Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is this the beginning of the end?

They may not be related, but they're indicators that - beneath the veneer of calm - things are starting to catch up with us.

First, Johann Hari talks about the very real possibility that bananas may soon be "extinct", thanks to a disease that's ravaging them (see here). It's a cautionary tale that tells us what happens when you give business free rein, and yet instead of realising we've given them too much free rein, we allow them to demand even less regulation. How is giving companies - who are interested only in the bottom line - more freedom better for the rest of us? Why are we so blinded by money that we allow this kind of destruction to take place?

But the problems with bananas may soon be eclipsed by something more sinister. Last month's Saga magazine talked about the rapid decline in the honey bee. It's not online sadly, but The Independent recently commented on this here. If you want to be utterly selfish for a moment, which is after all what we humans are particularly good at, the loss of the honey bee could see major agricultural crops become impossible to grow, because bees are responsible for their pollenation.

These events are things we should be worried about, not the fact that the soaring cost of oil - representing increased demand and a lack of supply more than some kind of exercise in profiteering - might drive us off the roads. If we're to complain, we should be demanding better public transport, not a cut in oil duty so we can enjoy lower prices in the short term. It's time to face up to the fact we need to start reining in our excesses, because it's beginning to bite. Now, not 20 years down the line.

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