January 28, 2012
Well, glancing over the news this week, I could tell you that the EU has decided to help punish Iran with an oil embargo, to be instituted over the next six months so as to avoid punishing themselves by abruptly discontinuing their oil supply. Or, that Iran appears to have kindly offered to help them along by simply banning the sale of oil to the EU starting next week. (Oh, SNAP!) And that Iran will open talks with the UN nuclear inspectors tomorrow in an attempt to show that they are not in fact working on a nuclear arms program even though the US, Israel and the EU already know that and have said as much. Or that all this falderal is probably more about regime change and the hope that we can slip in a Western-friendly government that will privatize Iranian oil for the benefit of Big Oil (and, of course, the rest of mankind.)
I could mention the cautious rejoicing brought about by 2.8 percent growth in our moribund economy in the last quarter of 2011, though that was the quarter that contained our annual Christmas buying spree. And that we have already seen an uptick in unemployment claims from the loss of those temporary pre-Christmas retail jobs. Or that, in spite of last quarter’s growth, the Fed is still worried about the sustainability of that growth throughout the next couple of years.
I could discuss our Energy Information Agency’s new happy-happy forecast for growing US energy production over the next eight years that doesn’t really discuss the problem of decreasing energy returned on the energy invested to produce it. Or that this will likely continue as a drag on the economy and mean continued high costs to we ordinary consumers of energy.
I could toss into the discussion pot the news that the World Health Organization is increasingly concerned about the growth in the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the growing possibility of an epidemic of antibiotic-resistant diseases with continued overuse of antibiotics by physicians and farmers. Or that oceanographers and environmentalists are worried that massive over fishing of our oceans is pushing some species of food fish to the brink of extinction. And that in a string of strange environmental happenings over the last few years, this has been a weirdly warm January for much of the country.
I could even throw some levity into the mix by noting that, if elected President, Newt Gingrich would like to send us back to the moon and John McCain would like to start the project by sending Newt there first.
I could write a blog post discussing any or all of these, but I won’t. I won’t because on this sunny January day, I find I just don’t give a damn. Those in power either will or won’t embargo Iran into an actual shooting war; will or won’t get the economy cranking; will or won’t find a way to maintain this high energy economy on higher-cost, lower-value energy; will or won’t find a way to destroy us and the environment we depend on; will or won’t continue the political circus until the whole rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ match collapses of sheer exhaustion. There is little I can do to influence them one way or the other at this point.
On the other hand, over the next month I can finish planning my spring garden, buy what seeds I need and start my transplants. I can continue to winnow down the list of small repairs around the house – inside until spring, outside after that. I can make sure I maintain my pantry and find ways to keep abreast of and engaged in what’s happening in my neighborhood through the rest of this strange winter.
By next week, February will have blown in – perhaps cold, with snow and ice; perhaps unseasonably warm, with floods and tornadoes. Maybe by then, war will have started. Maybe Europe will have collapsed. Maybe some new environmental catastrophe will have befallen mankind; maybe we will have turned some unexpected corner back toward sanity. I will or won’t have survived these vagaries to talk about it. If so, maybe by next week I will give a damn again. Maybe not.
And so it goes.