2006 was hottest US year ever

That’s right, 2006 was the hottest ever. One side effect of this is natural gas prices are tumbling because of decreased need in heating homes. In the coming years we will see all manner of weather shifts and price gyrations from global warming. This will lead to politically instability in some areas.

It’s not just happening in the States either.

Joe Hartley emails

Weather, of course, is statistical. However, you might want to start monitoring weather in South America. Córdoba, inland in Argentina, is flooding, as are cities in Brazil. Lots of rain in what should be pure summer, which is unusual down there.Not that a few variations means much, but they are at least anecdotal evidence.

Reader Suvro comments on our post about China and India facing up to global warming.

India has woken up to the fact that its growing energy hunger will NOT be satisfied by C-based fuels. Indian coal is quite dirty – high sulfur content. Better grade coal is available from Indonesia and other places, but transportation costs add a large penalty. Indigenous coal, while plentiful, is low grade with high ash content also.

Coal is a terrible way to generate power. Not only is it a gross pollutant when burned, the mining of it destroys huge areas forever. We must find and use better, less-polluting and more renewable ways to generate energy before climate change causes irreversible problems.

India’s natural gas and oil reserves are quite small. Neighbors have plenty of natural gas (Bangladesh, Iran, central Asia), but are either inimical politically (Bangladesh) or there are physical barriers to pipelines (Pakistan). Also India has NOT been successful in competing with China for overseas oil and natural gas reserves (Myanmar, Russia and former Soviet States, and western Africa). Thus India is in dire need of alternative sources for energy.

The politics of energy are like the politics of water, they underpin and are a root cause of many conflicts and wars.

As they say – Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Indian wind energy tycoon Tulsi Tanti is now running Suzlon Energy, the world’s largest wind energy manufacturer. On a recent visit to India, I was told of Reliance Retail’s (to compete with Wal-Mart’s entry in India) plans to run most of its new food stores primarily on solar energy panels. Right now the solar energy industry in India is nascent and quite immature, but I expect it to become a significant player in the next 5 years – about the same time frame as here in California!

India (as well as California) has multiple ways to generate power renewably; wind, solar, hydro, wave, tidal, geothermal, and biofuel. Doing so would distribute power generation over large areas, with much less central control, which again will have a political effect.

Some friends of ours live in southern Utah “in the middle of nowhere.” They have solar power now and will probably get wind power too. They aren’t totally off the grid, but getting there, while others around them are off the grid. The political effect if millions started doing that would be considerable indeed. What if towns and cities started doing it too. You’d start to see entirely new political structures form.

So, out of the global warming crisis, we may start to see entirely new forms of politics emerge and grow.