Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 23, 2020

Egypt Is Facing Two Wars - How Will Sisi Decide?

By next month Egypt will probably be fighting two wars.


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The war to its west would be against Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) which threatens to extend itself from west Libya to the Egyptian border. The war to its south would be against Ethiopia which will soon start to fill its Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with Nil water that Egypt needs to survive.

The GNA in Libya, supported by Turkey and Qatar, wants to move out of its Tripoli and Misrata area to take Sirte and the oil installations east of it. Sirte is currently held by the Libyan National Army (LNA) under General Haftar.


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As we wrote two weeks ago:

Egypt has started to position heavy military equipment on its western border. It does not want a Muslim Brotherhood controlled Libya as its neighbor. The buffer Haftar's LNA provides is a priority for its own security. Egypt together with France, Greece, Cyprus and the UAE also rejected the Turkish aspirations in the eastern Mediterranean.

If Russia would pull back its support and completely give up on Haftar Egypt would see a necessity to intervene in Libya. A Turkish-Egyptian war on Libyan grounds would then become likely.

On Saturday the Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi inspected the troops at Egypt's western border. The highest officers of the Egyptian military were also there. The number of deployed troops shows that they mean buiness.


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Sisi threatened that Egypt would directly intervene:

In a televised address, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Sirte is a "red line" for Egypt, citing the need to protect its porous border as grounds for "direct intervention" in Libya.

"If the Libyan people asked us to intervene, it is a signal to the world that Egypt and Libya share ... common interests, security and stability," Sisi said on Saturday.

Egypt has support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. But fighting in Libya would include a war against Turkey which has troops as well as 14,000 mercenary Jihadis from Syria deployed with the GNA. A war between the two biggest armies in the eastern Mediterranean could easily escalate.

 

Next month Ethiopia will start to fill its great new dam on the Blue Nil river.


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It has been under construction since 2010 and the $4.8 billion project will turn Ethiopia into an electricity exporter. Egypt fears that the filling of the dam and its later management will leave too little water flowing down the Nil where Egypt needs it to feed its 100 million people.


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Negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia, moderated by the United States and the World Bank, have failed to find a solution. Egypt has called on (pdf, slow) the UN Security Council to intervene.

The issue is existential for both countries:

The years-long conflict pits Ethiopia's desire to become a significant power exporter in the region against Egypt's concern that the dam will significantly reduce its water supply if filled too quickly.

Egypt is expected to lose at least 22% of water flow, and is concerned that up to 30% of its agricultural land might turn into desert.

Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at the possibility of taking military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

Sudan, another party to this squabble, has long been caught between the competing interests.

The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile. Addis Ababa considers next month would be an ideal time to begin filling the dam's reservoir.

The basin was designed for a gigantic 74 billion cubic meters of water.

When finished and filled the dam will produce 6,450 MW of electrical power, more than triple as much as Ethiopia can currently generate. Much of the new generated electricity will be exported to Sudan which is the reason why Sudan has not taken Egypt's side.

No Egyptian ruler can allow a situation in which 30% of Egypt's agriculture dies off. Tens of millions of small farmers would lose their income and a famine would become a distinct possibility.

A military attack on the dam would be complex. The land route for an army attack would need to go through Sudan. It is very long and lacks infrastructure. A large scale air attack coming from the Red Sea seems to be the most likely operation. But that would be risky and would not solve Egypt's problem. The dam would be repaired and the operation would have to be repeated.

Ethiopia needs the electricity from the dam to develop the country and to pay back the loans it has taken up to build it. It wants to completely fill the dam over the next seven years. A prolongation of that time frame would lessen the immediate impact on Egypt. But Ethiopia is poor and someone else would have to pay for the losses it would incur. 

Could Egypt handle two wars at the same time? For a short period that would likely be possible. But both potential conflicts, the one in Libya and the one with Ethiopia, would likely become prolonged and would take years to settle. Egypt does not have the money to pay for them.

Sisi will now have to take quite difficult decisions. How will he decide?

Posted by b on June 23, 2020 at 17:28 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Libyan Premier Sarraj met with US Amb. to Tripoli Richard Norland and Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of US Africa Command at Zuwarah Airport a day or so ago. Evidently, the US has decided to support Libya's Government of National Accord. Doing so, the US sides with Turkey against both France and Egypt.

Posted by: bob sykes | Jun 23 2020 17:46 utc | 1

Just curious how is the tourism going on in Egypy Feb20 onwards ? Is there any official data out ? I guess without tourism revenue Egypt cant do anything much, maybe a low intensity campaign but surely it has to fold.

Posted by: KD | Jun 23 2020 18:03 utc | 2

Perpetual war against Ethiopia won't solve the issue. And the Libya conflict has a good chance of becoming frozen in its present situation. Egypt can solve its water issue with technology and Libya via diplomacy in tandem with Russia. So, no wars only jaw-jaw.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 23 2020 18:41 utc | 3

@ Posted by: KD | Jun 23 2020 18:03 utc | 2

I don't think there's tourism without water...

Posted by: vk | Jun 23 2020 18:56 utc | 4

It's interesting ... power generation is not a consumptive use of water. In other words, Aswan/Egypt will get its water for farms regardless of the existence of this new dam, once it's filled.

The question seems to be therefore the rate of filling the new dam and that time period causing critically low water flows to downstream for a temporary period of time. Surely, the two countries could come to an arrangement where Egypt pays Ethiopia for loss of electricity sales in return for a guaranteed pass through of a necessary minimum amount of water to keep the agricultural lands from desertification?

Let's pray for a few wet years and no droughts to speed up the filling process!

Posted by: Caliman | Jun 23 2020 19:33 utc | 5

There was also that report a short time ago about the water level rising well above normal due to invasive plants blocking the outflows from Lake Victoria. This will be starving the other branch of the Nile of water, compounding the potential water flow shortage problem. From memory I think it was 10 feet too high. Given the size of the Lake getting this down to normal would make a big difference in filling the new dam.

Posted by: JohninMK | Jun 23 2020 19:37 utc | 6

thank you usa and the west for turning libya into a failed state!!! kudos on that... looking after the war profiteers, but screw the planet.. impressive...

the way i see it we need some world organization that can look beyond it's own boundaries and special interests to resolve the coming problems the world faces... water and the use of water is a part of this.... the headwaters are in one country and the countries downstream are at the mercy of the one where the headwaters come from.... Euphrates - turkey.. syria, and etc. are supposed to suffer thanks turkeys specific designs... same deal in the himilayas where pakistan, china and india meet... now this... either separate countries are going to find a way to harmony and peace, or ongoing support for the war merchants, world banks, wall st and etc will continue... we need some organization that isn't serving limited self interests, but thinking about the welfare of the planet... and, we certainly don't have much in the way of leadership in the world today, especially in the west.... they all seem beholden to wall st, corporations and special interests that negate our ability to continue on planet earth..

then there is the religious aspect of all this.... no wonder so many people view religion as a sickness as opposed to something positive...

