Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Article: WikiLeaks: New Zealand Sells Itself as "a more Pacific country" than Australia - And As Key to Pacific Security. US Buys It. (Huffington Post)

In her latest Huffington Post blog entry, Cleo writes about what Wikileaks has to say about the security situation in the Pacific. An excerpt:

In a time when the Pacific is getting more attention from Washington, Wellington's role in advising on the region is becoming more valued.

This is potentially problematic in two ways.

First, NZ's information and advice may not always be as reliable as thought. There are examples of failure to predict/manage critical situations. For example, mismanagement of the Fiji coup by NZ/Australia resulted in pushing Fiji closer towards the China camp.

Similarly, in Tonga, New Zealand has been backing the 'pro-democracy' movement. That group triggered riots in 2006 that burned down much of the capital city. Following the riots, failure by NZ to substantially participate in the reconstruction resulted in Tonga having to take out a debilitating loan from China. The fact that a group supported by NZ as pro-democracy resulted in the country becoming indebted to an authoritarian country is a small indication of the something going wrong.

Another problem is the character of NZ's engagement of the region (which can affect intelligence gathering, analysis, and operations).

There is a perception of a pervasive NZ 'we know better' attitude towards Pacific island nations. For example, NZ is proposing sending a team to train the new Tongan parliamentarians in governance, in spite of the fact that the Tongan system is fundamentally different than the NZ one.

Second, NZ's interests are not necessarily US interests. NZ has its own range of national priorities and one would expect it to put those above the interests of partner states, no matter how close the relationship.

Article: Kingdom of Tonga, The Pacific, And Geopolitics, part 1 (Tonga Chronicle)

Part One of Cleo's series on Tonga, the Pacific, and geopolitics has appeared in the Tonga Chronicle. An excerpt:
While many in the region consider themselves a backwater, that is inaccurate. From a geopolitical perspective, the nations of the Pacific offer (among other things):
  • Sea-lanes and ports in relatively calm waters (increasingly important as China in particular increases trade with South America);
  • Access to fisheries (something increasingly important as the Atlantic is fished out);
  • Agricultural exports (especially important, as concerns over food security increase in    countries such as China);
  • Unknown but potentially valuable underwater resources;
  • Geostrategic military basing sites;
  • Crucial votes in international fora (Pacific Island countries represent around a dozen votes in the UN – a substantial voting block).
Given what is at stake, other nations are understandably keen to take advantage of discontent with traditional partners to advance their own position in the Pacific.
For more, click here

Article: Wikilieaks NZ Cables Mention Tonga (Tonga Chronicle)

Cleo's article on Wikileaks New Zealand cables has appeared in the Tonga Chronicle. An excerpt:
Similarly, in the 2007 cable, NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Secretary Caroline Forsyth “offered that New Zealand sees an arc of instability in Melanesia, as there is a great deal of money but little to no capacity to use it wisely. The Solomon Islands are under control at the moment but there are still significant problems in terms of governance and corruption. The GNZ is weighing the necessary structural changes needed to make a long-lasting improvement in the SI society so that RAMSI security forces might depart.”
The sort of ‘engagement’ that results in one nation sure thinking it can, and should, make “long-lasting improvements” in another nation’s society does little to build mutual trust and respect.
For more, click here.

Article: Pacific Geopolitics (Tonga Chronicle)

Cleo's latest Tonga Chronicle column is about how foreign policy decision permeate life in the Kingdom. An excerpt:
Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga – All Tongans feel the effects of foreign policy, whether it is when shopping for New Zealand products in Chinese shops, or applying for loans at an Australian bank, or paying for energy imports from the Middle East, or going to a hospital built by Japan, or having to fly through Auckland to visit relatives in the US.
Foreign policy decisions that affect Tonga are made all the time. But often, those decisions are not made in Tonga. Someone in New Zealand decides how many Tongans get seasonal worker visas. Someone in Australia sets import regulations that can limit Tongan exports. Someone at the World Bank writes conditions for funding that will keep the Tongan government solvent. Someone in Beijing decided the loan for rebuilding downtown would be paid back in Chinese currency.
Every day, and in many ways, foreign policy pervades, and shapes, life in Tonga. But, often, Tonga isn’t in control of that policy.
For more, click here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Global Warring WINS Another (!!) Major Award :) :) :)

Global Warring has WON the Mavis Gallant Non-Fiction Book Prize :) 
The Jury said Global Warring was: "required reading for political thinkers, environmentalists, and anyone curious about how the future is rapidly unfolding." For more, click here.

