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80% of world’s wheat crop in danger 19, June 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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ug99

If you’re of a panicky persuasion, don’t read on. But if, however, you read articles quoting scientists earnestly informing the public that the world will end in an unfeasibly short period of time with something of a wry, sarcastic smile on your face, then this short piece is for you.

Terrorism is not going to kill us all. Neither is global warming nor an asteroid strike. As much as those with a vested interest will, no doubt, extemporise on just how quickly, efficiently and potentially simply these threats will inevitably wipe out x percentage of human life, none will have the chance as we’ll all be dead through lack of food and an almighty scrap for the last few biscuits. Scientists are warning that there is a virulent crop disease winging its way throughout the world as we speak that has the potential to, as the strap line goes, kill 80% of the world’s wheat supplies.

As the more insightful of you can probably glean through my laboured sarcasm, I am not overly worried. Indeed, I never am about these apocryphal apocalyptic threats and warnings. Yes, indeed, I have no doubts that 80% of the crops could be wiped out by this. I’d counter by saying that 100% of the world’s crops could be wiped out if people across the world took a can of hair spray to all the plants. However, just as I doubt that the latter scenario will happen, so too I doubt that the former one will come to fruition either.

By far the worst offender in the league of exaggerating threats are those in the terrorism-science-newspaper nexus. One again, yes, as The Daily Fear soberly informs us, 1 gram of anthrax has the potential to kill 10,000,000 people, but that is a long way from the point. The hamartia for all of these toxin-terrorist fears is in the dispersal. This is immensely tricky. It is never the case of simply throwing a bag of the stuff in the air in a train station; these things just don’t work like that. They have, depending on the substance involved, to be refined to a highly specific degree, to be atomised to the perfect size, to be delivered by the perfect vehicle, in the perfect place, with perfect weather conditions, at the perfect time of day to be remotely effective. The greatest example is with Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese apocalyptic terror group. They had literally billions of dollars for research, world-class laboratories for experimentation, a guru of a spiritual leader for inspiration, significant immunity from the Japanese authorities as they were seen as a religious group, a Uranium enriching farm in Australia, thousands of willing brainwashed volunteers and yet they could not accomplish anything approaching a successful chemical or biological attach. For sure, their attack on the subway in Tokyo which killed 12 people and injured thousands was horrific, but, in the context of the hyperbole-ridden bile spewed out by newspapers, that attack was an abject and utter failure. Indeed, weeks before that attack, they left a truck full of some hideous ‘1 gram can kill a million people’ toxins outside the American naval base in Yokohama. Their truck duly sprayed the area, did whatever it was supposed to do but the first that Aum heard about it was when the police called them and asked them to move their truck because it was causing an obstruction. No one was killed or injured and no one even knew they had been ‘infected’ or attacked they had failed so miserably. So, if Aum, with their incredible advantages failed, I feel confident that Bubba or Ahmad will fail cooking up toxic soups in their kitchen.

I don’t know any kind of ‘counter-science’ to this story of ug99, the virus attacking crops. But I sneer disdainfully in its general direction, confident that these things just never happen, that the media love their terrifying headlines and that the world will carry on as per usual in blissful ignorance.

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