Posted by: james | Jun 23 2020 20:15 utc | 7

Libya had the “Great Manmade River Project”.The county of 25 million spent 25 billion to provide available fresh drinking water for everyone including vast farming operations ..Having an Aquifer the size of the Nile’s flow of 200 years.look at it today...bombed into dust by the U.S....forcing migration to Europe..We will bomb this too..Thank you America

Posted by: John | Jun 23 2020 20:15 utc | 8

It is not necessary to have credentials as "historian" or "expert" to be curious how a country, thousands of mils from a river's source, got/gets exclusive rights to all its water. So, here goes:

How come Egypt claims rights to all water flowing from Lake Victoria and other sources [multiple waterways join together 1,000s of miles before entering "Egypt"?

Was this the result of human intelligence? Artificial intelligence? Alien/intelligent design?

Ordinary, garden variety, everyday doodling on the back of a napkin?

Or just Cut-throat piracy via quick-n-dirty legal "arrangements" in the trade for some colored beads or s=imilar , shiny wampum?

And in what language were the transactions documented? Were the signatories [if any] or makers of "X-marks" of high integrity or...of perfidious intent?

Posted by: chu teh | Jun 23 2020 20:17 utc | 9

So the Aswan dam doesn't exist? Does Aswan generate all Egypt electricity and go dark too? There will be serious discussions and they will grumble about 7 or 10 years to fill. Then a huge monsoon season will solve their discontent.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jun 23 2020 20:52 utc | 10

Caliman | Jun 23 2020 19:33 utc | 5

"Evaporation of water from the reservoir is expected to be at 3% of the annual inflow volume" - Wikipedia.

Posted by: Keith McClary | Jun 23 2020 21:09 utc | 11

Unless something has changed in the last ~70 years, Egypt is still 'irrigating' its crops by waiting for the Nile to inundate the Nile flood-plain, as it has been doing for thousands of years.

If it hasn't already done so Egypt should revolutionise its entire agricultural sector for maximum water and economic efficiency. Although it may require ditching some traditional crops in favour of crops with a higher $ & lower gallons per acre yield, and spending money on pumps and pipes, the costs would be more predictable than those of a pointless war with Ethiopia.

It'll also make it simpler to firm up the time and $ budget for helping Russia to keep the Libya conflict frozen or so snail-paced that the backers of the fake GNA will die of boredom/ennui.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 23 2020 21:35 utc | 12

Hoarsewhisperer:

the thing that's changed is one of the world's great dams: Aswan. The Nile in Egypt is controlled now and has been since the big dam was built.

Posted by: Caliman | Jun 23 2020 21:44 utc | 13

There's also a strategic resource dimension to it. Egypt does not and will not be able to control the dam, thereby giving Ethiopia a strategic leverage over Egypt, forever.

any agreement can be reneged on. people change and so will their politics and priorities.

it can be solved in only 2 ways. either

1. via a series of co and/or contra investment where the interest of both parties are truly aligned.

2. Egypt makes it abundantly clear if any silly games are played on the dam planes and missiles will be visiting the dam. not a threat, a promise.

Posted by: A.L. | Jun 23 2020 21:49 utc | 14

Water rights are emotional, cultural and economic complexes which cannot be judged purely on the basis of "it passes through my land first, therefore it is mine" simply because doing that would destroy life for most of the world's nations. Human societies have developed over millennia on the basis of where the water has naturally flowed, changing that and reducing it down to first access owns all is a horrific example of the destructiveness of capitalism's emphasis on so-called property rights and cannot be countenanced.

If that sets the basis for the coming times where access to water is going to be tough thanks to global warming, not only most of the world's nations would be screwed, amerika for example will also be no more, when states closest to a water source deny states downstream.

A dam is like a battery, by storing this vast amount, 74 billion cubic meters Ethiopia will take that out of circulation down stream. In addition the energy expended driving turbines reduces the water flow and much of the now controlled by Ethiopia flow will be grabbed for a new Ethiopian horticulture industry rich in both water & energy, one that won't need people, just machines thanks to 'tech' destroying one of the original seats of human civilisation.
Remember that the Nile delta is the site of one of the world's first agrarian communities, humans growing food in one place rather than hunting & gathering .
People from all over Africa, doubtless including Ethiopia migrated there - this is why Egypt has by far the largest population of any ME nation. Egypt's population outstrips Turkey & Iran all other states are much smaller. the most populous of which have less than half of Egypt's population.
If Ethiopia goes ahead and the effect is as bad as Egypt claims, it doesn't matter what Sisi or any other dictator of Egypt does or says, war will be inevitable as famine and associated massive population shift overwhelm North Africa.

Posted by: A User | Jun 23 2020 22:12 utc | 15

Yes, I'm not sure airstrikes are off the table against the dam. Sure Ethiopia can rebuild but the disruption and cost (not to mention the havoc of possible dam breach) would soak up the revenue. The constant threat of strikes would undermine confidence in the dam's ongoing viability. One also should not ignore the MIC stake in Egypt using and replacing air ordnance, which I would guess the KSA would have a hand in. It is certainly a card Egypt can threaten to play without bluff.

Posted by: Patroklos | Jun 23 2020 22:23 utc | 16

Addendum: so Ethiopia should really build air defences into its construction.

Posted by: Patroklos | Jun 23 2020 22:26 utc | 17

@Patroklos 16

If they do put in AA then they would have essentially declared their intention to shaft everyone downstream. Then war will be a certainty.

Posted by: A.L. | Jun 23 2020 22:41 utc | 18

How will he decide?

Trick question? Seems that will Erdogan decide for him.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jun 23 2020 22:46 utc | 19

Egypt could go creative in a good way, I think this appeals to Egypt (and Sisi) and although I can't say if the following will be the right answer there must be other possibilities, similar or not.

Perhaps a pilot project to make something like the Qattara depression project real only instead of letting the water end in an "inverted waterfall" (a rising vapor stream) or a salt lake (an even worse idea) they could harvest and cool the naturally desalinated vapors to use for irrigation (and make that at least hydroponic if not aeroponic while they're at it so that the water is used efficiently rather than mostly thrown away). It won't run out any time soon considering the source will have to be the Mediterranean sea.

They don't need to use the Qattara depression at all but could instead do the natural desalination closer to the Mediterranean. They have plenty of sand and plenty of sun, worth a try.

Viet Nam might be able to help, and China and Russia of course, maybe also the Netherlands.

Does anyone know if such ideas are being considered in the Egyptian society? If not maybe someone can humbly suggest it? It could start out tiny to gain experience and knowledge and work out any flaws. Egypt upgraded the Suez canal, to me something like this looks tiny in comparison (but I probably wouldn't know, I'm aware ideas are deceptively easy).

