Geography is the bedrock of human society but it doesn’t get much attention when we think about the world.
At some point the Harvard University even dropped the geography department altogether. And these are the same guys who recently lost a cool billion from their pension fund, because their investment strategy was kind of, you know, off.
There is more to geography than meets the eye and it is crucial to the fate of nations. For instance, countries in tempered climate do better than the ones in the tropics.
Just look at Africa, where the top layer and the bottom layer of the continent are richer than the middle. Economically it is shaped like a McDonald sandwich.
South America works the same way. In terms of GDP per capita it is led by Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, all tempered weather places.
In tropics, the agriculture is less efficient; some say you get half the output for your efforts. There is no winter insect kill, diseases are easier to catch witch shortens the lifespan, so if you’re a trained engineer or a doctor there, you will not contribute to society as long as, say, in Europe.
To be fair, some tropical countries played it right – just look at Thailand or Singapore. They developed their strengths in tech and finance.
Singapore is going to benefit big time from Hong-Kong’s fall, which will be messy and long, and the capital is leaving already from there – if you’re a financial institution and have a trillion dollars to park, would Hong-Kong be your choice anymore?
In Europe the diversity always helped with progress, and the continent is really a peninsula with smaller peninsulas separated by everything geographical you can think of.
All the main rivers start from the Alps and spread like a car wheel design. Moving goods on water is about one-tenth of the cost of moving them on a highway. For an economy to be competitive this is a do-or-die factor. Problem is their rivers don’t interconnect.
Still, the diversity is Europe’s strength as people learn from each other, good and bad.
The concept of the EU, while looking great on paper, gets in the way of that, which is why I’m not a fan.
To be clear – EU is in the process of disintegrating and I see the covid scare as a desperate attempt to regain control. Switching people’s attention from politics to health.
The geography of Europe is in a stark contrast to China, where the main two rivers are parallel, the coast is round and there is a chain of islands out the coast that can be easily blocked for trade and military traffic by a powerful enemy.
I can name two easily– US and Japan. They both beat China in naval power big time.
This is the reason, not even looking at economical factors (and there are many going against them), why China will never become a global power, as it never did in history.
By now they have peaked in everything except for military build-up, but the thing about the army is not the hardware – it’s the experience of the people who run it, and that takes decades to earn, like a couple of World Wars.
Meaning – winning them.
So, no – China will not do anything of importance anytime soon.
They do silly things - their response to viruses being transmitted from animals is nothing short of criminal: wouldn’t you close all those live animals markets to prevent the next wave?
Let’s keep it light at the end, as I always do.
Lightness keeps me in shape – it’s that and the V-max when I’m moving high speed down the highway (the number of it is 404, the fastest one).
Now, imagine a good guitar, harmonica and low voice playing this:
“My baby did a low down dirty thing,
My baby, she turned my mind to mush.
She had the gangster lean lookin' a little flushed
She took my liquor and left me the can to crush”.
And that’s Billy Gibbons, thank you for these lines man.
Bitch took my liquor and left me the can to crush.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler