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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fiddling As The World Wanes

I used to wonder what it was like to live in Imperial Rome; what was life like in a society that was on decline and falling - at least, declining as it seemed to my perspective, a point of view which was ready to see decline by years of reading Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
What was it like, I wondered, to maintain a steadfast resistance to the obvious truth of Christianity? And after Constantine, what was it like to devolve into chaos and strife?

I sort of guess that I know.

From Eureka Alert:

Even farm animal diversity is declining as accelerating species loss threatens humanity
...Some scientists have termed this the "sixth great extinction episode" in Earth's history, according to Dr. Zakri, noting that the loss of biodiversity is happening faster and everywhere, even among farm animals.

He underlined findings by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization that genetic diversity among livestock is declining.
"The good news is the rate of decline is dropping but the latest data classify 22% of domesticated breeds at risk of extinction," Dr. Zakri said.

Breeds become rare because their characteristics either don't suit contemporary demand or because differences in their qualities have not been recognised. When a breed population falls to about 1,000 animals, it is considered rare and endangered.
Causes of genetic erosion in domestic animals are the lack of appreciation of the value of indigenous breeds and their importance in niche adaptation, incentives to introduce exotic and more uniform breeds from industrialised countries, and product-focused selection.

Among crops, meanwhile, about 75 per cent of genetic diversity was lost in the last century as farmers worldwide switched to genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties and abandoned multiple local varieties. There are 30,000 edible plant species but only 30 crops account for 95% of human food energy, the bulk of which (60%) comes down to rice, wheat, maize, millet and sorghum.

"The decline in the diversity of crops and animals is occurring in tandem with the need to sharply increase world food production and as a changing environment makes it more important than ever to have a large genetic pool to enable organisms to withstand and adapt to new conditions," he said...
 A changing world, a changing climate... and the problems mount.
Scientists see the problems, and they try to evaluate them, and they warn us, but we find it hard to respond, and we wish to maintain our tender dance of weaving in and out between "tipping points" of no-return.

A senior US Senator visits Syrian rebels over the weekend.
What could be the purpose of that? Is there any conceivable purpose other than to maintain an area of conflict for years to come? The influence of radicals in the rebel groups has been demonstrated; our inability to control these groups has been shown over and over again; so why are Republicans and Democrats so insistent upon facilitating civil wars and disturbances of the peace?

The terrible "IFs" are accumulating.

Senator John McCain and his ilk are playing the fiddle while the world burns...

...for the contradictions will kill all of us. For instance, to ensure that nations do not produce their own arsenal of nuclear weapons, the USA must play a role of impartial arbiter between nations; this is a role that goes back to the end of World War II.
If the USA cannot perform this function, if it tilts aggressively to one side, then it cannot dissuade nuclear proliferation by moral persuasion. Instead, it must resort to Rome's favorite remedy of sending in the legions.

In an age that needs leaders, we have partisans.


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