Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Energy

Don’t Vote for the Tories: Labour Offers a Serious Alternative

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans for a snap election on 8 June. She’s way ahead in the polls, and the Conservatives may win–they may win by a lot. But they shouldn’t. So I’m continuing a blog series called “Don’t Vote for the Tories.” Each post gives you a new reason to reject the Tories at the polls this June, grounded in research and data. I aim to do at least one of these each week until the vote. Today we’re taking a break from criticising the Conservatives and exploring what Labour has to offer.

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Going on with the Dakota Access Pipeline?

There are protests in North Dakota over the half-complete Dakota Access Pipeline. The plan is for the DAP to carry 400,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to existing pipeline infrastructure in Illinois. This is about half the capacity of the larger Keystone XL Pipeline, which President Obama cancelled in response to protests from environmental groups. While Keystone was planned to transport Canadian shale oil, the DAP is a domestic pipeline transporting American fracking oil. Because it is a domestic pipeline, regulatory standards are not as high for the DAP, and this has made it easier for the pipeline to secure the relevant permits. While there has been some media coverage, the DAP protests have been pushed to the periphery of the American political agenda by the US presidential race, which has at this point devolved entirely into horse race reporting–who is winning, why they are winning, what the loser needs to do to turn things around, etc.–with no serious policy emphasis. This does the issue a disservice, so I’d like to take a closer look at it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Does the US/China Emissions Deal Make a Difference?

Recently the United States and China agreed to a carbon emissions reduction deal to combat global warming. Under the terms of the deal, the US agrees to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025, while China agrees to reach peak emissions by 2030, and to generate 20% of its energy with zero-emissions technology by that year. Diplomacy is notoriously difficult, and consequently any deal on climate change heartens those who watch international politics. But are these emissions reductions sufficient to avert the worst of what global warming potentially has to offer? I’m not seeing much coverage of the deal from a climate science perspective, so I decided to look into it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reshoring: China vs. The Robots

There’s a bit of a disconnect between international relations theory people and economic theory people. It is rare that a single person finds himself facile with both disciplines and this tends to introduce blind spots in thinking. One of the biggest blind spots concerns the future role of manufacturing in geopolitics. Many people believe that cheap wages in places like China will ensure a strong US-China trading relationship and reduce the chance of future security competition. They think China will rise peacefully. These people are missing an important economic trend–the decreasing relevancy of the US-China wage gap and the inevitability of “reshoring”, the relocation of manufacturing back into the rich countries from whence it came.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Russia is Going to Win in Ukraine, For Now

UPDATE:

I’ve noticed a handful of people each day are searching for information on the Ukraine crisis and finding this piece. While I think it’s certainly interesting and you’re welcome to read it for information on the Ukraine-Russia relationship during the 00’s and in the months running up to the start of the Euromaidan protests, I wrote it in December of 2013–you might be more interested in my more recent writings on the crisis. Here are two such pieces:

February 22–this piece covers the various reasons Russia considers Ukraine a core strategic interest.

March 5–this piece covers the role the United States has played in pushing the Russians into intervening in Ukraine.

I have a certain fascination with the way that Russia conducts its foreign policy, particularly under Putin. It has an old fashioned, 20th century feel to it. It is bereft of the idealism that so often accompanies American and European policy and is consequently less prone to naïve mistakes. The Russians play hard, they play to win, and they often outplay their western counterparts despite economic and military inferiority. The recent series of events culminating in the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine is a tour de force of Russian foreign policy acumen, and is worth examining the way an art student would a Picasso.

Read the rest of this entry »