Article: (Huffington Post) Cleo Paskal writes on 'Why the West Is Losing the Pacific to China, the Arab League, and Just About Everyone Else'

Cleo Paskal's latest Huffington Post blog entry is called: Why the West Is Losing the Pacific to China, the Arab League, and Just About Everyone Else. An excerpt: 

Nuku'alofa, Kingdom of Tonga. The small South Pacific country of the Kingdom of Tonga has been busy. In a two-week period around the start of September, separate military delegations from the US, New Zealand, Australia, UK,  and the UN stopped by for a visit. The French sent a frigate and a military aircraft. China sent two warships.

Why all this activity in a country of 100,000? There is real concern that the West may be losing critical influence in the Pacific, while others such as China, and even the Arab League, are dramatically extending their reach. The implications are global, and may already have affected UN Security Council voting. It wasn't always this way. The Pacific is the West's to lose.

For more, click here

Video: Cleo Paskal on C-Span from the National Press Club, Washington, DC

Cleo Paskal talks to C-Span's Book show about Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map. Topics include the investment by China in ice-breakers. She was interviewed at the 33rd Annual National Press Club Book Fair and Authors' Night, a fundraiser for the Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library and The SEED Foundation held Tuesday, November 9, 2010. To see the interview, click here (it won't embed :) )

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Article: Cleo Paskal on commodities versus strategic assets (or how to win friends and influence countries -- with wheat)

Cleo Paskal analyses Canada's position as a global 'commodities' larder for the latest issue of Canadian Geographic. An excerpt (for the whole article, click here): 

Around the world, nations concerned about existing and worsening resource scarcity are making moves to secure supply. Populations facing hardship may be looking for new places to move, as refugees either after an extreme event or because of gradual erosion of stability in their home countries. And that is sure to affect the way they look at Canada.Some have been planning for scarcity for a long time. 
China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1979, followed a series of famines and was, at least in part, designed to reduce demand on resources. China’s willingness to implement such an emotionally, socially and politically difficult policy is a small indication of the seriousness with which it is also trying to secure supply. For example, along with other countries concerned about food supply, such as Saudi Arabia and South Korea, China is investing heavily in farmland in places like Africa. Often, the farms are run by Chinese nationals and the produce is destined for Chinese markets. And what scarce resources China does have, such as rare earth metals, are being kept in the country by the imposition of export quotas and high export tariffs.
The crux of it is that many of the things we currently view as commodities — say wheat and metals — are already seen as strategic assets by less fortunate nations. When something is considered a strategic asset, different economics and politics apply. A bushel of wheat isn’t viewed just as a bushel of wheat but as an essential component for keeping people from rising up against the government. During the food price spike of 2008, for instance, China was very quick to increase food subsidies to that most restive group, students. And in August, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a temporary ban on grain exports because of a severe drought that is expected to reduce the harvest by more than 20 million tonnes.
Canada may think of itself as a commodities nation, but others see us as a strategic-assets storehouse.
The question is, Will the Canadian government incorporate the increasing strategic value of our commodities into the way we engage with the rest of the world? Will we continue to sell off our storehouse to the spot-price highest bidder? Or will we try to plan for the longer term, develop a strategy and perhaps use our relative abundance to help allies get through the coming scarcities — in effect using our resources to increase our own security?
Parts of the Canadian government, including Public Safety Canada, have been considering these issues, and in certain sectors — in particular water — NGOs are raising strategic concerns. But we have a long way to go. What other nations already understand is that in an increasingly unstable world, Canada’s wheat, livestock, water, oil and land aren’t just commodities — they are stability. And that may soon become the rarest commodity of all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Interview: Cleo Paskal on Tonga in the Matangi Tonga

Cleo Paskal spent much of August and September in the South Pacific nation of the Kingdom of Tonga, learning as much as she could in the lead up to its elections on November 25th. Mary Lyn Fonua of the Matangi Tonga interviewed Cleo about her visit. An excerpt (for the full interview, click here):

What was interesting for me was this very unique situation of having to think through many of the fundamentals of an electoral process from scratch. What do you do about term limits? What do you do about term lengths? What do you do about campaign financing? These are all critical, extremely important issues that other countries are still struggling with and they were all being dealt with at the same time; and on top of that it's fundamentally a foreign system. There are traditional government structures that have worked for a very long time, at the village level, at the church level. So the whole question of not only good governance but appropriate governance is all coming to a head here, now, and there are questions that are of universal importance anywhere human society has to govern itself. This is a unique place, and a unique time, and a unique set of circumstances for thinking about those sorts of issues.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Video: Visit to EastWest Institute in New York City

