May you live in interesting times. – The “Chamberlain Curse“
It’s easy for Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba to get the impression, from the great buzzing ball of sales pitches and propaganda claims (colloquially referred to as “news”) in circulation in the month of June, common era year 2021, that the year of the alleged recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is more interesting than the pandemic year itself.
People are finally headed back to stores, screaming about masks as they go, only to find empty store shelves. It seems that ‘just in time’ manufacturing strategies, that require universal, prompt, and efficient (not to mention fossil-fuel-guzzling) transportation networks to deliver on their promises (right, Jeff?), don’t work so well when the transportation networks are shut down because people who can afford to do so are in their comfy holes hiding from viruses (the agents of whom are training water cannons on those who can’t afford to hide), and then (fancy that?) can’t be restored fast enough when those people crawl out of their holes and instantly demand goods and services. Oh, and continue to insist on getting paid handsomely for not going to work.
Mind you, given the rate at which gasoline prices are going up, it may prove difficult for those in their holes to get to work. Not to mention the price of just about everything else, including those groceries that people can’t get onto store shelves. Which is cold sick for those “essential workers” who have been hammering away at their jobs, COVID or no COVID, this entire time, and have no more money in their pockets now than when the pandemic started.
Meanwhile, two United Nations-sponsored organizations, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released the findings of their first joint conference, which, unsurprisingly, linked success in preserving the diversity of life on Earth with success in stemming the deluge of carbon dioxide that human industry is pumping into the atmosphere – and has been ever since the start of the Industrial Revolution, two centuries ago.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba wonders just how well ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing and delivery strategies would fare with a transportation network based on sailing ships and horse-drawn wagons, which is about all that would be allowed under regimes designed to reduce carbon emissions to the levels required. Especially after e.g. lithium and rare-earth shortages put paid to the fantasies of a world based on a ‘green’ electricity grid, as well as to most forms of computing including blockchain and artificial intelligence. And, for how many seconds those crawling out of their holes and demanding services (including those claiming support of the IPBES-IPCC directives with their lips, but hell no not with their personal daily conveniences) would tolerate the situation.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba reads how the leaders of the G7 have made lots of lofty promises about supporting actions against climate change, but have failed to deliver the necessary funds, and shame on them.
Perhaps those leaders recall the experience of a recent President of the Maldives – who won election on a campaign based on climate change politics, was then forcibly deposed, and, upon attempting to regain power, barely survived an assassination attempt.
Perhaps those leaders remember Donald Trump, and how, had COVID not happened, he would still be President of the United States of America. Because he represents the authentic sentiments of the People of this nation. Sentiments presented in the form of actions, not words. Actions like repopulating the airlines and purchasing every third item on Amazon (speaking of ‘just in time’ and slave-labor “essential workers” in service thereof, Juneteenth fans). Actions that scream “Screw climate change! Get us our damned stuff! And if that means bringing back the Cretaceous period, bring it! Life survived then, we will survive now! Dammit!!”
Back when elephants had fur, the parental units charged with the onerous task of keeping YFNA in fresh culture medium belonged to a community that survived the Great Depression and World War II, and still remembered what those things meant to life and the pursuit of happiness.
One of the expressions commonplace in that household, which [ahem] did not number among those which are currently using WFH savings to buy houses in Hawai‘i from which its members expect to telecommute to New York in perpetuity, was:
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
For decades, YFNA thought that this was an example of ancient Yankee wisdom. He was therefore profoundly surprised when he learned, through the University of the Internet, that it was a 20th-century coinage, first uttered by Calvin Coolidge (then Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts) in response to the entry of the USA into World War I. The expression was a key component of domestic national propaganda during the second World War, when it reminded people that buying stuff ‘because they could’ led directly to inflation (see ‘gas prices’), shortages (see empty shelves, and the denial of housing to any US citizen not a COVID millionaire), and crime. In other words, personal restraint (voluntary or imposed, vaccine and mask haters), enacted across a culture [points in the direction of China], is the only thing that makes the desirable but hard things happen.
In a commentary on the World War II poster featuring the slogan, this line appears:
In today’s atmosphere of plenty of everything materially, the amount of waste is so excessive that living by the standards of the 1940s would be considered a condition of poverty and deprivation.
Indeed. Even when that condition is essential for us to save our collective asses.