The sea will continue to be one of the most important conduits of global economic prosperity. Due to the inherent dangers of the maritime environment – maritime terrorism, trigger-happy hijackers and sea pirates, negligent mariners and, now, cyber-criminals – the shipping industry must be more vigilant than ever if the global economy is to be sustained into the future.
Japan’s political and military normalisation under the stewardship of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is well and truly underway. Japan is taking an increasingly proactive approach to the Indian Ocean Region, as is evident from its various regional endeavours. It is partnering with countries from around the Indian Ocean rim to build capacity and develop infrastructure, while growing local economies and raising living standards. Tokyo would appear to be taking an approach in which the offer of aid does not necessarily imply the eventual dependence of the recipient on the donor.
Globally, governments are including military forces in contingency planning in preparation for the possible consequences of a changing climate. In Australia, the most recent Defence White Paper defines Australia’s climate change position as largely influenced by regional stability. Accordingly, Australian Defence Force preparedness for climate-related crisis events will depend on timely, high quality information, resourcing and leadership.
Across the Indo-Pacific Region, the year ahead has all the hallmarks of continuing geopolitical uncertainly and the likelihood of increasing concern over a number of non-traditional challenges that include changes in demographic trends, the impact of climate change, the ability to meet food and water demands, rising inequality and the impact on employment of increased automation.
Each year, thousands of Australian native birds, reptile and mammals are illegally caught and trafficked to domestic and overseas markets. The trade is growing and combating agencies can struggle to attract the necessary resources when competing with other, better publicised, environmental issues.
Lithium production, with enhanced protection of the natural environment, will be critical to the future of transportation globally as it becomes dominated by electrically powered vehicles.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is the process of pumping a fluid mixture into the earth to fracture impermeable rock to access gas resources. The process can provide an abundant source of natural gas for domestic and export markets, but it faces strong community opposition over environmental and social concerns. Nevertheless, as energy prices rise there are compelling reasons for it to be considered as a contributor to Australia’s energy future.
Acid mine drainage is a relatively simple process, but it has the potential to lead to long term environmental degradation if left untreated.
Australia has significant geothermal resources; however, there are also significant challenges to exploiting these resources to produce energy. Recently other renewable energy sources have seen funding prioritised away from geothermal energy development. While to date, the industry has been able to demonstrate economical large-scale power generation it has demonstrated sufficient potential for geothermal technology to be included in a suite of options to ensure Australia’s future energy security.
The US President now appears to be taking a broader view of the situation in Afghanistan, one that could increase the pressure on Pakistan and bring India into the peacekeeping – and peace-making – equation.