Great Decisions 2014: Energy Independence (February 26, 2014)

UNC Charlotte’s Office of International Programs hosted Dr. Johan Enslin, Director, Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) who spoke on energy independence for the Great Decisions lecture series on Feb. 26. This was the fourth lecture of the series.

“Energy independence, by taking the bargaining chip of oil dependence off the table, would be good for American foreign policy. But the very technological advances that make independence possible have created a dilemma for lawmakers. In a government with fixed resources, should the U.S. encourage more traditional fuel production or invest in the young technology of renewable resources?” – Jonathan Chanis, Great Decisions 2014.

What is Energy Security?

Energy security combines three factors; national security, economic security and environmental security. Energy security makes energy independence possible, but for that to happen there needs to be a secure and reliable energy source. Energy also has to be affordable and easily accessible so economic growth can occur. For instance, ten years ago, natural gas was not as affordable as it is now, which made it unpopular choice of fuel then. From an environmental perspective, it’s also essential to consider the impact of energy use on the environment. We also need to consider energy independence and production in terms of regeneration, waste management and carbon dioxide production. If all three factors work together, energy efficiency will increase, meaning “more can be done with less.”

The Energy and Security Act of 2007 was created to push the U.S. into an improved state of energy independence and security. The act aimed to do this by increasing production of renewable, clean fuel sources and by manufacturing more efficient cars, products and buildings. Independence would have come from using a natural-gas infrastructure, which can be measured by Key Performance Indicator (KPI). It measures what is done or accomplished with energy. Dr. Enslin asserted that the only real power the U.S. has with energy is to generate it and consume it. America uses an energy generation business model that is 80-90 years old. Therefore the reliability factor of energy decreases because of this antiquated model.

Issues and Considerations

Data is taking an increasing use of energy. Today, It takes more energy to run a smartphone for a few hours a day than it does a refrigerator for an entire day. The world is in the crossroads of energy as important decisions need to be made about new technologies involved in clean energy production. It’s an international game and a nation cannot isolate itself when dealing with energy related issues. Dr. Enslin recommended that everyone should look internally and make some changes. Most basic everyday comforts come at a cost.

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times… and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.” – President Barack Obama.

Options for Energy Generation

Dr. Enslin predicts more electricity will be used in the coming years, not less. Population growth and the amount of energy used per capita in America each year, around 800 kilograms, contribute to this estimation. Compared to the U.S., Europe uses about half of that. Energy is relatively cheap in America and the use per capita dropped in the U.S. by around 15 percent, but the use of energy for domestic products increased greatly.

The question of whether to invest in traditional or non-traditional energy sources still remains. Nuclear generation is an option. Building a new plant would be very expensive, with a few planned constructions in the U.S. actually being scrapped due to the length of time it would take to complete; 40-years. Investing in over 40 years of production is extremely expensive. Fracking provides more time to complete projects that need finishing. However, dependence on oil has to decrease rapidly in energy regeneration. Natural gas is being exported as soon as America gets it.

For now, Dr. Enslin provides good news about electricity. He believes it is a reasonable way to move toward energy independence and security. As a quick fact, the U.S. uses about half of the world’s electricity.

Presentation summarized by Lauralane Osborne, UNC Charlotte (International Public Relations major)

Great Decisions 2014: China’s Foreign Policy (March 5, 2014)

U.S.-China RelationsDr. Cheryl Brown was the guest lecturer for the Great Decisions Lecture series hosted by the Office of International Programs at UNC Charlotte on March 5, 2014. Dr. Brown is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at UNC Charlotte.  Her lecture was on the topic of China’s foreign policy.

Dr. Brown began with a look into China’s history on foreign policy. China’s Cultural Revolution began in 1966 as a political and social movement enforced by Mao Zedong, the Communist Party’s chairman during this time. It aimed to reinforce communism by eliminating capitalism and culturally significant practices from the economy. This movement crippled China by negatively affecting the economy and the Chinese people.

China experienced swift changes in 1979 when the nation watched as a border war began between the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam. The U.S. and China had recently experienced “diplomatic recognition,” after severing ties in 1978. This contributed to the establishment of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which before 1979 was just an American liaison office.  The Taiwan Relations Act was established in April of 1979 by the United States to aid in the maintenance of peace, stability and security in the Western Pacific.  In addition, the U.S. created the American Institute of Taiwan, which is a non-profit organization, to serve its interests in Taiwan. The Institute was the result of the Taiwan Relations Act.

After 1979, China primarily focused on its internal economic development. Hong Kong’s smooth transition as a former British colony to China helped secure its (China) neighbors as allies during the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98. In addition, China joined the World Trade Organization in December of 2001, helping to foster economic development through a global export market. This move enabled the U.S. to further its investment in China’s increasing global market. Over the course of five years, American exports to China doubled.