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Jun 23 2020 23:31 utc | 20

Amazing that we still do not have international means to resolve these issues by plan not force. A case like this, planned ten years ago with no plan or agreement of those affected, is disgraceful.
Surely riparian rights exist under international law; what was the UN doing for the last 70 years?

Best to place all natural resources under global ownership per capita. This eliminates resource conflicts. Retain extraction facilities but contracts are via UN. That requires international support for states dependent upon the revenue; but the overall economy changes little. Some complex cases and situations to be negotiated. States that refuse can be incentivized or embargoed.

Posted by: Sam F | Jun 23 2020 23:33 utc | 21

I should think Egypt's most likely course of action with regard to the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is to put pressure on Ethiopia to fill it more slowly than Ethiopia wants to do through the UN.

While Ethiopia anticipates filling the dam within a period of 6 years, and Egypt wants a longer period of about 10 - 21 years for the dam to fill, ultimately the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and Lake Tana (where the river originates) in the Ethiopian highlands, and the prevailing climatic conditions there in the medium to long term, will determine how fast the dam fills. The Ethiopian claim of 6 years may well be overly optimistic and the figure is being used to persuade countries like Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia (potential customers for Ethiopian electricity exports) to side with the Ethiopians.

At present there is no agreement between the two sides on how fast the dam should fill. The US and the World Bank were previously mediating between the two sides. Looks like this dispute will have to go before the UN.

Posted by: Jen | Jun 24 2020 0:04 utc | 22

2. Egypt makes it abundantly clear if any silly games are played on the dam planes and missiles will be visiting the dam. not a threat, a promise.
Posted by: A.L. | Jun 23 2020 21:49 utc | 13

Egypt would be sitting in a glass house if bombing the dam is her option unless she uses internal and external terrorists. Sisi would be fooling himself. Sisi opted for outside forces (USA and Arab League) to intercede/ interfere instead of negotiations. Rather, Trump inserted himself in this while Putin was dealing with it and Egypt revealed its hand. After one or two attempts at negotiations, the USA took Egypt's side. It could not be a fair arbiter. Ethiopia rejected it. That's why Egypt is resorted to threats. It is dealing with a country that woke up and wants to use its vital resources by playing fairly. Egypt is stuck with colonial Anglo agreements it had signed without Ethiopia. Ethiopia made it clear it considers Egypt's interests and is not out to hurt anyone. But Egypt wouldn't play. It is getting too greedy. I doubt Egypt has any options except negotiations. War would be a fool's errand.

Posted by: Tikursew | Jun 24 2020 0:08 utc | 23

i'll never forget travelling in india 20 years ago and finding out how coca cola had bought up a lot of the water rights, as if this is something that it'is cool to privatize and control via a private corporation - subject to shareholders - wall st and etc... a user @14 is right - we need to figure out how to get beyond this insanity if we are going to make it on the planet..

Posted by: james | Jun 24 2020 1:24 utc | 24

War, war, everywhere. What have we become? Imbeciles who can’t negotiate treaties?
More and more, the world is seen in a binary lense. If there can’t be a resolution, WAR. Let’s jump each other, because, well, we’ve just gotta, jump each other.

The solution to the southern problem, is, removal of the US as a moderator between the negotiating parties. Egypt, as a vassal state does what US wants anyway.
US can’t even get it’s own house in order, so much for others.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tri-state_water_dispute


The tri-state water dispute is a 21st-century water-use conflict among the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida over flows in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has regulated water flow for the entire Chattahoochee River, from Lake Lanier in Forsyth County, Georgia, to Alabama and Florida.

As for the western solution, a resource conflict is already underway. I won’t call it a war, as a war needs well established opposing side, and this is just a free for all. Pigs at the trough, I think is the associated idiom. It will settle bloodily over time.
Perhaps the jihadis’ from one side can fight the jihadis’ from the other. Now, that would be a coup.

So, please, let’s cool it with the war talk!
As humans, we have to think our solutions, not in the way of W-43 — you are with us, or you are against us — binary, black and white, but more nuanced, perhaps like, what’s common in baseball — a three team deal, with a player to be named later. Very much gray/grey as humans should be.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | Jun 24 2020 1:41 utc | 25

Egypt will likely do nothing militarily on the Southern "front". The immediate threat is coming from the Western border. It's too bad Egypt sat on it's ass for this long before doing anything about it. They would have a total of 17 years to make preparations. The Qattara depression project is an interesting idea, and an old one, which I'm surprised no one has taken up the idea. Although it would not address the negative impact on their agriculture sector, it would at least provide power generation. Labor wouldn't be a problem as I'm sure the Chinese can easily meet this demand with 5G automated drones. They're already pushing out remote controlled via 5G farm tractors.

We're going to see more water wars in the future. The conflict between China and India right now are similar to the Egyptian-Ethiopian one.

Posted by: Ian2 | Jun 24 2020 2:09 utc | 26

Building a dam without agreement with a downstream nations? Darling China has done worse than that: building a dam while denying they were doing it. Later on plan 3 more. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zangmu_Dam#Downstream_concerns

China has taken De-Nile to a whole new level.

Posted by: Antonym | Jun 24 2020 2:17 utc | 27

@#6

One thing to keep in mind: 85% of the Nile's water comes from the Blue Nile--only 15% from the White Nile which is much shallower and slower flowing.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 24 2020 2:38 utc | 28

@#26

Turkey has done the same thing on the Tigris and Euphrates.

Once upon a time, it was the downstream countries with their huge agricultural output that were the major powers. Now, with dam technology, it's the upstream countries that have the power.

China has dammed the Mekong. Will be quite something if they ever dam the Brahmaputra.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 24 2020 2:44 utc | 29

@#25

Actually, I think the likeliest water war involving India is with Pakistan. The Indus, the main part of which runs through Pakistan, and most of its tributaries rise in Indian territory.

The Brahmaputra rises in Tibet and could be dammed perhaps, although I don't know whether the geography of Tibet makes it very beneficial to China or not. If they did, it would be a big problem for India but a bigger one for Bangladesh.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jun 24 2020 2:48 utc | 30

It is ludicrous to compare the 500Mega Watt Zengu dam with the 45 Giga Watt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Zengu dam is smaller than the Manapouri project commissioned in Aotearoa in the early 1960's, China is being careful to extract hydro energy in small stages spread over hundreds of kilometres. because they want to minimise the impact on water flow,so not only is dragging Zengu into the discussion off topic and 100% remote from the issue of whether Egypt intends to go to war; including it is irrational.
This is yet another example of India's low self esteem exploding into resentment when compared to China. Indians have been indoctrinated into these fallacious beliefs about China by their own corrupt political system which is desperate to discourage Indians from asking the question. "Why is it that China, a famine ridden, feudal society with even worse live expectancy than India 70 years ago, is now doing so much better across all economic & social indicators?"