Cleo Paskal visited with the fine folks at the EastWest Institute in New York City for bagels and a most interesting discussion. A write-up of the visit can be seen here. A video interview she recorded while there is below. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review of Global Warring by Malta's Shadow Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development & Climate Change

Leo Brincat, Shadow Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development & Climate Change, wrote in The Malta Independent Online, that Global Warring is: 

one of the most intriguing books that came my way this year. [...] In her easily readable but technical and well researched book Paskal sets out to identify how environmental, economic and political crises will redraw the world map. [...] She makes the fine point that in military circles the importance of weather and climate is well-known. Quoting the classic Chinese text The Art of War by Sun Tzu she explains that there are five factors that must be considered before any military action: weather, terrain, discipline (including supply lines), politics and leadership… climate change can as she argued, directly affect: weather, terrain and supply lines, discipline and politics! She shows deep concern too about the Mediterranean claiming that no one is certain what will happen to marine biology in the Med – a biosphere weakened by over fishing and pollution.

For more, click here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Foreign language mentions of Global Warring

Global Warring rated a write-up in an Arabic-language blog and a Scandinavian one. Though the Scandinavian one seems to mostly be about comedian Doug Stanhope trying to lighten his luggage by the weight of exactly one book (allegedly Doug's main complaint about Global Warring is that it doesn't mention the critical role Mothra might play in geopolitics).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cleo Paskal Interviewed in Canadian Business on Economic Implications of Environmental Change

Jordan Timm of Canadian Business Magazine interviewed Cleo on some of the ways environmental change could affect investments. An excerpt:

A typhoon hits Shanghai
Hurricane Katrina showed the level of destruction a storm can wreak on a developed city, and while a hit on New York isn't impossible, another global financial centre is extremely vulnerable. "Shanghai is like New Orleans," says Cleo Paskal, author of Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map. "It's very low-lying, it's in an active delta, it's in a typhoon zone. For the last few years they've been evacuating literally hundreds of thousands of people from that coastline in anticipation of typhoon hits." Paskal says a direct typhoon hit on Shanghai could have severe repercussions, economically and globally. "If the hit is severe enough, China may have to sell off T-bills in order to fund domestic reconstruction, and pull out of strategic foreign investments for the same reason." In that scenario, she expects China to dump its holdings in secondary markets like Europe.

The big thirst
"Right now, in most economic equations water is valued at zero," says Paskal. But as it becomes an increasingly critical resource for agriculture and energy production (as much as 40% of fresh groundwater in the United States and Europe passes through an energy plant at some point), that may no longer be feasible. "A lot of economic calculations about what is viable will need to be reassessed. The water supply isn't so much a water issue as it is an energy issue." We could see one vulnerable province start bulk water sales, opening the floodgates under NAFTA. But the Holy Grail of water science, Paskal says, is a cheap desalination technology: "Whoever comes up with that is going to be a very rich person."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Video: Commonwealth Club of California interview with Cleo Paskal

fora.tv has the interview Cleo Paskal did with Amy Standen from KQED at the Commonwealth Club of California (San Francisco). It covers a range of environmental change and security issues

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Global Warring Wins one of three $5000 Awards of Special Merit in the Grantham Prize!!!

In a very proud day for her parent's Cleo's Global Warring has won one of three $5000 Awards of Special Merit in the Grantham Prize!!! They also said some very nice things about the book: 
 Grantham Prize Jury Comments on Global Warring

In this fascinating, penetrating and stylistically crafted book, Cleo Paskal goes where other examinations of climate change have not – beyond the impacts to particular species or ecosystems and to the very structure on which our global civilization is built: the relationships between and among nations.
Paskal makes a convincing case that climate change will threaten global security and rock already tenuous geopolitical balances around the world. She begins with the most likely climate-change scenarios, then subjects them to insightful economic and political analysis.
She envisions the United States and the European Union facing off against China and Russia in a new kind of Cold War, one centered not on ideology but on such issues as control of the emerging Northwest Passage through the Arctic and water shortages in Asia. Within the U.S., France and other countries, she sees the potential for enormous unrest based on changing climate factors.
Yet Paskal’s book is far from scare-mongering. Rather, it lays out policy prescriptions that can help Western governments and their citizens manage through both adaptation and mitigation. This is cutting-edge journalism, the first of what will certainly be the next wave of climate-change exploration.
To read more, click here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Video: Cleo's TEDx Talk from Pilani, India

Cleo is now a Huffington Post blogger :-)

Cleo's first HuffPo blog entry went up today. You can see it here. Leave a comment and let her know what you think

Video of Woodrow Wilson Center event Backdraft: The Conflict Potential of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation

On June 10, at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, Cleo joined  Alexander Carius, co-founder and managing director of Adelphi Research and Adelphi Consult, Stacy VanDeveer of the University of New Hampshire, and Geoff Dabelko of Environmental Change and Security Program to discuss the unintended security consequences of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The wide-ranging discussion covered everything from Copenhagen to Rare Earth. Said Cleo: “We need to blow open the box on how complicated these problems are. We need as many different people involved and as many different sorts of solutions as possible.”

