From the sublime (Peeps) to the ridiculous (global collapse...) - rice; the mainstay food for half of the Earth- has nearly doubled in price over the last year. The New York Times has a nice, calm, even-handed report today.
They casually report that food riots have already been taking place, around the world- and the military in some countries are now hunting out "hoarders" (ie. powerless people with food they can take- not big corporations with mountains of grain waiting for the price to go up).
Etc. etc. As Kurt Vonnegut was fond of repeating, "And so it goes."
The rather calm approach is typical, I think, of our current world. Sharon, who is more outspoken about impending doom than I am, has a recent post enumerating a few of the current disasters and their interactions- #4 is "Failure to respond..." in this case to global warming.
We are unable to act on many fronts, these days though- we are also failing to act on population growth- and... well, add your own. Paralysis.
As I put it on somebody else's blog a few weeks ago (DotEarth, I think);
"So this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends;
not with a bang nor a whimper; but in statistical gridlock."
My apologies, of course, to T.S. Eliot, and yes, I realize it doesn't exactly scan.
It was Benjamin Disraeli; England's Prime Minister for some of Queen Victoria's reign, who said "There are three kinds of lies. Lies; damned lies; and statistics." Even then; all that was necessary to bring about paralysis was to hire some expert to produce "statistics" pointing in the opposite direction - from whatever needs doing. Tons of that, these days.
To some extent, I also speculate that our ability to be calm spectators at our own catastrophes might derive from our total addiction these days to electronic media- the incessant TV, cable, iPod, and cellphone video- perhaps we see ourselves purely as consumers of entertainment.
So when the latest new Reality TV show comes on line- food riots in Mexico and Egypt and Thailand- all of us, including our "leadership" - tends to just turn up the volume on CNN, and wait to see what happens next.
Gosh. Terrible. Is there better coverage on ABC? Click. Click. I mean; this isn't real- it's just on the screen, right?
Man, these damn icebergs are stubborn. And some days it's tempting to let it get depressing.
Ok. I'm better now. I'm off to push on a couple of my bergs.
I highly recommend you pick one or two and - push. If we don't- nobody will.
One other little quirk- I just read Voltaire's "Candide" a couple nights ago. For the first time; I'd somehow managed to avoid it in college. It made darn interesting reading right now. The basic lesson being- not much has changed. All the injustices and horrors he writes so "humorously" about - are still with us. All of them. Including, alas, the ability of the mass of humanity to just be onlookers, as horrors unfold in front of them. Hard to blame TV.
Two things- it's perhaps a little comforting to know that we, specifically, are not doing a worse job of running the world than our great grandparents did. They did a horrible job. And- maybe it's time to think about trying to do things differently. Really differently. Because this isn't working- and hasn't been- since before Voltaire.
April 4; update on rice: the Washington Post is not so calm; Developing World Panics...