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The geopolitics of the chips that make your tech work

Why may a drought in Taiwan perhaps screw up your next computer purchase?

For one thing, the island is one of the world's top producers of semiconductors, which bind the electrical circuits in the tech we use in our daily lives. Cell phones, laptops, modern cars, and even airplanes all rely on these tiny computer chips. For another, Taiwan is now suffering its worst climate change-related dry spell in almost 70 years. This is a problem because Taiwanese chip factories consume huge amounts of water.

The wider issue, though, is a pandemic-fueled worldwide chip shortage that began way before it stopped raining in Taiwan, has wreaked havoc on entire sectors like the US auto industry, and is shaking up the increasingly contentious geopolitics of global supply chains.

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The Graphic Truth: Global maritime bottlenecks

Traffic finally resumed on Monday in the Suez Canal, almost a week after a massive container ship ran aground, causing a logjam of hundreds of vessels on either end of the busy waterway. The recent disruption in the Suez — which links the Mediterranean to the Red Sea via Egypt and accounts for 10 percent of global maritime shipping volume — has caused significant damage to global supply chains already overstretched by rising demand due to the pandemic. Analysts say that the disruption from the delays could still have an impact for several weeks. But this canal is just one of a host of naval chokepoints worldwide. We take a look at the busiest maritime bottlenecks, along with their share of global trade in oil and grains.

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