rock type.

Impacts

On the 18th, 134 people remained unaccounted for, and 14 bodies had been recovered, with 37 deaths total. 350,000 people were displaced. 92 deaths have now been confirmed. 220 famlies were reported missing according to the Sri Lankan Red Cross. As of May 25th, the death toll was deemed to be 101 with 100 missing people.

The slide crashed into 3 separate villages; Elangapitiya, Pallebage and Siripura, all of which were obliterated.

60 houses were buried in dirt.

The mud level was up to 30ft deep in some areas.

Many sectors of infrastructure were effected, such as planes. Many major roads were entirely flooded, including the Southern Expressway. There were heavy power failures in some towns. The government warned members of industries such as fishing to not go to work until the situation was sorted- this was of course an attempt to save lives, but there was an economic impact because of this upon fishermen.

Response

The Meteorology Department of the government issued a severe weather warning on the 14th, for 12 hours. 100mm of rainfall was expected, with wind speeds of up to 80kmh in exposed areas.

One of the initial responses to the initial weather, was closing down air traffic.  Closed airports included: Bandaranaike International Airport (flights diverted to Cochin International Airport or Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport), and Ratmalana Airport. The Sri Lanka Airforce had to be called in to rescue stranded fishermen. The Navy had to save 200 people trapped in floods on the 17th, and the mud slides started, killing 21 in just one slide. The Airforce continued rescue work throughout using military grade helicopters. 81 Navy flood relief teams were dispatched.

Rescue teams were sent out to the area specifically, so that 156 people had been rescued by the 18th May, along with 1,550 people already sheltered in seven different evacuation sites. Soldiers were active in rescue efforts for weeks afterwards. Military spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera said that the situation was being constantly assesed and that more troops would be deployed as needed, but that he doubted they would find many survivors.

More than 185,000 people who lost their homes were housed in temporary emergency shelters. The rain hindered the effectiveness of rescue efforts, in addition to causing the initial event. Many roads were underwater, and impassible, and national parks were completely closed off, and rescuers struggled to bring in their equipment. The Ceylon Electricity Board imposed emergency power cuts as a precautionary measure. In one night, the Army and Navy evacuated 26,000 people from Colombo (the capital). 1,500 armed personal were rallied,  including 71 officers.

All schools were closed on the 20th.

International efforts from other countries included:

  • Australia contributing $500,000 to UNICEF for humanitarian assistance
  • India pledging to provide assistance, and then bringing in Navy ships full of supplies.
  • Japan sent planes carrying emergency items, such as generators, blankets, and water purifiers.
  • Nepal offered $100,000
  • Pakistan gave a 30-bed field hospital
  • Singapore Red Cross donated $150,000 in relief items
  • United Nations- in collaboration with other NGOs- offered people to help administer aid
  • USofA provided $50,000 in immediate aid and a further $1 million in providing water for populations vulnerable to floods.

(Image Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-36328863)

Tohoku Earthquake

Fact File

  • Caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake
  • The wave reached South America within 21 hours; when it hit Chile, 17,000 km away, it was still 2 metres tall
  • The Earthquake started at 2:46PM on March 11th 2011, 24km below the surface and about 70km offshore
  • The shaking lasted around 6 minutes
  • The wave was up to 39 metres high and went up to 10 km inland
  • Around 561 km^2 were flooded
  • The first tsunami wave hit about an hour after the initial earthquake
  • The earthquake was large enough to just shorten the day (by a few microseconds) and slightly change Earth’s axis of rotation.
  • There were 5,000 aftershocks

Causes

Natural

  • The 2011 Tohoku earthquake struck offshore in a subduction zone in the crust, where the Pacific Plate descends beneath the Eurasian Plate
  • There was a clay layer lining the plate boundary, lubricating the fault. This allowed the crust to move a huge distance of around 50m in one go
  • According to the US geological Survey, around 400km of coastline dropped by 2 m from the quake, worsening the wave’s effects. Furthermore, this will have impacts on any subsequent tsunamis in the region’s impacts

