Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A small sample of what is to come?

Here in Queensland, Australia, we are in the midst of the worst flood crisis in recorded history. Lives have been lost. Billions of dollars will be needed to replace and repair the damage to property and infrastructure. The city of Brisbane, population two million, has a drowned CBD and thousands of inundated homes today. In Ipswich, near Brisbane, the Bremer River rose 19.5 meters, or 64 feet in American money and flooded huge areas.

Out here in rural Queensland, flood waters have devastated many towns and isolated others. My home town has been cut off for days and supplies are running out. Milk, bread, flour, all the basic essentials have disappeared from the shelves of our four supermarkets. Empty shelves, empty bakeries, many shops closed. By some miracle, the electricity is still on and broadband is still available.

Petroleum products are running out, because of panic buying. How do I know it is panic buying? Because, with all the roads closed, there is nowhere to go! Queues were long at all the pumps yesterday and 'Sold Out' signs were starting to appear.

What does this tell us?

For one thing, it tells us that scarcities will be made worse by hoarding and panics. For another, it tells us that communities have become utterly dependent upon reliable shipping and road transport to function normally for more than three days. Thirdly, it makes us realise how valuable our larder and fuel supplies become, which makes them attractive targets for those who face doing without.

In case you were concerned, we are doing OK. The freezer is full, the pantry is full and we have electricity. For now. If we are prudent, our supplies could last us a month, although losing electricity would be a big hit to our fortunes. But it does give us furiously to think. We are better off than many, because we had just completed our monthly shopping, but it is only by luck that we are this well prepared.

We are not prepared for totally doing without liquid fuels or electricity for more than a few days. We are not prepared to be self-sufficient for long periods. Like most people, we are not prepared for a permanent change to our expectations of life's essentials being in bountiful and cheap supply.

This current crisis will soon be over and people will become complacent once again. Until next time. Until the big one hits. Until the coming crash.

Philosophy prospers with a dry bed and a full stomach.

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