Even old blind Freddie can see the answer to that, it is so obvious. India continued with its exploitative class system and rolled it into deplorable institutionalised corruption. The hand of the caste system works with the hand of entitled corruption to ensure only a tiny cabal ever benefit. Inculcating antipathy towards China is one of the primary methods of distracting Jayesh Patel from that reality.

Posted by: A User | Jun 24 2020 5:02 utc | 31

@ A User 30:

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam can in the future maximum generate 6.45 GW, not 45 GW. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_hydroelectric_power_stations
Ludicrous inaccuracy.

No class in the world is as all powerful as the CCP top. Example; the Chinese CIA&FBI, the MMS doesn't have the country's symbol/ Logo, but the party's : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_State_Security_(China)

Posted by: Antonym | Jun 24 2020 6:09 utc | 32

6.45GW is still a whole order of magnitude larger than 500MW.

dragging CCP into this just exposes the weakness of your argument.

Posted by: A.L. | Jun 24 2020 7:41 utc | 33

From Wikipedia, the dam itself is being financed by bonds allegedly taken up by Ethiopians. It has been built by an Italian construction company. The turbines and associated electrics are being provided and financed by Chinese companies to the tune of some £3.8 billion. Egypt is backed by US, Ethiopia by China. Proxy war possibility? Or can the Russians dissuade the Egyptians?

Posted by: Phil Espin | Jun 24 2020 7:58 utc | 34

@ A.L. 32

India continued with its exploitative class system wrote A User. I haven't discovered that mysterious class system the last 27 years living here: A User has a vivid imagination.
FYI: the small group of Brahmins today have little power due to other groups getting positively discriminated by law for public handouts; many are poor. Only due to IT some have managed to improve their lives on merit in the private sector.

Posted by: Antonym | Jun 24 2020 8:18 utc | 35

As is often the case with the Moon of Alabama blog ecological issues like climate change are not to be found as part of an otherwise informative analysis. This is particularly important in this case because recent studies show that future hot and dry years are likely to worsen Nile basin water scarcity. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019EF001247

Posted by: Brian Davey | Jun 24 2020 10:07 utc | 36

Right here is where I found:

"The dam was originally called "Project X", and after its contract was announced it was called the Millennium Dam.[19] On 15 April 2011, the Council of Ministers renamed it Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.[20] Ethiopia has a potential for about 45 GW of hydropower.[21] The dam is being funded by government bonds and private donations. It was slated for completion in July 2017.[13]"

But as your entire riff has been talking nonsense I guess that even if your figure was right which I don't believe it is, the fact remains that there is more than an order of magnitude difference between the output of Ethiopian dam and that of the Zengu dam but don't let me stop you dribbling nonsense, because that appears to be all you can bring here - Indian fascist indoctrination of the same shallow belief system I have heard so many Indian students blather. I ignored their tossage in class but I'm buggered if I'll do it here.

Posted by: A User | Jun 24 2020 10:37 utc | 37

The entire planet is entering a fresh water crisis and no, technology won't mitigate it. Growth is murdering the planet and all life on it. Kudos to Michael Moore & Jeff Gibbs, per their Planet of the Humans documentary, for shedding light on the hypocrisy of the liberals/progressives with their Green New Deal bullshit. We can't grow our way out of this planetary crisis because the root of the problem is growth. The only way to navigate the imminent collapse is to manage it as best we can via a planned global contraction, but we all know that will never and could never happen. It is impossible. This is the tragic conundrum of being human. We are conscious and cognizant of what we're doing. That our way of life is species suicide and yet we cannot stop ourselves. We are the dumbest smart species of all time. We are so smart, we're dumb.

Take a look at communism in China. Looks like growth-addicted capitalism to me. The poison of growth has spread to every nook and cranny of the planet. Humans will consume the planet until there is nothing left to exploit. Technology only serves to hasten the carnage.

Note the meager living arrangements for the help. What would Mao say? I know what he'd say. He'd say it's time for another Cultural Revolution — another Purge.

$30,000,000 (USD) Apartment in Shenzhen - Tour Inside

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 12:33 utc | 38

Whole Ethiopia has a potential for about 45 GW of hydropower but your own link says in the 6th line from the top: At 6.45 gigawatts, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, as well as the seventh largest in the world..
GER Dam =/ whole Ethiopia.

Posted by: Antonym | Jun 24 2020 12:39 utc | 39

@ Posted by: Brian Davey | Jun 24 2020 10:07 utc | 36

If Africa wants to ever become something resembling a developed continent, it will have to electrify. There's simply no other way with the technology we have today. And just produce electricity is not enough: it will have to produce a lot of electricity, so that it is cheap enough everybody can have it (not only people, but businesses and secondary government infrastructure). That means those farces like solar panels and bio-fuel are also out of the picture.

Bill Gates and Hollywood stars donating anti-malaria veils, bottled water and food won't do it. Greenpeace and its bullshit also won't do it. Only the national governments, with the weight and authority of the State, can do it.

Posted by: vk | Jun 24 2020 13:42 utc | 40

One of the reasons Planet of the Humans was censored is because the likes of vk @40 using it to excoriate environmentalism in general and promote further growth. Bill Gibbs and Michael Moore make it clear that growth is what is murdering the entire planet and that the Green New Deal is not only not the answer but instead is a farce. Alt-Right white nationalists have tried to usurp Michael Moore's and Bill Gibbs' message and have used the Planet of the Humans documentary to score ideological points against their tribal enemies. Many of the Chinese, North Korean, Israeli and Russian operatives who work the comment sections of most blogs are not interested in living in harmony with the living planet. They want growth every bit as much as any capitalist wants growth. They just want it on their terms.

Only the national governments, with the weight and authority of the State, can do it.

This is code for "only the multi-national corporations that own the national governments, with the weight and authority of the State, can do it."

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 13:59 utc | 41

Fixating on "too much growth" is what obese people who are only 4% of the world's population but consume a quarter of the world's resources worry about. When you cut your resource footprint down to Ethiopian, or even Egyptian, levels then you have room to bitch about "too much growth". Until then this "too much growth" argument coming from the culturally obese is disgusting.

It is very true that western "consumerism" is disgusting and is justly criticized. Building infrastructure and housing and the basics of modern life for Chinese families (and Ethiopian families) is something nobody from those "consumer" societies has any place criticizing, though.

