Man vs Nature

Recent events have reminded us just how powerful and destructive Nature1 can be. Only by Man fiddling with Nature in naughty ways (atomic bombs) can he even begin to emulate the power of Nature.

After filling up the car with petrol at £1 a litre (you lucky American drivers!), it occurred to me that Nature is protecting itself, applying some draconian measures to ensure that some measure of equilibrium is maintained.

The fact that the petroleum-producing capacity of one of the biggest polluters in the world was severely limited possibly is an indication of a cause-and-effect loop. We produce petroleum, we drive our cars, destroy the ozone layer, heat up the oceans, which drive the hurricanes that destroy our ability to produce petroleum.

I’m aware that I’m attaching the idea of conciousness and awareness to an “unintelligent” planet, but there may be an argument that when a system reaches the complexity of a planet, with all its associated process, a change to one element leads to a equilibrating change by another; i.e. the system protects itself, albeit reactively.

This is not what environmentalists would want to hear, but indications are that each atrocity visited on the planet is met by a counter-attack from the planet. It may be that no matter how badly we behave, we will always get a slap.

Take the Boxing Day tsunami. A hundred years or so ago, the number of dead would be two orders of magnitude smaller. The only reason so many died is that so many were alive in the first place. Same goes in Africa. The land can only support so many people, so those it cannot support don’t make it. Callous though it sounds, sending aid only prolongs the suffering. Aid doesn’t adjust the properties of the region, it merely postpones the effects of that region.

The only way out of the loop is to alter the properties of the region; e.g. irrigate the whole of Africa. However, this is somewhat beyond the Will, if not the Wit, of Man. I suspect that if we were to do so, Nature would come up with some way of defending itself.

Attempts to homogenize the world into a evenly-productive sphere would only cause stagnation. Nature requires extremes and differences to drive those processes which allow Life, and therefore Man, to exist.

So, I think that there will come a point where Nature’s retaliation to our relentless rape and infestation of the planet will meet the rate of our infestation and an uneasy calm will ensue. That’s when things will get interesting.

1 I’m not including animal life in my definition of Nature. Animal life, humans aside, have the least impact on the planet. I think, anyway.

Soverignty Violation ™

While America may have embraced it, they didn’t invent it. And despite my ™ label, they haven’t patented it, although given the US patent laws, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Altering how other countries run has been a hobby of the superpowers for centuries. The men in power sit in their gentlemen’s clubs, tweaking trade policy here, installing puppet rulers there, basically playing Monopoly with the World. And if you run out of Hotels, or money, you can leave, or have a coup. Hey, its not like its your country.

Now, the World has calmed down. Most countries are in charge of themselves. Apart from the odd civil war, the colours on the geo-political map remain constant. This, however, does not mean that those men in power have to forsake their favourite hobby.

Now, I live in a country where the leaders are chosen by the people. Democracy, right? So naturally I take Democracy to be way forward. However, there are various other ways of operating going on in the World. And the people in those countries are probably mostly content with how their countries work. They’re used to it, they know how it works. So why do the majority feel the need to try and foist their way of life onto others?

It’s a parallel with organised religion. Hello, Mr Inca. What, you sacrifice people to the gods? Hmm, I must kill you all and turn whoever is left into Christians. Now out of my way and point me to your gold. Thou shalt not kill, by the way.

When the Soviet Union and Communism collapsed and Captialism arrived, the Russian people couldn’t handle it. Even now, it doesn’t work for them. I believe that it costs a months wages to hire a babysitter for the night. Now, are you going to tell them that they should be happy to live with Capitalism, when under their previous regime, everything they needed was provided?

The only reason the Superpower du jour can do what they want is because no-one else can stop them. Even attempting to do so under the auspices of the United Nations has no weight. What do you mean, we’re not allowed to go to war on Iraq? Welllllll, we’re going to, so there. What are you going to do about it, Kofi? Or you, Anne? Honestly, Kofi and Anne. Sounds like Tom and Jerry. Do you expect people to take you seriously?

I guess I’m against people foisting their ways or beliefs on others. If Communism was the prevalent doctrine, and the Superpowerski forced us to change our way of life, we’d be pissed. If I lived in a jungle, quietly worshipping trees, I’d be pissed if someone in a shiny hat told me to stop that heathen nonsense and start worshipping some made-up bloke in the sky.

Is Aid for America Right?

It is the done thing these days that nations support each other, especially in times of crisis. Which is why everyone in the world is sending Aid to America to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Even countries whom America has pounded in one way or another has sent aid; e.g. Afghanistan, Iran to name but two, prompting Graeme Norton to brand it “Sarcastic” Aid.

I was blown away by how quickly the World responded to the Tsunami last year. Britons stumped up an astonishing amount, quickly embarrassing the amount the government had pledged.

I just get the feeling that automatically pledging aid in every case isn’t always right. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the devasted nation is the richest in the world, and even third world countries are sending aid. I understand that most of this aid is token, but sending aid to America is like endorsing the US administrations lack of regard for their own people and their interventionist foreign policy1.

I think America should be rather more introspective in their spending and concentrate on their internal problems. Bringing their brand of righteousness to the world2 while their own citizens wait 8 days for aid seriously undermines their credibility, if stomping American values round the world gives you any cred in the first place.

As for Aid, the people of the Southern US unquestionably need help, but they shouldn’t have to rely on Aid from poorer countries when their own government is pissing away money violating the soverignty of other nations.

1 At least they haven’t asked for any.
2 Mainly by the sword, I hasten to add.

First to Third in Seconds

From across the pond, I watch the scenes on the news of the devastation in Louisiana and elsewhere with a mixture of emotions. Obviously, sadness at the loss of live, destruction of property and the suffering of the people.

What also occurs to me is that, from a dispassionate point of view, it is very interesting to watch how a First World society handles being thrust back into the Third World overnight. The scenes from New Orleans are not far removed from those in Africa, and Afghanistan, and Iraq.

For the first time, American citizens, on their home soil, are witnessing the conditions similar to those that result from American and Allied military action overseas, albeit as a result of an Act of Nature1. The response to this disaster from the Government is not being met with the approval of the American people, least of all those made homeless by Katrina. 10bn dollars must pale into insignificance against the money spent on the “conflicts / police actions” in the Middle East. Given that hurricanes are a yearly problem in the Carribean, the citizens of the Southern US must be shaking their heads in disbelief at the time it is taking to solve this humanitarian crisis. Not least the inhabitants of New Orleans, who have been living below sea level since New Orleans was built and who must surely have simply been waiting for this to happen.

I am also aghast to hear radio reports that people are committing first degree crimes and to read statements from the National Guard that they are willing to use deadly force to quell this lawlessness. I am not convinced deadly force is the answer; however, it is shocking that, if the reports are to be belived that such lawlessness is happening. Shooting at rescue helicopters? Rape? Murder? What is going on? Are we to believe that American culture is capable of resorting to such acts after just a few days of, admittedly, hellish experiences? I would be very, very angry at my situation but I’m not sure I would resort to first degree crime2.

If I lived in New Orleans, I would be, to put it mildly and diplomatically, extremely annoyed at the present administration for the diversion of funds into a questionable war in Iraq. It will be very interesting to view the fallout of these events, and the effects on the Bush Administrification and the American way of life, now that they have witnessed the Third World first hand.

1 Maybe Nature is pissed off that the US has not ratified Kyoto. Who knows.
2 Thankfully, I have never been in this situation, so I can’t judge anybody.