China’s growth has caused it to be a “super power” in Asia. It is an economic force of nature and a legitimate political power.  On the surface, China may appear as a solid American ally. Dr. Brown looks east with caution about China’s growth because of China’s role in Asia and the “my way or the highway” attitude China boasts over the region.  Obama administration’s 2012 American “Pivot to Asia” represents a significant shift in American foreign policy from a Middle Eastern and European focus to Asia with an emphasis on “strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.” American military presence in China has increased as Beijing’s military spending has gone up in hopes of deterring the U.S. interference in the region.

As the world’s second largest economy, China is making large strides in technological advances. The country has recently begun using rare earth elements in the production of strategic weapons and technological hardware. They are also advancing in space exploration and the establishment of world class universities, an area where the U.S. has fallen behind.

The balance of power between the U.S. and China in Asia will continue to change.  Influence of both nations is evident in Asia. The “Pivot to Asia” initiative has caused the U.S. to gain favor in the region by widening its trade relationship with smaller Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and most recently Myanmar. This has helped the U.S. gain allies in the region, which provides insight into the expected growth of American presence in Asia in the coming years, as well as the strength of China’s influence in Asia.

 Presentation summarized by Lauralane Osbourne, UNC Charlotte (International Public Relations major)

WACC Speakers Series with Dr. Shibley Telhami, author of “The World Through Arab Eyes” (Jan. 22, 2014)

The World Affairs Council of Charlotte hosted Dr. Shibley Telhami, the leading expert on Arab public opinion, Middle Eastern affairs and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and author of “The World Through Arab Eyes: Arab Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Middle East” on January 22nd.

Dr. Telhami is the Anwar Sadat professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, and non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings institution. He is active in the foreign policy arena serving as advisor to the US Mission to the UN and to former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In addition, Dr. Telhami served as a member of the US delegation to the Trilateral US-Israeli-Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee, a part of the Iraq Study Group, and on the US Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World.

Great Decisions 2014: U.S. Trade Policy (Presented by Greg Sizemore, Director, US Commercial Services and U.S. Export Assistance Centers)

The Great Decisions Lecture Series, held by the Office of International Programs at UNC Charlotte, hosted its first speaker of the season, Greg Sizemore, director of US Commercial Services and U.S. Export Assistance Centers on Jan.15. Sizemore focused on U.S. exports and their significance to Charlotte. There are three U.S. Export assistance centers in North Carolina, which are located in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro. Their mission is to assist U.S. companies in selling their products and services to international markets overseas. Sizemore attributes the success of the state’s rise in exports to the efforts of the North Carolina Export Assistant Centers.

U.S. Trade Snapshot

There are 19 U.S. Export Assistance Centers in the U.S., which are part of 165 branches in 82 countries worldwide. Top trading partners for the U.S include Canada, China and Mexico. In 2010, President Obama announced the launch of the National Export Initiative. His goal was to double American exports within five years. By 2012, U.S. exports hit a record high of  $2.2 trillion, resulting in a trade surplus. This was significant because the last trade surplus for the United States was in 1975. The current National Export initiative goal is to reach $3.4 trillion by the end of 2015.

China

China is the third largest importer of U.S. goods. American exports to China have increased by 58% since 2008. Despite the growth, the United States has a $315 billion trade deficit with China. Due to its overwhelming nature, it is not a recommended market for companies that want to begin exporting, but it is still one of the fastest growing export locales for Charlotte. China’s Foreign Direct Investment in 2013 was estimated to be over $12 billion.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

There are many companies in Charlotte with large investments in international trade. Charlotte company exports are experiencing record growth with new job opportunities on the horizon. These companies include Siemens, Electrolux, Ingersoll-Rand, Freightliner and Haier. Foreign investors are attracted to Charlotte for several reasons; Charlotte has air and rail-road port connections, higher education programs provided for those entering the workforce and low energy costs.

Why Do Exports Matter?

Roughly 12 million jobs in the U.S. depend on export related careers, whether it be in manufacturing or corporate positions and the U.S. makes up 5% of the world’s export market. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, exports in Charlotte rose more than 15% in 2011. Export industries in Charlotte range from machinery and chemicals to energy and environmental technology. The fastest growing Charlotte based exports are metals, processed food, and lumber.

“We need a real culture change in America. You’ve got a new product, new idea, that you want to bring to the market, you need to think not only about how you present it in the U.S. Market, but 95% of customers exist outside the U.S.” – Commerce Secretary Pritzer; LA Times Jan. 9.

Summarized by LauraLane Osborne, WACC intern (Spring 2014) and UNC Charlotte – International PR major.

