7 February 2018   Leave a comment

There’s been much less attention this year on the Chinese build-up of various reefs in the South China Sea for military purposes.  The lack of attention, however, does not mean that the Chinese have throttled back the enterprise.  The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies has published some very striking photographs of the installations and they are seemingly quite robust and extensive.  Now the Philippine Daily Inquirer has published some even more detailed photographs and they suggest that the Chinese have strong military ambitions.  The Philippines won a legal victory over the Chinese claims to the South China Sea from a tribunal at The Hague, but it never followed up on that success and it may be too late to stop the Chinese.  According to the Inquirer:

“If the Philippines does not assert its legal victory, it stands to lose 80 percent of its EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) in the South China Sea, covering 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space, including the entire Recto Bank, or Reed Bank, and part of the Malampaya gas field off Palawan, as well as all of the fishery, oil and gas and mineral resources there.”

The US has not strongly protested the Chinese build-up over the last few months even though it has in the past asserted that the Chinese activities violate international law.

                   

 

New research has found yet another anticipated consequence of climate change.  Researchers have determined that there are huge deposits of mercury in the Arctic permafrost that might be released if the permafrost melts because of global warming.  According to the report:

“The study found approximately 793 gigagrams, or more than 15 million gallons, of mercury is frozen in northern permafrost soil. That is roughly 10 times the amount of all human-caused mercury emissions over the last 30 years, based on emissions estimates from 2016.

“The study also found all frozen and unfrozen soil in northern permafrost regions contains a combined 1,656 gigagrams of mercury, making it the largest known reservoir of mercury on the planet. This pool houses nearly twice as much mercury as soils outside of the northern permafrost region, the ocean and the atmosphere combined.”

If the mercury makes it into waterways, it could be transformed into methylmercury, a toxin known to cause motor impairment and birth defects in animals.  The worst outbreak of mercury poisoning was in Minamata,  Japan in the 1950s.

Posted February 7, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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