The "Haves" telling the "Have-nots" that they must tighten their belts and sacrifice? That is truly despicable.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jun 24 2020 14:14 utc | 42

Nice try, @42, in trying to disguise your African resource grab under the aegis of development for Africans and then attempting to pin the growth squarely on consumers rather than the wealthy extractive elite and their transnational corporations. Last time I looked, China has surpassed America in consumers and consumerist culture and the Indians are not too far behind. Those two countries combined account for more than a quarter of the world's overpopulation. Like I said, a managed global contraction to a steady state is impossible at this point. William Gruff is case in point as to why it's impossible.

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 14:31 utc | 43

I reside in the West, in America in fact, and the vast majority of people I know and encounter, 99% of them if not more, are not worried about "too much growth." In fact, when I mention growth to them as the root of the problem, it simply doesn't compute. They cannot grasp the simple concept and those who at least try, end up becoming defensive and go out of their way to defend growth by issuing proclamations like "we'll innovate our way out of this environmental crisis."

Fyi, many of them are obese. I, on the other hand, am not. Far from it. Also, fyi, per the link I provided above, look at that apartment complex parking garage in Shenzhen. Those poor starving Chinese people. The hardship they must endure and then the insult on top of injury of someone like me trying to deprive them of their growth. It's so insensitive of me, isn't it? Everyone should have a Bentley afterall, or a McLaren. Africans too. And Martians if there are any when we start terraforming that dead planet. Our purpose, apparently and obviously, is to develop the universe, not just the planet, until there is no universe left to develop. And then it's on to the next universe. That's why we've hired the cosmologists afterall — so they can theorize about multiple parallell universes in need of development so we can develop infinitely and forever per our coding.

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 14:46 utc | 44

I fear vk and William Gruff are behind the times – the very concept of Africa becoming a “developed continent” is outdated now that the global economy has reached the limits of economic growth and overshot the carrying capacity of the ecological system...or at least the idea of “development” needs a radical overhaul. "Fixation" in this case means recognising that further development does more harm than it yields any benefits.

This is nothing like the "haves" telling the "have nots" to tighten their belts (my income is £11,000 pa Mr Gruff, what's yours?).

In the context of further growth doing more damage than it yields in benefits is a recognition that the larger the scale of so called "development projects" the larger are what economists call “external social and environmental costs”. Indeed with big dam projects it has long been noticed that costs exceed benefits. A recent study of big dams in PNAS found that

“Big dams stopped being built in developed nations, because the best sites for dams were already developed and environmental and social concerns made the costs unacceptable. Nowadays, more dams are being removed in North America and Europe than are being built. The hydropower industry moved to building dams in the developing world and since the 1970s, began to build even larger hydropower dams along the Mekong River Basin, the Amazon River Basin, and the Congo River Basin. The same problems are being repeated: disrupting river ecology, deforestation, losing aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, releasing substantial greenhouse gases, displacing thousands of people, and altering people’s livelihoods plus affecting the food systems, water quality, and agriculture near them. This paper studies the proliferation of large dams in developing countries and the importance of incorporating climate change into considerations of whether to build a dam along with some of the governance and compensation challenges. We also examine the overestimation of benefits and underestimation of costs along with changes that are needed to address the legitimate social and environmental concerns of people living in areas where dams are planned. Finally, we propose innovative solutions that can move hydropower toward sustainable practices together with solar, wind, and other renewable sources.”

https://www.pnas.org/content/115/47/11891

Posted by: Brian Davey | Jun 24 2020 14:49 utc | 45

As far as I'm concerned, @42 may as well be Paul Novak, someone I'm very familiar with, in fact. Novak would argue, and use the same reasoning, as @42 is doing. Ripping off Africa and the planet under the aegis of egalitarian development.

This bastard is still at it per my latest inquiries. He hasn't learned his lesson and he wasn't set back despite a little jail time.

Novak Jailed In Willbros Case

A former consultant for pipeline contractor Willbros International Inc. was sentenced Friday for his role in a scheme to pay more than $6 million in bribes to government and political party officials in Nigeria.

Paul G. Novak, 46, was ordered to serve 15 months in prison. He appeared in federal court in Texas.

Novak was also ordered to pay a $1 million fine and serve two years of supervised release following his release from prison.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and one substantive FCPA offense.

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 15:00 utc | 46

@ Posted by: Brian Davey | Jun 24 2020 14:49 utc | 45

It is a myth Africa is some kind of idyllic paradise, i.e. that its underdevelopment comes strictly from the fact Africa still lives in the Stone Age.

Africa's underdevelopment is not decelerating the Earth's degradation. On the contrary: many of the key ingredients of the First World's comfortable and opulent lifestyle comes from very ecologically degrading activities in Africa (essentially mining, but many other activities).

Keeping Africa poor will not decelerate the destruction of our biosphere.

You know what would solve our ecological problems? The First World (USA, Europe and Japan) to destroy themselves. I'll only take the Greens seriously when they actively and publicly propose the destruction of the First World lifestyle: give up your technology, destroy your roads, destroy your coal plants, destroy your nuclear power plants, go back to a primitive agrarian economic system.

If the First Worlders don't give up their own opulence, all this Green claptrap will continue to look like what it is: pure bullshit.

Posted by: vk | Jun 24 2020 15:15 utc | 47

I think I will add here some supplementary material to bolster my earlier comment that MoA, although being extremely informative, does not relate conflicts and political developments to the crises at the limits to economic growth.

One example of an excellent scholar and activist who does understand these connections in great depth is Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed – for example his book “Failing States, Collapsing Systems. BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence” Springer 2017. The book has a chapter of BioPhysical Triggers of Crisis Convergence in the Middle East and another on the same themes in Africa.

He shows that climate change has created the context for droughts and the devastation of agriculture in some countries with displacement of people and political conflict – this happened for example in Syria shortly before the conflict broke out.

In an ironic parallel process to climate change fossil fuel depletion has raised the costs of oil and gas extraction and in many of the same countries hit by climate change - like Nigeria, Syria, the Yemen. As these countries derived much of their foreign exchange reserves and state revenue from oil this crippled their ability to respond to the climate crisis.Thus oil production in Syria and Yemen were declining before the conflicts broke out.

This is not to deny that the interventions of the USA, UK, Israel and Saudi have been devastating and prevented countries like Syria and the Yemen getting to grips with the climate crisis.

That has happened – but there are solutions for agriculture in conditions of extreme drought using ecological design techniques like permaculture – however they never get a chance with the ruling elites of the imperialist countries and the Gulf Monarchies set on interfering in other countries.

Sadly these ruling elites are not the only people oblivious to the ecological, energetic and biophysical dimensions of the linked crises. So too are many old Marxists with their outdated views on “development”.

Posted by: Brian Davey | Jun 24 2020 15:16 utc | 48

The division becomes clear, Whose side do u choose ?
the white hats; democratic and muslim brotherhood: qatar, turkey, yemen, the people of egypt and libya, ethiopia.
the black hats; dictators using religious terrorist or secular people to divide: dictators in egypt, uae, sa, haftar and israel and maybe france/uk.

undecided: sudan, algeria, russia, china and the usa.

