March 22, 2011

That leaves us with fossil fuels. The race will be on full-throttle for petroleum, natural gas, coal, and oil shale. In the US, that means Alaska, offshore California, and the Gulf of Mexico. Russia and central Asia will be prime beneficiaries, along with the Arabs and Iran. The geopolitical, environmental, and economic ramifications will be momentous.

Japan’s nuclear emergency could possibly provide Tehran’s leadership with a convenient escape hatch to abandon its nuclear “ambitions.” I’m not referring to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, because I don”€™t believe such a program exists. I’m talking about Iran’s goal to create nuclear-power facilities to generate electricity. That undertaking is entirely normal in view of what France, England, America, Germany, and Japan have done.

Depending on how bad the Japanese situation gets in the weeks ahead, the mullahs might conclude that nuclear energy is overrated and too risky. Iran has its own history of major earthquakes. Saudi Arabia’s semi-official press has already expressed alarm with the state of affairs at the Bushehr nuclear energy plant, alleging that the Iranian reactor is situated in an earthquake zone and that the “technology employed is a mishmash of the new and the old.” Bushehr was originally a German project started in 1975 under the Shah. Then the Russians were asked for help to finish it in 1995. Thanks largely to the US sanctions on Iran, the project is still not operational.

Should Tehran decide to abandon its quest for nuclear energy, it would ask that economic sanctions against Iran be lifted, since whatever alleged nuclear threat Iran posed has been removed. Washington might not agree, but the idea of attacking Iran will appear more bizarre than it already is. A lessening of tensions and an upside for world peace and sanity in the region would result.

Then there are the all-important iPhone and iPad. Although they were conceived in Cupertino, they are assembled in China with some very critical components sourced from Japan. These components are not manufactured anywhere else in the world and in some cases are proprietary. Get the picture? It’s a potential nightmare if the supply chain is short-circuited. Globalization is a great thing for the consumer except when it’s not. Aside from Taki and a handful of incorruptibles, we are all hooked on the digital age’s wonders. Cupertino may need to scale back and slow down, along with the rest of us. Welcome to the post-tsunami world.



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