Thursday, 1 December 2016

haber process

Informed by Super Punch, The Atlantic presents a primer in a geopolitical snarl that’s potentially more significant for humanity’s surviving and thriving than the cartel of petroleum producing countries and all the economic booms, bubbles and bursting of the past: the virtual phosphate monopoly held by Morocco and its contested territory of Western Sahara.
Back in 1918, chemist Fritz Haber was awarded the Nobel Prize for inventing the process that fixed atmospheric nitrogen to phosphate to synthesize ammonia for fertilizers and other applications that allowed the world population to climb to the billions through improved agriculture—and while nitrogen is essentially unlimited, phosphate is finite and there’s no substitute. Currently, Morocco—which is very sensitive on the subject of Western Sahara, akin to a One China Policy or Kurdish independence but the controversy has been successfully muted and the plight of the aboriginal Sahwari people is largely unknown—cannot leverage the rest of the world with its reserves but that could change any moment, with wealth-redistribution and climate change, and suddenly food-security might mean that the Earth can no longer sustain us in the lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to.