There will be no war for water in the south, only a softpower war.

Posted by: mckinnon | Jun 24 2020 15:22 utc | 49

As I stated, only the obese pine for "managed globe-shaped contraction" and are the ones least willing to make the sacrifices within themselves to achieve it. Instead they demand it of others.

Human history has been one of constantly increasing the carrying capacity of humanity's environment. Agriculture and industry changed the landscape from one in which bands of proto-humans wandered about the natural world as any other animal and exploited whatever resources they could find into a world where resources are managed. Instead of bands of proto-humans fighting each other over naturally occurring foodstuffs, they invested labor to increase the yield of those foodstuffs from nature. While the conflicts over resources remained and the social skills to collectively manage those resources lagged being the skills to enhance the productiveness of those resources, the productiveness of human-managed resources dramatically improved yields nonetheless, allowing millions to thrive off of lands that could previously only support hundreds.

That is what economic growth brings. The problem is not with economic growth itself but with unrestrained, cancer-like capitalist "consumer" growth in which one small portion of the global population rapes the rest of the world's resources to feed its own gluttony. With consciously and conscientiously managed growth there is no reason our planet cannot support several times the current population in comfort.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jun 24 2020 15:30 utc | 50

Economic growth equals destruction of the planet no matter who's doing it and which paradigm administers it. All economic growth is capitalism. The Russians are capitalists. The Chinese are capitalists. Hell, the North Koreans are capitalists. So too are the corrupt Africans in charge of the various African nations.

Exponential Economist Meets Finite Physicist

Fyi, those who promote endless economic growth under the aegis of development are anti-science and are as much fantasists as are Evangelical Christians and their "God will provide."

Before we tackle that, we’re too close to an astounding point for me to leave it unspoken. At that 2.3% growth rate, we would be using energy at a rate corresponding to the total solar input striking Earth in a little over 400 years. We would consume something comparable to the entire sun in 1400 years from now. By 2500 years, we would use energy at the rate of the entire Milky Way galaxy—100 billion stars! I think you can see the absurdity of continued energy growth. 2500 years is not that long, from a historical perspective. We know what we were doing 2500 years ago. I think I know what we’re not going to be doing 2500 years hence.

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 16:16 utc | 51

the way i understand this growth thing is what i get from the natural world.... things grow and things decay.. there is a balance of sorts... when we give our reality over to economists and there dream of a constantly expanding growth concept - it doesn't make sense to me from what i observe in the natural world.. it is true you can make something that lasts a lot longer then something from nature - plastic for example - and you hope that it can retain its value... look at all the nukes that were made in the previous 50 years.. are they still good to go? have they retained their value? the value of injecting fear into other countries without them? maybe... anyway - this is just my subjective viewpoint... the other thing - when a small percent have so much of the financial wealth and control over the globes resources - i don't care what nationality they are - something is really wrong in that picture for me as well... it is unsustainable as i see it..

i do recall i had a similar conversation on the issue of population control and i was told how i was sharing a nazi, or rothchild concept.. that was news to me.. i was speaking without knowing about any of this, but just from the point of view that certain things look unsustainable to me...

Posted by: james | Jun 24 2020 16:23 utc | 52

Of course, economic development cannot proceed without weaponry. The two go together like a horse and carriage or love and marriage. China should call it the Belt and Road and Debt and Weapons Initiative. China is using the same playbook the West uses. Its called capitalism and capitalism is predicated on endless economic development/growth.

Is">https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1000&context=sigs_facpub">Is China Playing a Contradictory Role in Africa? Security Implications of its Arms Sales and Peacekeeping

This article offers a critical analysis of the conflict and regional security implications of one of the strategies (arms sales) utilized by China to expand and consolidate its presence in Africa. This worrying trend is juxtaposed against its equally increasing peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities in post-conflict states within the continent. The analysis, accordingly, argues that the simultaneous growth in the scope of arms transfers and increase in contributions to peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities is tantamount to a contradictory policy toward Africa. Arms sales to African states encourage some incumbent regimes to maintain their despotic and oppressive rule thereby increasing the probability of violent conflicts between regimes and opposition groups. Small arms also prolong civil wars because of the easy access to them. While Chinese arms have been implicated in many conflicts in Africa, China at the same time is also enhancing African Union peacekeeping activities through generous financial donations as well as participation in humanitarian assistance, national police training, and resettlement of ex-combatants, among other activities. The question is, why does China pursue these seemingly antithetical policies within Africa? Or, why does China play this contradictory role contrary to its narrative of noninterference in the internal affairs of other states?

For a long time, arms transfers to Africa have been dominated by the US, Britain, France, and Russia (Grant 2012; Pierre, 1982. However, recent trends in Chinese industrialization and China’s growing scope of political, economic, and diplomatic activities may suggest that a fundamental shift in arms transfers to Africa may be occurring that, over time, could have important consequences for increased internal wars or peacekeeping operations in the continent.

The literature on arms transfers has long suggested that arms transfers to developing countries tend to widen the scope of violence and even intensify or increase the duration of wars thereby making the maintenance of peace more difficult (Klare 2014; Sanders 1990; Schelling 2008). At times bilateral arms transfer relationships take the added form of arms production, whereby the supplier sets up arms production facilities in the recipient country.

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 17:04 utc | 53

Seems not enough here are versed in Veblen's Conspicuous Consumption, which stands tall behind Gruff's argument. As For technology mitigating the effect on Egyptian agriculture, drip irrigation combined with laser leveling of fields will markedly decrease water usage and costs while increasing yields. Also changing the types of crops grown will also save on water cost--stop growing cotton and return to flax for example. Most importantly, individual nation-based development plans need to morph into regional development plans based on watersheds since those almost always transcend national borders. African borders are the most artificial of all since they were imposed by Colonial parasites. There are several very distinctive geographies within the African continent that will require different developmental strategies. African polities must deal with those differences and make their plans without input from the former parasites. Both Russia and China are involved with African development and bring a collective solutions mindset focusing on Win-Win versus Africa's 200+ years of Zero-sum parasitic exploitation that is now rightfully rejected. Zero-sum can only operate for a short time before it's rejected and Win-Win takes its place.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24 2020 17:34 utc | 54

"All economic growth is capitalism."

And here I was thinking that we were not dealing with the class clown. It is disappointing to be so wrong.

Humans have been growing their economic activities since our species transitioned from animal to something that could be called human. That has nothing to do with who owns productive capital.