The World Affairs Council of Charlotte on National TV C-SPAN Book TV Airs: WACC Speaker Series with Joseph Cirincione President of Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing The World Before It Is Too Late” Sunday, January 12th at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on C-SPAN 2 Book TV

Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of "Nuclear Nightmares: Securing The World Before It Is Too Late"

Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing The World Before It Is Too Late”

Tune in as C-SPAN airs one of the World Affairs Council’s most important presentations of 2013, the WACC Speakers Series hosting Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing The World Before It Is Too Late.” Mr. Cirincione outlines the current administration’s nuclear policy, near nuclear mishaps, an introductory overview of nuclear enrichment and its implications and the most recent developments in the nuclear talks with Iran, issues with Pakistan and chemical weapons usage in Syria. The World Affairs Council of Charlotte is proud to share this presentation with its members and guests on C-SPAN TV.

The event will air on Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. (ET) on C-SPAN 2.

Biography: 

Joseph Cirincione is President of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. He is the author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late (forthcoming, Columbia University Press), Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons and Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats. He is a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s International Security Advisory Board and the Council on Foreign Relations.

His commentary has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Financial Times, Kyodo News, Moscow Times, Foreign Policy, The Hill, Daily Beast, and Huffington Post. He has appeared on ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, PBS, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NHK, Russia Today, and Al Jazeera.

Cirincione worked for nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives on the professional staff of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Government Operations. He is the author of hundreds of articles on nuclear weapons issues, the producer of two DVDs, a frequent commentator in the media, and he appeared in the films, Countdown to Zero and Why We Fight. He previously served as Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress and Director for Nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has held positions at the Henry L. Stimson Center, the U.S. Information Agency and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He teaches at the graduate School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Will You Give to the World Affairs Council of Charlotte?

At this time of year, you undoubtedly receive many requests from groups worthy of your support. There is no better, timely or more appreciated way for you to assure the future of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte than participating in our 2013 Year-End Giving Campaign.

givingDONATE TODAY! CLICK HERE

Consider the impact and outreach of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte in the Queen City:

  • Over 60 Council Scholar awards have been awarded since 1994, enabling teachers (K-12) to study abroad and participate in international professional development programs around the world. Under the 2013-2014 Council Scholar program, we have committed to send ten (10) teachers abroad; our largest contingent of educators yet!
  • 150 Charlotte-area high school students have attended WACC programs that they might not otherwise have access to through the Global Ambassador program.
  • Our newest education initiative with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools includes the Young Explorers Essay Writing Competition where middle school students will research and write an essay related to a global issue while using core writing competencies required by CMS. We plan to expand this program to area school districts in 2014.
  • 550 participants including 23 high schools and 46 community groups from the greater Charlotte area participated in WorldQuest on November 6th. In its 17th year, this blockbuster global knowledge competition remains the largest international education program of its kind in North Carolina.
  • More than 2300 individuals have participated in our global issue programming this year. Speakers such as H.E. Gary Doer (Ambassador of Canada to the U.S.), Rick Steves (Host of Rick Steves Europe), Eli Groner, Minister, economic Affairs to the U.S. (Embassy of Israel), Diana Untermeyer (Author of Qatar: Sand, Sea and Sky), H.E. Eduardo Medina Mora Icaza (Ambassador of Mexico to the U.S.), Dr. James Acton (Sr. Associate, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment), H.E. Mauro Vieira (Ambassador of Brazil to the U.S.), Timothy Beardson (Author of Stumbling Giants: The Threats to China’s Future) and Dr. James Berkey (James B. Duke Professor of International Studies, Davidson College) shared thoughtful discourse and insight on significant issues impacting communities around the world.
  • Area high schools continue to host roundtable discussions with international experts allowing for interactive learning on a variety of international topics through the Speaker-in-the-Classroom initiative.
  • UNC Charlotte, Davidson College, Charlotte School of Law, Wingate University, Queens University of Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College remain major education partners and we continue to collaborate with these institutions on a variety of international education programs (i.e. International Speaker Series, Global Issues Forum, Great Decisions, Global Issues, The Magellan Society etc.)
  • The Magellan Society (Young Professionals of the WAC Charlotte) continues to bring together YPs who are interested in impacting the world through cultural exchange, volunteerism abroad and travel.

As we continue promoting international education and a broader awareness and understanding of world affairs, your tax-deductible gift is vital to our mission to help you and our neighbors connect the big dots in what is becoming a very small world.

Please make the World Affairs Council of Charlotte a priority in your year-end giving.

Sincerely,

World Affairs Council of Charlotte Board and Staff

WACC hosted Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing The World Before It’s Too Late” on Dec. 5

LJ Stambuk, President & CEO of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, Dr. Marie-Claire Marroum, Board Member of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte and (Ret.) President of Carolinas Pathology Group, with Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of "Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late" — at Hilton Charlotte Center City.