Human

  • Japan is a very populated country, particularly along the East coast, where the wave approached from
  • Only 58% of people started heading to higher ground once they had a tsunami warning. The others assumed the tsunami would be small.
  • Around 100 tsunami evacuation sites were hit by the wave- they had not been built high up enough

Impacts

Short Term

  • Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered a level 7 nuclear meltdown, due to a cooling system failure caused by the water
  • The government estimated that US$300 x10^9 of damage was caused
  • The surge destroyed 3-storey buildings where people had gone to for shelter
  • 45,700 buildings and 230,000 vehicles were destroyed
  • Entire towns were wiped out
  • 15,891 people were confirmed to have died either immediately or from the flooding by April 10th 2015- most by drowning
  • In 3 days, and just one town, 1,000 bodies had already been found.
  • 1.5 million homes had no access to clean water supplies
  • 110,000 nesting birds were killed on island wildlife reserves throughout the pacific; a relatively minor impact compared to the impacts on Japan.

Middle Term

  • Access to power plants had to be stopped after the tsunami, due to fears that more of the nuclear power plants that Japan relies on for power would be leaking radioactive material. Some still remain closed.
  • Due to the shut down of their nuclear power plants, Japan had to use fossil fuels from outside the country, which cost vast amounts of money that could have gone to helping evacuees
  • Rolling blackouts occured due to loss of power generation, which only worsened the power situation, leading to a cyclical worsening situation until it was resolved
  • Public transport was largely unusable for a while
  • Tsunami seawalls were destroyed at several locations

Long Term

  • Areas near the powerplant got so irradiated that it will be uninhabitable to humans for up to thousands of years in the surroundings
  • In July 2013, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany) stated that around 300 tonnes of radioactive waste still leaks from the plant daily- 800,000 tonnes of contaminated water are stored in 1,000 tanks around the Fukushima site.
  • Radioactive material can be found washed up all along the Northern Pacific shoreline, especially the USA
  • Debris was still washing up on the USA’s shore two years later
  • Damaged buildings released many tones of greenhouse gases, which will impact climate change in the future
  • 230,000 people still are not in permanent housing; 180,000 evacuees (100,000 of which came from near Fukushima)
  • There are still around 2,500 missing people

Responses

Short Term

  • Japan has an early warning system which detects movements of the crust near to the fault line, and sends out an electric signal. The signal travels faster than the shockwave, which gave people about a minute’s warning of the shaking- the signal triggers alerts on phones and some TV sets.
  • The early warnign system also shuts off systems like nuclear power plants and trains, to help minimise the dangers of sudden shaking.
  • More than 160,000 people were evacuated from the coastlines after the tsunami had hit; 470,000 were evacuated from around Fukushima once it was clear there was a major issue with the system
  • Many countries sent search-and rescue teams; Japan deployed their self-defence forces, and worldwide charities supported the area. The Japanese Red Cross received US$1×10^9 in donations.

Middle Term

  • Researchers flooded in to measure activity and changes to the area around the moved faultline
  • Engineers also studied the collapsed buildings to learn more about how to earthquake and tsunami-proof buildings effectively.

Long Term

  • The government had made predictions of a smaller earthquake to occur around the same time, but they massively underestimated. However, they are still working to try to predict earthquakes to prepare in advance for them
  • Some geologists had found evidence that there was a tsunami of similar proportions in 893, and tried to warn the government of its scale, but they largely ignored the warnings they had about how large a tsunami might become

Evaluation of Responses

Japan had attempted to have a very varied range of responses to minimise the effects of tsunamis, and for the most part, they would have been effective. However, they were crippled by massive under estimates of the magnitude of the tsunami and the earthquake, and so provisions were made only for a far less serious disaster.

There was some degree of almost “casualisation” of earthquakes, leading to people not taking all available measures to keep themselves safe (most obviously staying on low land). Japan is generally very well equipped for earthquakes, which certainly greatly reduced the impact to the country as a whole.