To read a write up of the event, click here.

To see the video, click here

Video of International Institute for Strategic Studies session on Climate Change and Conflict – A net assessment of the risks to international security presented by climate change

On May 28, at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels, Cleo joined Lieutenant Colonel Ian Astley, of the Global Strategic Trends Programme, UK Ministry of Defense’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre and Jeffrey Mazo, the IISS Research Fellow for Environmental Security and Science Policy for presentations and discussions about the security risks of environmental change. 

To see a write up of the event, and for a link to the video, click here.

Profile of Cleo Paskal (with interview) in the Toronto Star

Antonia Zerbisias, the great Toronto Star columnist interviewed Cleo before her IdeaCity talk. An excerpt:

Q: When you say that the world map will be redrawn, how much upheaval will there be?
A: If the U.S. doesn't start to deal with the domestic disruption, then I am very concerned that it will fragment and destabilize. If that happens, the world will be severely affected.
For more cheerful news, click here

Review of Global Warring in the Malaysia Sun

A just published review of Global Warring in the Malaysia Sun includes:

[Paskal's] closing, after many well argued presentations says that with “all the threads together, the world of tomorrow looks chaotic and violent. Even more so than usual. And even more than expected.” Our current “social, political, security and economic structures [are built] on the assumption that there are certain geophysical and climatic constants to act as a foundation. There aren’t. There never have been. And there never will be.” So now you can go read the apocalyptic and survivalist authors, as this relatively calm academic analysis arrives at a pretty gloomy and scary picture.

For more, click here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Review of Global Warring is the cover story for the Montreal Review of Books

Michael Carbert reviewed Global Warring for a cover feature for the Montreal Review of Books (see video of Michael interviewing Cleo below). Some excerpts from the review:

Paskal's goal is not to be alarmist. Instead, she wants to bring attention to the big changes both happening and likely to happen because of a warming planet, and to the simple fact that we need to prepare now for what's coming our way. Global Warring is unique among books on climate change as it eschews a strident tone in favour of a cool assessment of the changes to come, their likely outcomes, and the difficult choices we presently face...

Thus Global Warring, far from being simply another Al Gore-type warning about the peril we face, examines the likely future outcomes in terms of geopolitics, territorial sovereignty, trade, and national security. Thankfully, Paskal goes beyond a simplistic doom-and-gloom analysis that promises more disasters and more suffering. While increased chaos and conflict is likely, Paskal highlights the fact that options also exist and that few of the questions being raised by our shifting environmental conditions are anywhere close to being resolved...

Accessible, lively, and at times chilling, Global Warring is a book offering much-needed insight into a future where nothing can be taken for granted. With an eye-opening examination of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and its aftermath, a cogent analysis of China's increasing global influence, and convincing arguments in favour of overhauling infrastructure and possibly even abandoning low-lying cities in Europe and North America, Paskal's book is timely and necessary reading. It's difficult to shake the idea that this is one of those books that needs to be read by as many people as possible, as soon as possible, because the near future promises to be extremely interesting, to put it mildly.

Or, as Paskal puts it, "These are the good old days."

For more, click here.

Video Interview with Michael Carbert of the Montreal Review of Books

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review of Global Warring and Interview with Cleo in the Calgary Herald

Trent Edwards of the Calgary Herald reviewed Global Warring and interviewed Cleo for the paper. An excerpt:

Cleo Paskal may be an academic, but her new book is frighteningly practical.
Frightening, because Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic And Political Crises Will Redraw The World Map (Key Porter Books, $32.95) rings the alarm for all of us about the environmental changes that have the potential to devastate the world during the 21st century....
Paskal, a Canadian geopolitics expert and foreign correspondent who lives in London, England, spent a decade researching her thought-provoking book.
In it, she shows just how interdependent countries have become, and how a fast-changing environment will test nations' ability to adapt, likely causing unexpected shifts in global economic, political and security landscapes along with the more obvious changes in the physical landscape.
She delves into problem areas that could start future conflicts, such as access to water and resources in Asia, economic trends that are shifting the balance of power (such as China's policy of nationalistic capitalism) and geopolitical realignments (such as the burgeoning strategic partnership between the U.S. and India)....
Paskal's book isn't all doom and gloom. She offers helpful advice for how to prepare for, mitigate and recover from the coming changes in the environment.

