23 October 2006

Keep an eye on Vancouver

For all those concerned about the possibility of a modern day pandemic in Canada, Andrew Nikiforuk suggests our west coast cities will be 'the canary in the coal mine'.

"The next pandemic, if it originates in Asia, will likely invade a West Coast port first, thanks to the volume of trade and traffic Vancouver or Seattle have with other Pacific Rim countries," said Nikiforuk, who won the 2002 Governor General's award for non-fiction for his book "Saboteurs."
Most of us are nowhere near prepared for a cataclysmic event that could disrupt the exquisitely co-ordinated, just-in-time supply chains that feed our utilities, factories and grocery stores.

Remember that, back in your grandparents' day, people usually kept a well-stocked larder, with home-canned vegetables, fruits, bags of flour and sugar and potted meat. Contrast that with our modern lifestyle, where keeping a very limited supply of consumables on hand will be one of the more significant factors working against us.
"Within a week of the invasion, people will have trouble buying food and medical supplies. The cemeteries will overfill and local meatpackers will store the dead in refrigerated trucks.
It isn't going to matter how much money you've got in your bank account if the food supply chain is disrupted. At that point in time, anybody with a hunting rifle and a box of shells will truly be 'the king of his castle'.

Consider also, what would happen if the electricity supply is compromised for any length of time? We saw what happened a few years ago, when we lost our power for only a couple of days. Even if you were prudent enough to have bought a standby generator at some point, unless you're a farmer, I'm guessing you don't have a 200 litre fuel storage tank sitting out behind the garage.
The essayist Ian Welsh thinks our new economic habits of living like hedonistic grasshoppers as opposed to Aesop's prudent ants will disastrously magnify the pandemic's impact. "Our society, as a whole, has no surge protection, no ability to take shocks. We have no excess beds, no excess equipment, no excess ability to produce vaccines or medicines, nothing.
It sure won't be pretty, as the inevitable breakdown of social controls in densely packed urban neighbourhoods spills out into the suburbs.

But hey... it could never happen in Canada, right? Right?

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