 

References

http://www.livescience.com/39110-japan-2011-earthquake-tsunami-facts.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/2011-japan-earthquake-tsunami-facts-about-devastating-event-that-killed-15800-1547423

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-35781593

France- Energy Mix

1973 Energy Mix

  • 40% coal
  • 17% oil
  • 19% gas
  • 5% nuclear
  • 6% HEP
  • 13% other renewables

2005 Energy Mix

  • 5% coal
  • 32% oil
  • 15% gas
  • 42% nuclear
  • 2% HEP
  • 4% other renewables

France imports 99% of its oil, largely from Norway and OPEC.

Coal was previously mined in the North East of France but  the difficulty of extracting new coal and the expense of accessing it caused the closure of the remaining coal mines at the beginning of the 21st century. The oil crisis of 1973 drove the creation of 59 nuclear power stations.

The need to comply to greenhouse gas emission regulations has led to a resurgence in interest in nuclear power, largely in replacing, not removing, old plants. Nearly 60,000 people work in the nuclear power plants. Their expertise has allowed the French company EDF to work internationally.

HEP power is concentrated in the alps and along the river Rhone. The Rhone produces 25% of France’s HEP, which is 5% of the country’s generated electricity overall.

There are plans to import electricity from Northern Africa. For instance, Algeria, a former French colony, has operational solar plants already.

France was an early pioneer of tidal power and built a tidal system across the river Rance, but have built no further commercial tidal energy projects.

Most oil used in France is used in transport or heating. HEP is used to back up the nuclear power supply at peak times.

India- Energy Mix

1973 Energy Mix

  • 61% renewables, including fuelwood
  • 22% coal
  • 15% oil
  • 2% HEP
  • 0% Gas
  • 0% Nuclear

2005 Energy Mix

  • 30% renewables, including fuelwood
  • 39% coal
  • 24% oil
  • 1% HEP
  • 5% Gas
  • 1% Nuclear

India’s energy consumption has increased by 300% since 1973. Population and demand for fuel have increased greatly, which has meant that India now has to rely on imports for its energy needs; particularly for more volatile regions of the world.

India’s own oil reserves are limited even as the country is becoming more oil reliant. India is training many engineers and is investing a lot of money in research and development of renewable fuels. With limited native resources, India is turning to nuclear power, and is reliant on Russian expertise to help manage its energy gap until technology, finances and infrastructure improve enough to support the use of renewable energy.

India is committed to researching and developing solar power sources. In March 2010, the World Bank invested US$20 million into developing further solar power stations such as the 2MW plant by India’s Azure Group. India plans to generate 20MW of solar power by 2020.

India has also built several dams:

Narmada Mega Dam Scheme

The scheme consists of 3,200 major, 135 medium and more than 3,000 smaller dams. The largest is the Sardar Saravar dam. The dam supplies water for agriculture, HEP and drinking water for 20 million people. Howver, it is mostly a vanity project; the same result could have been achieved with far smaller projects.

Namibia Energy Mix

Namibia has a GDP per capita of US$6,400. Its main industries are agriculture and mining, both of which are energy intensive; the country has an annual per capita energy usage of 7.5MWh.

Namibia relies on fuels imported from South Africa. Electricity generation runs at 387MWh but demand can exceed this, so Namibia has to import 50% of its energy. Namibia produces less than 1/3 of its energy needs.

70% of urban households are connected to the national grid. In rural areas, only 15% of homes are connected.

A few energy reserves within the country have been identified but overseas investment would  need to be put in to use them.

Namibia is the world’s 6th largest exporter of uranium ore, so it would be good for the country to be able to use this rather than exporting. However, this would need foreign financial and management aid.

Namibia recieves an average solar radiation of 6kWhm^-2 daily, which could be used to supply solar energy to the grid. Namibia is considering setting up concentrated solar plants and coastal wind farms and a mega dam on the border with Angola.

