Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blogging in the Long Emergency

I believe I have expressed this sentiment before, but sometimes the stuff I usually write about just doesn't seem important enough to merit the bits and bytes. Reading the NYT I found this in the business section:

Commodity prices went wild on Wednesday, with the price of corn shooting through the $7 barrier for the first time, soybeans and wheat moving up sharply and oil jumping more than $5 a barrel. . . .“You know those complaints you’ve been hearing about high food prices? They’ve just begun,” said Jason Ward, an analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. . . . Meanwhile, oil futures jumped $5.07 to close at $136.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The immediate catalyst was an Energy Department report showing commercial oil stockpiles in the United States fell 4.56 million barrels. . . . Some traders say that the market is now gearing for a quick rise to $150 a barrel.

All that bad weather in the midwest is contributing to the spike in grain prices, as well as flooding cities and towns and killing boy scouts. Is that because of the more energetic atmosphere resulting from rising CO2 levels, or is it just happenstance? We don't know for sure, but either way, the worldwide shortage of grain makes prices jump on any hit to supplies.

Meanwhile there's this:

By ANDREW C. REVKIN -- Some shark populations in the Mediterranean Sea have completely collapsed, according to a new study, with numbers of five species declining by more than 96 percent over the past two centuries.

“This loss of top predators could hold serious implications for the entire marine ecosystem, greatly affecting food webs throughout this region,” said the lead author of the study, Francesco Ferretti, a doctoral student in marine biology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

Particularly troubling, the researchers said, were patterns indicating a lack of females of breeding age, which are essential if populations are to recover even with new conservation measures.

The western North Atlantic fisheries on which Massachusetts was built have completely collapsed in the past decade. Fleets are going farther and farther afield to strip mine the oceans of one species after another. There isn't much left. The deepening drought in California has already permanently destroyed thousands of acres of farmland, and it's going to render cities uninhabitable soon enough. Such things are happening all over the world, in rich countries and poor, from Spain to Australia to Brazil and Zambia: climate change, resource depletion, and soon hunger and thirst.

Should we be worried about physician-patient communication, or health insurance, or flu vaccines? I'm nost sure.

UPDATE:The global water situation, from TAP.

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