WASHINGTON — Get ready for a new map of global economic power, this one redrawn by American shale gas. It could change the landscape in two ways: reviving hope for American manufacturing, and prompting an American-Russian rivalry over the export of energy to Europe and Asia.
For decades, Americans have watched the cheap cost of factory labor catapult China to wealth and superpower status, and allow economies elsewhere — southern Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe — to climb the ladder of economic development. This has set in motion the largest transfer in global wealth and power since the rise of the West in the 18th century, while the West accustomed itself to growing unemployment, urban blight and rising opposition to globalization itself.
But shale gas could well reverse this trend, and in the process redraw some important strategic relationships. Natural gas is cleaner than coal; it is cheaper than nuclear power, and easier and quicker to develop. Existing technology can locate and mine huge gas reserves that have been detected but are difficult to reach, and then transport the gas across the world. That promises to make gas the critical energy source for global industrial output, displacing the cost of local labor from its pivotal role as the measure of where to build the most profitable new factory. In the next phase of globalization, the local cost of natural gas is more likely to be that yardstick. And that, in turn, could shift the relative weight of global wealth and political power.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/11/opinion/nasr-a-new-map-defined-by-gas.html?_r=0