Alaska- Conflicts and Pressures

Oil

The USofA has high demands for oil and a desire to not be dependent on the supply given by other, typically less stable countries.

Oppositions to the exploitation of Alaskan oil were largely based on the fragile tundra ecosystem of the state.

  • Only a few cm of top soil thaw in the summer, so productivity is low in plant life
  • Below the arctic circle, the tundra makes way for taiga forest which has a variety of coniferous tree types
  • Supported by these environments are a wide variety of other species such as caribou, moose, bears, wolves and wolverines.

The US Government’s National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 meant that all companies had to consider the environment and recognise the rights of indigenous peoples.

  • To prevent permafrost melting, oil installations at well-heads are raised on mattresses
  • Dalton Highway (open since 1994) provides a supply route from the South to Prudhoe Bay in the North. It is built 2 m off the tundra surface on a bed of gravel and sand.
  • Workers at oil fields who do 2 week shifts through the year are flown in by Air Alaska from Anchorage (in the South) and lie in Deadhorse in raised, heated cabins
  • The Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, carrying oil 1,300 km from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez started being constructed in 1974 and was completed in 1977 at a cost of US$8 x 10^9. 5 pumping stations control oil flow. The pipeline is insulated and for most of its length is raised- both for access and to minimise environmental damage. The pipeline is built with a “zigzag” path to allow space for expansion of the pipeline in summer without the pipe breaking and leaking oil onto the tundra.
  • BP became the sole oil extractor at Prudhoe Bay in 2,000 but had to abandon parts of the oil field in 2009 as 900,000 litres of oil leaked from corroded pipes
  • In 1978 the Government increased areas of conservation in Alaska by 23 million hectare and by another 42 million in 1980

The oil is shipped out from Valdez by companies such as Exxon to refineries elsewhere in the USofA. Valdez is also dependent on commercial fishing.

 

  • The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 damaged large sections of the coastline
  • Since 2006 some double-hull oil tankers, offering more protection against potential obstacles, have been operating in Alaskan waters.

The area also has a threat of earthquakes and tsunamis due to being on a destructive plate boundary.

Geological activity

On 27th March 1964 an earthquake measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale, epicentre 112 km East of Anchorage occurred resulting in land beside Prince William Sound sinking around 2 m. Tsunami over 30m high have hit Valdez before- Valdez has had to be relocated to a higher, safer site because of this.

Tourism

Tourism in Alaska is mainly concentrated in June, July and August, and in the South. Many visitors come in cruise ships.

  • Tourists are bused between National Parks to admire wildlife and scenery
  • Many anglers from around the world visit Alaska
  • Many ferries and tourist vehicles also carry rangers who identify wildlife and geographical features

Fires

32% of Alaska is covered in forest. There are 4.8 million hectares of commercial forest

  • In 2004, 272 fires were caused by lightning and 424 by people One by Dalton Highway destroyed 195,576 hectares of forest

Ash from fire can release minerals which help plant growth and also leaves areas of the forest floor exposed to sunlight so more plants can grow there.

Population

In 2,000 Alaska had 626,932 residents, and now has 736,732 in 2016.

  • To safeguard subsistence lifestyles, a government act in 1980 gave the rural people priority in hunting and fishing on federal lands. There have been subsequent disputes between rural and urban Alaskans, due to claims of being discriminated against. It is difficult for wardens to enforce this.
  • Alaskan residents have benefited from oil revenue. In 1976 the Alaska Permanent Fund was established. At least 25% of all money earned from minerals goes into this fund. By 1980 oil revenues had allowed Alaska to abolish income taxes. Alaska is now the 4th richest US state.

Politics

The Arctic may have up to 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves. In 2007, Russia put claims to the Arctic which has created tensions with other Arctic nations and territories, including Denmark (Greenland), Norway and Canada, as well as the USofA

 

(Image Sources: http://www.d.umn.edu/~hoef0049/pbpipeline.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pipeline/map/ http://nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/news/140319_alaska.html)