Try not to think of stock markets and dollar values when thinking of economic activity. Instead think of growing a potato plant or building a chair or assembling a smartphone. Capitalism is just an arrangement whereby someone else owns the tools you need to do those things and so gets the product of your labor and you just supply the labor for a fee that is always less than the value of what you produce. There is nothing universal about that and it certainly isn't a necessary ingredient for economic growth. Recognizable economic activity preceded capitalism (and grew dramatically in that span) by hundreds of thousands of years.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jun 24 2020 17:49 utc | 55

Karlofi @ 54 & Gruff @ 55
You both will have seen the vid link below, but your comments reminded me of this link.
It is a vid that I found right here from ‘Daniel ‘ much respect to him for supplying it.
I’v used it a lot and past it on, I can’t tell you the affect it has had on countless people !
Grown men have been known to cry !
Different part of Africa but still relevant to Africa and the rest of the world should heed and heed well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfnruW7yERA

About 20 minutes long.
Some new folk here my Learn from it.

Posted by: Mark2 | Jun 24 2020 18:41 utc | 56

William Gruff @55--

Quite correct! Fulfilling a need is an economic activity by definition since that's what such activity's all about. Homo Erectus figured out how to make fire and fashion tools 2+ million years ago. Hell, even the various hominids that preceded H. Erectus knew how to fashion tools to exploit their environment to fulfill needs, which would make the the basics of economics as old as anthropology--6-7 million years old given recent discoveries.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24 2020 18:42 utc | 57

@53 450.org... what i find challenging is accepting the words of some prof at a university in florida over what china is or isn't doing... the main reason is i don't know how neutral his funding is and generally i find the 'for profit motive' skews the view often times...

@ 55 wg... i agree with your description there....

Posted by: james | Jun 24 2020 19:09 utc | 58

We're not talking about economic growth for all of human history, we're talking about economic growth now and its current and future implications. ALL economic growth NOW is capitalism and yes, this includes China and Russia.

James, I'll take the physics teacher over the economist any day of the week or any month of the year let alone any hour of the day.

China has been experiencing incredible economic growth for the past several decades and it has come at an enormous cost to the planet just as all previous historical economic growth for all humans has had a cumulative destructive effect on the planet. Laying the current calamity at the doorstep of historical colonialists is a day late and a dollar short, especially when you consider China and India and their combined destructive effect on the environment that is in process and only promises to get worse — much worse. It's sickening to witness apologia for this and to watch as the impact of that is marginalized and dismissed.

I, in turn, am NOT providing apologia for historical and/or contemporary colonialists. All colonialism was/is exploitative and extractive and destructive to the environment as is global industrial trade.

China and Russia don't get a pass. Neither does India or any industrialized nation. All contribute to this morass.

China's Economic Growth Is Murdering The Planet

What China says and what China does are often two very different things. It claims it is turning into an ecological economy while planning huge economic developments. That would make the Chinese the first people ever to have their cake and eat it, which, of course, is not going to happen. Economic growth always means environmental loss.

For 25 years it did not pass any meaningful environmental protection laws while existing laws were poorly enforced. It only began to act because the situation had become so desperate that even its brainwashed people were becoming restless, being killed by air pollution at a rate of more than 1 million a year.

Although China is being forced into doing something about its ruined environment, this does not mean that it has suddenly turned into a devoted conservationist.

When the Chinese government says it's scrapping 100 coal-fired power stations, it does not mention that it won't stop private companies from building them.

When it boasts that it has started massive reforestation it forgets to say that many of its grandiose, but ill-conceived, schemes have failed miserably, that most of the so-called reforestation means plantations with little or no ecological value and that it has boosted its imports of timber from other countries, often by illegal logging of mature, and ecologically valuable, forests.

Most telling of all is Xi's announcement that China is going to push ahead with its economic developments. That is impossible without grievous harm to the environment. In other words China is not really solving its environmental problems, but merely passing them on to the rest of the world.


Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 19:35 utc | 59

William Gruff@ 50

I don't disagree with your analysis of conspicuous consumption what I do disagree with is the complete absence of a consideration of energy and the negative impact of ecological disruption from land use change in your broad brush economic history claiming that humanity can increase carrying capacity.

Modern agri-business controlled monocultures uses about 10 calories of energy to plough, sow, fertilise, irrigate, pest control, harvest, store, process, transport, slaughter, freeze/chill, cook what is cultivated for every 1 calorie that goes in your mouth.

Likewise the rest of the productive economy is embodied and embedded in the material world and is also an energy system. For example climate change is having and will have real world physical impacts like droughts and flooding which brings down crop yields. At the same time the depletion of fossil fuels and the resort to renewables is actually leading to increasing energy and material input costs – in the 1960s the global energy cost of energy was less than 2%. By the end of the century it was 3.5% and now it is about 8%. This has real world effects.

A modern economy consists mostly of human guided machines, equipment, vehicles, appliances, structures and infrastructures – nearly all of which are powered and/or require energy to construct and maintain them. The productive power of a modern economy is because of the energy that flows through this system. Work has a meaning in physics as well as in economics, and the work that an averagely fit person can do with their muscles is about 3kWh a day – but the energy flowing through the machines of the European economy is over 100 times this per capita and over 200 times this per capita in the USA. However some of the energy must be devoted to the extraction, refining, delivery and the conversions of the energy system itself. When this proportion goes up from less than 2% to 8% then the energy delivered to the rest of the economy falls from 98% to 92%…..and counting.

The idea that the carrying capacity expands with human ingenuity also flies in the face of ecological footprint analysis, a methodology devised by Matthias Wakernagel. This is the amount of biologically active land and sea needed to provide the resources and absorb the wastes and pollution of current lifestyles. Using this measure we know that the global economic system is using land and sea as if we had 1.7 planets. Of course we have only 1 and the 0.7 planet is a measure of overshoot. It’s a measure of the amount we are overusing the biosphere and degrading it – producing climate change and species extinction. An analogy from economics would be consuming more than income by running down savings, running up debts and not maintaining the windows and roof that are about to fall in
So the global economy is TOO BIG. Yes it is too big because of the lifestyle of the rich - but it is too big. So it must be shrunk - and that means shrinking the lifestyle of the rich first and foremost.

Posted by: Brian Davey | Jun 24 2020 20:01 utc | 60

China is America 2.0 when it comes to industry and globalization. The Chinese are every bit the consumers Americans are and were, plus 10% or more. Note that Brian's comment mentions America and Europe. He conveniently ignores the ten thousand pound elephant in the room — China. And its burgeoning consumer culture society.

Buying to Survive: Why China Isn’t Ready to Abandon Consumerism

Sometimes, it seems as though consumer culture has lobotomized us. It’s as though China’s middle class is increasingly besieged, weighed down by financial pressures and familial obligations, even as the communities that once existed to help us through tough times erode. The act of buying things offers us a break — a precious relief from our lonely lives, our crippling debts, and a world verging on ecological collapse — even as each purchase brings us one step closer to the brink of financial and environmental ruin.

