I am a general news hound, but there are a few things that I am oddly obsessed with, namely hurricanes and bird flu, which toggle with the seasons. Lately I've been poring over satellite images of Dennis and Emily and super Typhoon Haitang. However, today the bird flu wiki caught my eye, and it pointed me to a thorough Foreign Affairs article on the topic. The article discusses many aspects of the possibility of a global pandemic, and particularly focuses on its effects on world trade. There was one paragraph in particular that I found interesting. Having pointed out the degree to which SARS threw the world into a panic, he writes:
The pandemic-related collapse of worldwide trade and its ripple effect throughout industrialized and developing countries would represent the first real test of the resiliency of the modern global delivery system. Given the extent to which modern commerce relies on the precise and readily available international trade of goods and services, a shutdown of the global economic system would dramatically harm the world's ability to meet the surging demand for essential commodities such as food and medicine during a crisis. The business community can no longer afford to play a minor role in planning the response to a pandemic. For the world to have critical goods and services during a pandemic, industry heads must stockpile raw materials for production and preplan distribution and transportation support. Every company's senior managers need to be ready to respond rapidly to changes in the availability, production, distribution, and inventory management of their products. There is no model for how to revive the current global economy were it to be devastated.
I am not an anti-globalist, whatever that really means. However, the trend away from maintaining any local sustainable production and consumption seems to be a recipie for disaster. What happens when something goes wrong? Speaking of which, the price of oil is up on fears that hurricanes will disrupt oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. I have a suspicion that the weather is going to get a lot worse.
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