LJ Stambuk, President & CEO of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, Dr. Marie-Claire Marroum, Board Member of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte and (Ret.) President of Carolinas Pathology Group, with Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late” — at Hilton Charlotte Center City.

On December 5, the World Affairs Council of Charlotte hosted Joseph Cirincione to discuss the impact of nuclear weapons in today’s world and how diplomatic discussion has a far better chance of securing peace among conflicted nations. The presentation was filmed by C-SPAN for a national audience. “I would guess that very few of you woke up this morning thinking about nuclear weapons,” said Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing The World Before It’s Too Late.”

Nuclear terrorism is one of the two threats that can bring about devastation- the other being global warming- and it is not only preventable but also reversible. No one has used a nuclear weapon in 68 years, relying less on the use of WMDs and more on the attempts of diplomatic resolution. Aside from discussion of his book “Nuclear Nightmares,” Cirincione honed in on recent negotiations made in Geneva between the P5-plus-1 and Iran.

Science with Cirincione: Bomb or power?

We Think Media, a group funded by Ploughshares Fund, did a survey about all the stories pertaining to nuclear policies. The surveys showed that 70 percent of these stories were about Iran. The questions pertaining to Iran are can we stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and how are they making these nuclear weapons?

Iran has Uranium mines. Natural uranium can’t be used to make nuclear power unless it is enriched to a rare isotope called U235. So it is mixed with fluoride and turns into gas. It is then put into a centrifuge where it spins the gas until heavier elements go to the outside and the lighter U235 element goes to the middle. Slightly enriched but not enough, it is put into another centrifuge and spins until the U235 is more enriched. They do this process for about three to four months until it becomes three to five percent enriched. The now enriched U235 gas is put into a powder form, the powder form is put into pellets and the pellets are put into fuel rods in a nuclear reactor. Then it undergoes fission: The hotter it gets the more steam is produced from the water around it, spinning the turbines until you have nuclear power. This doesn’t seem so bad; after all, 20 percent of the United States relies on nuclear power. The problem: If you keep these centrifuges going and enrich U235 up to 90 percent, the outcome is a gas-formed metal about the size of a grapefruit used as a nuclear weapon.

Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of "Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late" — at Hilton Charlotte Center City.

Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late” — at Hilton Charlotte Center City.

Iran: What’s the deal?

Iran has a long history of hiding their centrifuge facilities while the United States has a history of finding them. Iran claims these centrifuges are being used for nuclear power only. By still using these centrifuges for so-called nuclear power, they are still enabling their nuclear program. On the other hand, the United States’ nuclear program is giving the rest of the world an incentive, implying that it is ok to have these programs.  President Obama spoke to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a discussion that hasn’t happened between the two countries since Jimmy Carter’s presidency. At the Geneva Convention, the P5-plus-1 and Iran reached a temporary and fragile agreement that Iran would stop its nuclear projects for six months. They are prohibited from using their centrifuges even for nuclear power to ensure there is no advancement of their nuclear program and to stop working with plutonium another element used for making bombs. Iran agreed to highly intrusive daily inspections. In return the P5-plus-1 released sanctions on Iran of about $7 billion.

Iran’s Economy: The impact of Sanctions

Sanctions are a tool to make a deal and we have the toughest sanctions on Iran in modern peacetime. Iran’s economy has crippled because of sanctions. “Sanctions can’t solve a problem,” said Cirincione. “Don’t think you can crush a country into submission by sanctions alone, it has never happened.” Because of sanctions, economic growth is down five percent. Iran’s oil sales have plummeted, value of currency is down 60 percent and unemployment is up 35 percent. Sixty percent of Iran’s youth is under 35. Among the youth, 50 percent are unemployed. “No regime can survive with fifty percent of its youth not working,” said Cirincione. “This is a regime threat.”

Cirincione has “lived long enough to see the impossible happen.” He concluded his optimistic presentation with proof of peaceful negotiations rather than nuclear destruction by referencing historical evidence of overcoming triumphs with diplomatic means. “I’ve seen a man walk out of a prison cell that is held him for 28 years to become elected president of a majority ruled and freed South Africa,” said Cirincione, giving tribute to Nelson Mandela who, only a few hours later, passed away at the age of 95. “If you’re a student and you are following these issues and if you care about national security, I congratulate you on your timing.”

Book signing with Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of "Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late" — at Hilton Charlotte Center City.

Book signing with Joseph Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund and author of “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late” — at Hilton Charlotte Center City.

Mr. Cirincione stayed after his presentation to sign books and talk more with students and members of the audience. His presentation was all but one hour but it left the audience wanting more and certainly asking more questions.

Written by Brianna Woods