Rising Water Levels Solve Another Geopolitical Problem

We all know climate change is supposed to create more human conflict, but what about the problems it's solving? Xinhua reports on an elegant solution to a long-simmering Sino-Russian border dispute: 

In the next 10 days, the water level around Heixiazi Island is expected to submerge the whole land mass, which usually has an average altitude of 37 meters, said an official with the flood control and drought relief headquarters with northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

China and Russia ended a century-long dispute over the island and held a border redrawing ceremony in 2008, declaring each side owned half of the 335-square-km piece of land, which is located at the confluence of the Heilongjiang River, known as the Amur River in Russia, and the Ussuri River.

Yes, the waters will subside eventually, but the long-term trends don't seem promising. Precipitation in the area was 47 percent higher last month than in previous years and the current water level of the Heilongjiang River exceeds the previous record by more than half a meter, according to Xinhua. The Chinese half of the island is largely unihabited, though a small community apparently lives on the Russian side, which presumably will need to be evacuated. 

Perhaps Heixiazi, or Bolshoi Ussuriysky Island as it's known in Russia, will one day meet a fate similar to New Moore Island, a territory in the Bay of Bengal claimed for years by both India and Bangladesh until it sank beneath the waves forever in 2010. Then there's Okinotorishima, the tiny coral atoll that Japan has spent $600 million to protect from the surrounding seas. 

Sooner or later, water wins all island disputes.


Before-and-After Images Reveal Destruction of Syria's Largest City


On July 19, 2012, Syrian rebels stormed Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub. The year since has been nothing less than a disaster for the city: The war between insurgents and the Syrian military has destroyed the lives of the civilians caught in the middle, killing thousands. Aleppo's cultural patrimony has also been destroyed -- a 17th century souq that was a UNESCO World Heritage Site burned to the ground, while the medieval citadel in the center of the city was damaged as Syrian soldiers once again transformed it into a military base.

Amnesty International has now published satellite images that drive home the indiscriminate destruction of Aleppo. By dragging the divider across the image above, you can see the destruction of three neighborhoods that have been wracked by street-to-street fighting, as well as shelling and even SCUD missiles used by the Syrian military.

Amnesty has also released satellite images that reveal how the destruction has spread since the rebel offensive last summer. From scattered damage in the north and near the old city last October, the violence has extended across Aleppo, wreaking havoc across a once-prosperous city.