The End of the Industrial World - Beyond Y2K : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This fragment is quoted from Shadows in the Sun , by Wade Davis (1998). As you read it, you'll become privy to something that is equal to y2k in its catastrophic economic potential. Just like being Gary North in 1996! This fragment contains amazing echoes of y2k. It is metaphor and also just plain truth.



The day that has haunted the rubber industry for sixty years will dawn like any other. The wind along the shores of the South China sea will pass over the land, and the sun, rising the length of Asia, will slowly burn away the haze from the plantations that are the source of 93 per cent of the world's natural rubber. In fields the size of nations, shadows will merge with the silver trunks of millions of identical trees, the most recently domesticated of all the major crops, one vast genetic clone spawned but a century ago from a handful of seeds taken from the Amazon and sown in the pristine soil of Southeast Asia.

As Chinese and Tamil workers fan out through the plantings, the wind picks up, scattering foliage that falls unnaturally from the branches. The leaves, fresh and pliant a week before, are withered and dry, blackened with lesions. The dark eruptions mean only one thing: the South American leaf blight, a fungal pestilence so virulent as to have thwarted all efforts to cultivate rubber in its native Amazonian homeland, has finally reached the shores of Asia.

In the ensuing weeks every resource will be mobilized in an attempt to isolate and contain the outbreak. On the large estates massive applications of fungicides provide some relief, but on the scattered family farms, source of 80 per cent of the production, the disease proves impossible to control. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian officials hunt for the source of the infestation; so fearful have they been of this potential calamity that they have never permitted a commercial airline to fly directly to their country from any South American nation known to harbor the fungus. But it is too late; however the blight jumped the Pacific Ocean, the threat is the same; the end of the natural rubber industry as we know it.

In America consumers lulled into complacency by faith in the wizardy of synthetic chemistry will wake to the realization that the world still moves on natural rubber. Two adn half million tires are made every day, and at least a third of the rubber in every one comes from a tree. For many critical applications there is no viable substitute. Without natural rubber airplanes cannot land safely; the aircraft carrier is rendered obsolete. Trucking is crippled, interstate commerce severely compromised. Dismay sweeps the medical profession as doctors and hospital administrators learn that they, too, depend on natural rubber for a host of crucial products. Speculators make a killing as the price of rubber goes through the roof.

This nightmare, improbable as it may seem, is an open secret in the rubber industry. Ernie Imle, a retired pathologist, knows what could happen if the leaf blight crosses the Pacific: decades ago in Central America, he witnessed an outbreak. "It moves like a blowtorch through the plantings," he says. A wiry, soft-spoken man who devoted a good part of his career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finding a way to cultivate rubber in the Americas, Imle adds, "We've had a period of grace for fifty years. But eventually every disease get everywhere. It's only a matter of time before it reaches Asia."

In the words of Ernie Imle, "a sword of Damocles hangs over the neck of the industrial world. We've created a situation whereby a relatively simple act of biological terrorism, the systematic introduction of spores so small as to be readily concealed in a shoe, could wipe out the plantations, shut down the production of natural rubber, and precipitate an economic crisis of unprecedented dimensions. And no one even knows about it. What's more, it all could have been avoided."

-- Runway Cat (, January 03, 1999


Very, very good. You're posting only points out the weakness of our system. God help us if any natural disaster happens during our future troubles (a natural disaster of some kind will almost certainly occur). We're all on a ride and we can't get off.


-- Kilgore Trout (, January 03, 1999.

On top of Y2K, what if this years weather disasters are the worst ever in comparison to 1998, which was worse than 1997? What happens in 2000, if it becomes the worst ever and we cant respond they way we would like to?

Watched this on the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Excellent. Now in transcript form:

YEAR OF DISASTERS -- Phil Ponce recalls a year of devastating weather with Janet Abramovitz, senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, Bob Watson, director of the Environment Department at the World Bank; and John Clizbe, vice president of disaster services at the American Red Cross. ... 29.html

-- Diane J. Squire (, January 04, 1999.

Rubber doesn't mold or decay or anything, does it? Speculation could be a good investment..

What other weaknesses are there in the system? Anyone?

-- Leo (, January 04, 1999.

Diane, thanks for the PBS weather diaster link. I missed the show, and I needed somthing to use in my letter to editor of our local co-op. They've glossed over y2k, which I will also address, but what set me off is the following:

"Treaty spells 'economic pain' for U.S. consumers." (The Kyoto Protocol climate treaty calling for reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emission.) Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) has called the treaty, "dead on arrival. "Studies by the federal Energy Information Administration say "full U.S. compliance with the treaty would reportedly cause virtually all energy costs to soar, causing an overall drop in the nation's economic performance. Besides the gasoline price hikes, the study says electricity costs would jump to 86 percent by 2010 compared to what prices would be if no emissions cuts were made." Of course, global warming, or the population chocking on pollution, is not a concern. (Just charge higher prices boys, keep the gasoline and electric flowing, keep those stockholders and CEO's happy, and health be damned.)

Even if y2k is just a blip, which I don't believe, we had best keep on preparing for alternative energy, and soon. The Kyoto Protocol Treaty and the deregulation of utilities, provide the perfect excuse for raising prices by "86 percent by 2010," and how many will be able to afford that. The sooner we break our dependence on the greedy corporate rapists, the better off we will be; doubt it, just read, "When Corporations Rule the World," by David Korten.

-- gilda jessie (, January 04, 1999.

I'm always horrified to see how many errors I've made when my post appears. I know how to spell "disaster" and "choking", but I'm blind as a bat, and I never was a good typist.

But I have a love/hate relationship with my co-op and feel they are part of the problem when it comes to y2k and the environment. IMO, their statement in the local co-op paper is "high, apple pie, in the sky hopes,". They say, "We are confident your electric-powered alarm clock will wake you, like it or not, when Jan. 1, 2000, rolls around."

-- gilda jessie (, January 04, 1999.

Had an interesting conversation with a VP of the coal company I worked for back when Bush pushed the Clean Air Act through. Asked him how long he thought it would be, before energy production was forced to use completely clean methods such as OTS and solar cell. He thought not too long - by 2015 or so at the latest.

-- Paul Davis (, January 04, 1999.

Whoops, there goes another million rubber tree plants!

-- Tom Knepper (, January 05, 1999.

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