To read the rest of the review, and the interview, click here.

Review of Global Warring invades Canada

Jonathan Montpetit, of the Canadian Press, wrote an article about Global Warring that was picked up all over the country, including Maclean's. It starts:

It is a military truism that an army ought to stand its ground.
But what if the ground it's standing on is melting, becoming prone to floods, or is outright disappearing?
Climate change is turning conventional military wisdom on its head, something Canada has been at pains to grasp, according to Cleo Paskal, author of "Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map."
The book, which came out earlier this year, has created a storm, no pun intended, in policy circles. It has found its way onto reading lists at the U.S. Army War College, and the Montreal-based author is now being tapped as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy.
For more, click here.

Review of Global Warring in Environment Conflict and Cooperation

Achim Maas of Adelphi wrote a nice review of Global Warring for Environment Conflict and Cooperation. An Excerpt:

The author’s analysis of the potential developments for the Pacific Island states offers some interesting new perspectives. While these states are almost exclusively recognized as places with future "climate refugees," Paskal emphasizes the political implications of climate change for the region: currently, countries like China, Australia and Taiwan compete for the island states’ favour by providing financial and economic support. Thereby, the author argues, they hope to obtain the support of the island states in international organizations or secure access to the region’s vast maritime territories, which not only include rich fishing grounds but would also open up new opportunities for further economic exploitation, such as seabed mining.

For more, click here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Review of Global Warring on New Security Beat

Rachel Posner of CSIS reviews Global Warring for New Security Beat, and seems to like it :) , writing in part:

Paskal eloquently explains the science behind climate change in layman’s terms, breaking down incredibly complex issues and drawing connections across seemingly disparate challenges, such as rising food prices, degrading energy infrastructure, and growing water scarcity. She is a skilled storyteller, using memorable vignettes (and at times even humor) to effectively illustrate these climate-related complexities.

But what truly sets Paskal’s book apart from a number of recent works on this topic is her ability to elucidate the major power shifts that are directly related to today’s climate and resource stresses. “Environmental change is the wild card in the current high-stakes game of geopolitics,” she writes (p. 249).

To read more, click here.

Article: Strange case of the disappearing islands (New Zealand Herald)

Cleo Paskal wrote a feature for the New Zealand Herald on some of the potential legal and geopolitical implications of islands disappearing because of subsidence/rising sea levels/etc., something that is already being seen and will become a critical problem in Pacific. 

The general idea is to try to ensure that, when possible, those who have to be relocated are seen as a benefit to the host country, not a liability. In some cases, this might be able to be done by using the value  of national sovereignty to "pay" for relocation. 

An excerpt from the feature:

In that model, neighbouring India, for example, would take in the Maldivian immigrants in exchange for India being able to extend its national waters to include Maldivian waters.
The proceeds from this extended EEZ (fisheries rights, seabed mining, etc) could be used to resettle and set up a trust fund for Maldivian immigrants, along the lines of land claim settlements in Canada. Maldivians could also get preferential access to the waters for economic development and, should the islands ever re-emerge, resettlement could be possible. The advantage for India would be an orderly settlement of relatively wealthy immigrants, and an extension of its coastal security zone.
This model might also be applicable in the Pacific. For example, if as the scientists tell us, Tuvalu will eventually need to be evacuated, and New Zealand takes in the bulk of the refugees, that patch of ocean could be administered from New Zealand by and for the benefit of the immigrants, affording resettlement money and economic prospects associated with their old homeland for those who want it.
The administration could be done through a sort of combination government-in-exile and trust.
It is worth noting that the host country need not be New Zealand or Australia. Given the geostrategic importance of the region, a "bidding war" for the immigrants might ensue with countries such as China and Taiwan looking to take in the immigrants in exchange for increased access to the region.
While this might seem far-fetched, what are the alternatives? If accepting the reality that some countries might need to be completely evacuated, a way forward of some sort will need to be found if a free-for-all is to be avoided. If left to the crisis point, it could end up in completely new and potentially undesirable forms of sovereignty.
For example, while the rest of Tuvalu is evacuated, one of the islands could be built up. That would probably qualify it as an "artificial island", affording it only a 500m safety zone, not the 200 nautical mile EEZ, but it would be enough to ensure statehood. That statehood could then be sold off to corporations who could then literally become sovereign, writing laws under which they flag ships, bank, run telecoms, sell arms, etc, with the impunity and immunity of statehood. This could have far-reaching security implications.
To read more, click here.