Sunday, October 23, 2005

Impending disasters

These days seem to be full of impending disasters, that one can see coming, almost in slow motion, and that one is entirely powerless to deflect.

On the natural disaster side, the direst one is that in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and its northern areas, where two million face the onset of winter without shelter, because of the October 8th earthquake. Many are stranded in remote areas with roads cut off by landsides from the earthquake, and getting supplies to them or evacuating them by road is extremely difficult. Pakistan's military government finds it extremely difficult to accept Indian help. I hope the US, NATO, Chinese etc., help is adequate - so far it isn't. Disaster looms.

Then there were Katrina, Rita, Wilma - tropical cyclones charted from their birth and courses predicted days in advance, and bringing destruction in their wake. We are due for several more years like this one, according to the charts of hurricane cycles.

There may be the avian flu pandemic that hinges on how virulent the strain of flu is that mutates to be able to spread from human to human, instead of just bird to bird and bird to human right now.

On the political front, the US Government - all three branches - is in crisis. We have the Frist scandal, the DeLay scandal, and Plamegate, which reaches high into the White House. Then, we have the Harriet Miers or worse appointment to the Supreme Court.

In the longer term, one might believe global warming is creeping up on us. If not that, then an energy crisis - or both. On the political front, there is the implosion of countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, going on in slow motion, seemingly unstoppable. Then there are the Islamic fanatics who seem determined to become nuclear suicide bombers.

Or maybe, this is situation normal, and all it is is that I'm a little older. But the coming storms are not going to be easy to weather.

4 comments:

Rajan P. Parrikar said...

You write: "Or maybe, this is situation normal, and all it is is that I'm a little older."

I have often wondered about this myself. Whether it is my awareness at this stage in life that makes it seem so ominous and complex, or have matters really gotten worse. Did people in America living at the height of the Cold War have similar levels of anxiety? There is one major difference now - our generation gets bombarded with news at 5-minutes intervals. Before we have had time to process and digest one calamity another bears down. Speaking of which, I came upon this recently -

"Western politicians queue up to sing its praises. Economists regard it with awe and delight. Other countries are desperate to imitate it. Yet there is another side to China's exploding, double-digit-growth miracle economy - it is turning into one
of the greatest environmental threats the earth has ever faced....
...[China] has now overtaken the United States as the world's leading consumer of four out of the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities - grain, meat, oil, coal and steel. China now lags behind the US only in consumption of oil - and it is rapidly catching up."

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article320565.ece


Warm regards,


r

Rajan P. Parrikar said...

You write: "Or maybe, this is situation normal, and all it is is that I'm a little older."

I have often wondered about this myself. Whether it is my awareness at this stage in life that makes it seem so ominous and complex, or have matters really gotten worse. Did people in America living at the height of the Cold War have similar levels of anxiety? There is one major difference now - our generation gets bombarded with news at 5-minutes intervals. Before we have had time to process and digest one calamity another bears down. Speaking of which, I came upon this recently -

"Western politicians queue up to sing its praises. Economists regard it with awe and delight. Other countries are desperate to imitate it. Yet there is another side to China's exploding, double-digit-growth miracle economy - it is turning into one
of the greatest environmental threats the earth has ever faced....
...[China] has now overtaken the United States as the world's leading consumer of four out of the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities - grain, meat, oil, coal and steel. China now lags behind the US only in consumption of oil - and it is rapidly catching up."

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article320565.ece


Warm regards,


r

Rajan P. Parrikar said...

Arun,

While reading the recently released book "Einstein on Race and Racism" I came upon this passage and remembered the discussion here about what our minds today think the future holds. The book, btw, has a good primer on what Princeton was like in the first half of the 20th C from the racial point of view.

*****Quote
The "World of Tomorrow" was the theme of the World's Fair that opened in the spring of 1939 in New York City's Flushing Meadows...Some 2,800 people a day visited the General Motors "Futurama" exhibit and were treated to a vision of "life in 1960," where technology was so efficient that everyone took two-month vacations, lived in collapsible houses, and drove GM cars cleanly fueled by something called "liquid air." On the way out everyone was given a small GM pin that read: "I have seen the future."
*****Unquote

Arun said...

Little did they know!