A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).

35 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. (part 2)…

    “Starting in 2008, the Germans and Russians joined with the Chinese in launching the “Eurasian Land Bridge.” Two east-west routes, the old Trans-Siberian in the north and a new southern route along the ancient Silk Road through K$#%^n are meant to bind all of Eurasia together. On the quicker southern route, containers of high-value manufactured goods, computers, and auto parts started travelling 6,700 miles from Le%^$zig, Germany, to Ch(*(&ing, China, in just 20 days, about half the 35 days such goods now take via ship.

  2. test..

    In October 2014, China announced plans for the construction of the world’s longest high-speed rail line at a cost of $230 billion. According to plans, trains will traverse the 4,300 miles between B.. and M.. in just two days

  3. McCoy has updated Mackinder in useful ways. Paul Kennedy is a thinker I respect very much.

    I just think Mackinder’s basic thesis suffers from a certain excess of simplification. The entire Eurasian landmass is not geographically unitary just because it is all land. As I have mentioned above there are the matters of the Gobi desert, the Tibetan Plateau (Himalayan complex of Pir Panjal Range, Dhaula Dhar Range, Zanskar Range, Ladakh Range and East Korakoram Range), The Caspian and Black Seas, The Caucasus Mountains, (plus the M.E. deserts beyond), the Pripet and Polish marshes and then the Tundra to the north. These natural barriers are very important.

    However, McCoy’s assessment of China and its strategy is interesting and accurate. I don’t know why he doesn’t mention the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. That is clearly crucially important.

    McCoy needs to be balanced by reading John J. Mearsheimer who is an “offensive realist”. That term simply means he sees powers (especially great powers) as always jockeying offensively in an anarchic world system. There is no over-riding power above the competing great powers so they make up their own rules limited only by their competition with each other. Mearsheimer is a realist and suggests that the US retreat to being a hemisphere hegemon not a world hegemon.

    Once the US did this we would see (my contention not Mearsheimer’s necessarily) that the USA and the Americas were as relatively invulnerable in their own way to the Eurasian powers as the Eurasian powers are becoming to the USA. If the semi-hemispheric powers (China and the USA) basically stick to their own fortresses they are invulnerable to each other. Nuclear deterrence ultimately underwrites this invulnerability. If the Americas are not all entirely the USA’s fortress then equally the Asian landmass is not all China’s fortress. Russia is too big and too nuclear (not to put too fine a point on it) to ever let China dominate all Eurasia in foreseeable history at least. History also demonstrates, I think, that the Eurasian landmass is just too big and too riven by major geographic features to ever be dominated by one empire. It will always be the “Riven Pivot” to my way of thinking.

  4. “On the quicker southern route, containers of high-value manufactured goods, computers, and auto parts started travelling 6,700 miles from Le%^$zig, Germany, to Ch(*(&ing, China, in just 20 days, about half the 35 days such goods now take via ship.”

    That is bad for climate change because shipping has lower ghg emissions than land transport.

  5. @ZM

    That’s by rail, not road. The moderation nazis wouldn’t let that part of the quote through.

    Speed makes a difference whichever mode is used, but I would have thought that all else being equal rail would be less GHG/energy intensive than shipping (apart from sail, obviously)?

  6. One NZ study I looked at seemed to indicate that coastal shipping was at best not even twice as efficient as rail in terms of CO2 emitted as kg/km/container. At worst (half-loaded ship), it was not even as efficient as rail. Of course, this is only for coastal shipping not deep-sea shipping.

    But if the China land route is much shorter than the sea route and the rail grades (inclines) are not too great, then the rail route will be competitive in costs including fuel costs. Thus it is not necessarily bad for GHG emissions. The route could even be electrified and supplied by renewable energy. Then only sailing ships could compete as far as GHG emissions go.

    The study was;

    “Freight transport efficiency: a comparative study of coastal shipping, rail and road modes – October 2012.”

  7. Megan,

    I think shipping is one of the lowest emission modes of transport on average, depending of course on the actual vehicle and its fuel

    “The following table shows the amount of CO2 (in grams) emitted per metric ton of freight and per km of transportation:

    Air plane (air cargo), average Cargo B747 : 500 g
    Modern lorry or truck : 60 to 150 g
    Modern train : 30 to 100 g
    Modern ship (sea freight) : 10 to 40 g
    Airship (Zeppelin, Cargolifter ) as planned : 55 g ”

  8. @ZM

    It’s my understanding that in general transport by water consumes less energy than transport by land because the friction is less.

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