1. Where is the United States in
Preparing for the coming energy wars - nations begin arms race for control of world's resources
Last summer, as Americans focused on the surge in Iraq, most ignored a military exercise with a potentially more far-reaching impact. In a remote location in the Ural Mountains, Russia, China, and several Central Asian nations gathered for a massive war game, ironically dubbed "Peace Mission 2007." Thousands of troops, armored vehicles, fighter-bombers, and attack helicopters stormed a town in a mock battle that was supposed to simulate fighting a terrorist takeover. Beneath its
anti-terror veneer, Peace Mission 2007 was a classic display of military readiness: When it was over, the troops paraded before their assembled defense chiefs, and the whole event laid the groundwork for a closer military alliance among the participating nations. That such an exercise was held at all might seem shocking. Despite the global war on terrorism, and a steady drumbeat of civil conflicts, no war involving a major power like Russia has occurred in decades, and no external enemy threatens any of the Central Asian nations. But the exercise highlighted an alarming new reality. With much less fanfare than the early days of the Cold War, the world is entering a new arms race, and with it, a dangerous new web of military relationships. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks international armed forces spending, between 1997 and 2006 global military expenditures jumped by nearly 40 percent. Driven mainly by anxiety over oil and natural resources, countries are building their arsenals of conventional weapons at a rate not seen in decades, beefing up their armies and navies, and forging potential new alliances that could divide up the world in unpredictable ways. Much of this new arms spending is concentrated among the world's biggest consumers of resources, which are trying to protect their access to energy, and the biggest producers of resources, which are taking advantage of their new wealth to build up their defenses at a rate that would have been unthinkable for a developing country until recently........
Global food crisis sparks US survivalist resurgence
So far the threat of a global food crisis has not affected Australia, but there are worrying signs appearing in the United States where some worried locals are beginning to hoard supplies. Two bulk US retailers are rationing some sales of imported rice and that's been enough for some Americans to begin stocking up. It has also rekindled America's survivalist movement. One leading survivalist warning of lean and hungry times ahead is Jim Rawles, a former US intelligence officer and editor of a survivalist blog, who lives in California. Mr Rawles says he thinks the food shortages being seen in the United States could soon become a matter of survival. "I think that families should be prepared for times of crisis, whether it's a man-made disaster or a natural disaster, and I think it's wise and prudent to stock up on food," he said. He says there are thousands of people in the United States stocking up to prepare for the possibility of a food shortage........
U.S. population to hit 1 billion by 2100
If the USA seems too crowded and its roads too congested now, imagine future generations: The nation's population could more than triple to 1 billion as early as 2100. That's the eye-popping projection that urban and rural planners, gathered today for their annual meeting in Las Vegas, are hearing from a land-use expert. "What do we do now to start preparing for that?" asks Arthur Nelson, co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, whose analysis projects that the USA will hit the 1 billion mark sometime between 2100 and 2120. "It's a realistic long-term challenge." The nation currently has almost 304 million people and is the world's third most populous, behind China (1.3 billion) and India (1.1 billion). China passed the 1 billion mark in the early 1980s. Nelson's projection assumes that current fertility rates remain constant but that longevity and immigration will continue to rise. Jeff Soule, director of outreach for the American Planning Association, hopes it will be provocative enough to inspire planners who anticipate development patterns and infrastructure needs to look beyond their lifetimes and localities. "We have to be more aggressive about looking out at the long term," Soule says. "It may get people thinking beyond their jurisdictions.