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The year 2016 may go down in history as a sea change in geopolitics – not least due to the decisions of voters in the United States and the United Kingdom, and what that might mean for world order. While the full nature of that change – its scale, depth and longevity – remains to be seen, it’s difficult to deny that something significant has happened. Readers of history are searching their libraries for clues from our predecessors on how best to navigate through this 21st century fog. But while history excels at issuing stern warnings to future readers, it is easy to forget that for the people in those histories, the future was unknown. The question “now what?” which lingers on many minds today, has been a perennial constant since humans were humans. Today, the answer to that question is complicated by the cacophony of the daily news cycle. Amidst the tumult of talk shows and tweets, it is difficult to remember that there is a bigger picture, never mind make sense of it. And in the mercurial world of the small picture, uncertainty and confusion reign. In such times, it is important to take stock of what we know for sure. What are the most probable trends? Which are systemic and which are temporary? What will likely remain, regardless of political dynamics? (more…)
National Geographic would like you to know that the shrinking of the Arctic sea ice is causing problems for the development of the 10th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World. In fact, one geographer with National Geographic has referred to this situation as “the biggest visible change other than the breakup of the U.S.S.R.” (more…)
For international security analysts, humanitarian operations planners, and humanitarian logisticians, the ability to identify emerging global hot spots is crucial. Over the coming months, areas such as Syria, the Crimea, Venezuela, Sudan, and the Central African Republic will no doubt make a list of potential shatter belts, complex emergencies, and geopolitical flashpoints worth monitoring. But there’s another region on the Earth’s surface that the security and humanitarian community absolutely must monitor. It’s a relatively obscure swath of ocean to the west of South America stretching into the vast Pacific. It’s the fertile ground where an El Niño event may unfold over the coming months, and the implications are significant. (more…)
Christian Le Mière, Senior Research Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and Jeffrey Mazo, Research Fellow for Environmental Security and Science Policy and Managing Editor of Survival at IISS, have just released a new book titled: Arctic Opening: Insecurity and Opportunity. It appears to be a promising read and a great addition to the literature surrounding the rapidly changing situation up in the High North. (more…)