Consumption has become a psychological crutch. Unfortunately, this means we must tread softly when trying to tackle the problem. Any solution that begins by blaming shoppers or condemning them for not caring enough about the environment will fall on deaf ears. Worse, it might compound the problem, stressing listeners out to the point that they’ll instinctively reach for their wallets, just like I did in Xi’an.

For decades prior to the reform and opening-up period that began in the late ’70s, China didn’t really have a consumer culture. Our ability to buy and own what we wanted was tightly controlled by the state. When it lifted these controls, the act of buying naturally became associated with freedom. Suddenly, to consume was to be liberated. Four decades on, however, we’re realizing that we’ve simply exchanged one master for another.

Prior to opening-up, we were called upon to work for the country; today we’re constantly pressured — by the media, by our peers, and by the government — to spend for it. Somehow, it’s become our civic duty to boost China’s economy with meaningless purchases, all in the name of helping the country navigate its bumpy transition from a manufacturing-based economy to one centered around consumption. This pressure is no more omnipresent than in early November, when seemingly everyone is counting down the days until Nov. 11 — China’s largest online shopping day.

Posted by: 450.org | Jun 24 2020 20:29 utc | 61

If Egypt is using the US as a comparison they can see the writing on the wall. The mighty Colorado River running through the West is dammed and siphoned off before getting to Mexico where they only get a trickle of whats left. Universal right to natural flowing water should be the first law of any society not might makes right.

Posted by: Tobi | Jun 24 2020 20:33 utc | 62

Brian Davey @60--

Much of what you review we discussed at The Oil Drum blog from 2005-2013 when we closed shop. We debated Overshoot and the collapse of complex societies along with ways to deal with energy's #1 issue--inefficiency--and its #2--lack of equitable distribution and related overreliance on hydrocarbons. Inefficiency in most respects is structural and reflects ill-designed infrastructure and urban planning--buildings being the greatest users of energy but have the potential to become energy neutral or even net producers. Likewise, the arrangement of human habitations are also very inefficient. Both inefficiencies combined take up a huge amount of carrying capacity that we no longer have, although they can be greatly improved. The issue then becomes the need to refrain from utilizing the regained carrying capacity as with Jevons Paradox and continue to chip away at the problem until we're no longer in an Overshoot condition. Intimately connected to Overshoot is Overpopulation. As Reg Morrison argues in Spirit in the Gene, humans are their own worst enemies and in that respect closely resemble lemmings and other "Plague Species"; if so, do we possess the intellect and ability to first recognize we're headed for an abyss and second to halt the headlong rush over the edge. Most oblivious to all that are the parasites busily feeding on the host that happens to be a major part of the problem as they keep the previous inefficiencies from being properly and timely addressed.

As the Club of Rome noted in 1972, the question in its essence is political. The UN's 2030 Development Goals focus on 17 main sustainable development goals and are being followed by the vast majority of the Global South. Lurking in the shadows is the realization that humans will need to adapt to a condition known as Steady-State if they want to continue as a species. But the primary issue isn't energy; it's carrying capacity and the absolute requirement for humans to reduce overshoot to a point where an accommodation's reached with the biota and all can coexist. The shrillness and hyperbole exhibited by 450.org is an attempt to say humans don't have the luxury of time to deal with their core problem anymore, but its efforts will fall on deaf ears in the Global South since it's the North that caused the problem and refuses to deal with it in a responsible manner as proven since 1972. The political fight means defeating Neoliberalism and dethroning the Rentier Class Parasites then devising policies of adaptation.

Time now becomes part of the issue. In 2016, myself and many others felt 2020 would be the year of Neoliberalism's defeat. That probably won't happen and we must now aim for 2024. COVID-19 pandemic produced a startling fact: Despite the great and almost immediate fall in global economic activity, temperatures and CO2 emissions continued to rise proving that at some future point a massive imposition of austerity must occur or the worst possible climate change scenarios will become the norm.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 24 2020 22:05 utc | 63

"All economic growth is capitalism."

No it's a way of economic "growth" with the unfortunate side effects of stealing the wealth you produce, depriving day after day yourself of your rights and possibly paying you less and less.Ah you can still have the money to eat and survive and make a mortgage that will bind you to banks all your life.

Posted by: LuBa | Jun 25 2020 10:03 utc | 64

regarding that Ethiopian dam, that has been something i've been following for some time

a) while it is disproportionate in size relative to its power output
(70+ cubic km of water to generate 6000 MW of electrical power)
that is nothing compared to the Aswan dam (150 cubic km of water to generate 2100 MW of electrical power)

b)water losses due to evaporation from the 2 reservoirs (Egyptian vs Ethiopian)
are probably going to be considerably greater from the Egyptian one as opposed to the Ethiopian one (after all Lake Aswan does cover a much larger surface area)

so the Ethiopian dam (and var dams in Sudan) does a better job of water conservation.

c) ps notwithstanding political differences between Ethiopia and Sudan, this dam has the potential to more closely align the interests of these 2 countries towards each other.

ie Ethiopian water used to provide water for irrigation in Sudan (and relief from floods)

the dam is right on the border between these 2 countries.

think that reason c) alone might be the major reason why the Egyptians are so against it

ps once upon a time (early 1980s) there was a project called the Jonglei canal
that was being undertaken which would have also done a similar job (irrigated water from River Nile to help agriculture in Sudan.

project abandoned due to civil war, and never to see the light of day ever again

pps currently seems the Egyptians and Ethiopians are talking up the chances of conflict between the 2 for some months now.
don't bet on it.. the differences between the 2 are not as irreconcilable as they would have us belief.
ie there will eventually be some sort of agreement sooner or later

Posted by: chris m | Jun 25 2020 20:37 utc | 65

@ 59 - 450.org... okay, thanks..

Posted by: james | Jun 25 2020 23:38 utc | 66

· Drip irrigation is a very good additional suggestion.

· Evaporation from dams is solved or significantly lessened from other dams using floating solar panels but other floating cover would also work or simply rafts.

· Thank you for your insight Chris M.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Jun 26 2020 18:23 utc | 67

Very interesting report and discussion as usual on this great site.
A thought occurred to me. I didn't notice any mention of the huge threat that Ethiopia would hold over Egypt once their new dam is filled. They could massively flood Egypt anytime they want to pay the price of the power they would have to sacrifice. Yes, I am assuming a lot here because I don't actually know what water levels could be achieved at critical points and they would have to wait till Aswan was relatively full, in fact they might be able to take out Aswan by overtopping it enough.

Posted by: John Sanguinetti | Jun 27 2020 0:14 utc | 68

June 27th: Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to agree Nile dam deal in weeks
https://news.yahoo.com/egypt-ethiopia-sudan-agree-nile-065357119.html

Posted by: Antonym | Jun 28 2020 1:55 utc | 69

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