There are some people in the world’s wealthy countries who forecast that 2005 will be a decisive year for Africa.
Of the many lessons to be learned from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, none is perhaps more important over the long run than the obvious need for a new national energy strategy.
The first thing to say about Kyoto’s entry into force (Feb 16th) is that it is a significant victory, won particularly by the Europeans, over social and economic complacency, cash-amplified, flat-earth pseudo-science, the carbon cartel, and, of course, the Bush administration. The second is that, if itÂs not soon followed by other victories, deeper and even more challenging ones, the EarthÂs climate will soonÂthink 2050 or even soonerÂbe transformed into one that is far more inhospitable, and even hostile, than even most environmentalists imagine.
As the Kyoto Protocol comes into force this month, a carbon rush is gaining steam in the financial industry. Investors predict that the carbon trade could become one of the largest markets in the world with a trading volume of $60 – $250 billion by 2008 and some unlikely actors are gearing up to profit from this new, invisible market. Foremost among them is the World Bank.
On its face, President George Bush’s recent endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s land grab in the occupied territories makes little sense. The plan, under which Israel would abandon Gaza while permanently annexing most of the West Bank, has met with almost universal condemnation.
The first tanker loaded with Chadian crude oil embarked from the Cameroonian port of Kribi on October 5th, 2003. The landlocked Central African nation of Chad will receive around $2 billion over the lifetime of the oil fields developed by a consortium led by energy giant Exxon-Mobil. Through its financial backing of the project, the World Bank is putting to the test a new approach to an old African problem: the marriage of oil, embezzlement, and political corruption. Through a carefully orchestrated plan to impose transparency and good governance on the elected Chadian officials, the bank aims to ensure that the money is used to benefit the nation’s people, who are among the poorest in the world.
Ryan Murphy, creator of television’s popular reality TV show Nip/Tuck, has a theory based in Greek tragedy of why viewers tune in to see volunteers request extreme plastic surgery and wind up hideously disfigured. “It’s a cautionary fairy tale. It says, ‘Be careful what you wish for’,” he told USA Today recently.1
President Carlos Mesa won a stunning political victory last month when Bolivian voters overwhelmingly approved a five-point referendum, endorsing his plans to develop Bolivia’s gas reserves. Surrounded by energy-hungry neighbors, Bolivia’s reserves are estimated at more than 50 trillion cubic feet, about as much as Kuwait and second only to Venezuela on the continent. They are valued at approximately $70 billion.
The new year brought a whisper of good news. In the first week of January, Sudanese rebels and the Khartoum government signed a pact ending one of Africa’s longest wars. Since 1983, more than two million people have died, and another four million have fled their homes in fighting that pitched North against South.
He wasn’t in the room when President George W. Bush announced it on Wednesday, but somewhere, Vice President Dick Cheney must have been smiling–well, smirking–when the commander-in-chief’s voice coupled the improbable name Paul Wolfowitz with the title “President of the World Bank.”