Monday, September 29, 2008

The Edge of Disaster

Iris: Mommy, sometimes I see really horrible things.

Me: What kind of things?

Iris: When I see something sharp, like a knife, I think that it could cut me.

Me: That's just prudent.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. I imagine all sorts of possible scenarios. Fortunately, I found a career where I can put my imagination to good use. The day after I attended a meeting to discuss data replication for disaster recovery, the Yorba Linda earthquake struck.

I was reading this issue of Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy at work the other day, and I wanted to share a couple of quotes.

From The Rise of Agri-Powers by Andrew Pickford:
Rome experienced a growing distance between food production and consumption when it pushed its grain producing regions out from areas around the capital, to Sicily, and then Northern Africa and Egypt, to free up land for higher value-add activities or simply leisure pursuits.
...
Short-term fiscal logic exerted a significant long-term cost on the unity of empire. Just as the fiscal cost of maintaining access to crude oil is prohibitive, and potentially avoidable, so was the cost to the Roman Empire of maintaining access, and control over, grain producing regions. Not only did it have to ensure open and free sea lines of communication, it also had to maintain peace and order in the grain producing provinces.
From The Strategic Earthquake by Gregory R. Copley:
The entire re-thinking of the issue of disaster response by governments and their armed forces relates to the movement of thinking which postulates that national security is a "whole of government" and even a "whole of society" engagement. The first step toward addressing large-scale natural disasters and humanitarian crises lies in recognizing that a new mindset must create linkages across government and NGO capabilities--literally across confilicting "corporate cultures"--so that more efficient capabilities can be created to resolve the longer-term effects of major disasters.
I finished reading Stephen Flynn's The Edge of Disaster over the weekend. You can listen to his four-part series on NPR.org that covers four of the areas discussed in the book. From Chapter 10, A Resilient Society:
While only the smallest percentage of us are likely to find ourselves victims of a terrorist act, at some point nearly all of us will see our lives or property endangered by a natural disaster. Those odds only climb as we continue to allow our nation to become more brittle by neglecting critical infrastructure, avoiding actions on a personal and society level that could reduce our vulnerabilities, and forgoing investments in the frontline professionals we are expecting to respond to our calls for help.
September 30 is a hazard of another kind. It is one of the few days of the year that people can cash out of hedge funds.

To counterbalance the doom and gloom, I put extra effort into dressing stylishly today. ;-) I also have two knitting and a sewing project to share as soon as I tame my to-do list and the new computer system at home. Ahh, the end of fiscal year madness, exacerbated by DH's travel schedule.

2 comments:

  1. "Just as the fiscal cost of maintaining access to crude oil is prohibitive, and potentially avoidable, so was the cost to the Roman Empire of maintaining access, and control over, grain producing regions."

    He jumps to oil so quickly, but isn't there a more direct lesson about food in there? The distances are longer, but is asparagus from Chile in winter any better than wheat from wheat from north Africa?

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  2. The entire article deals mainly with food security. It only appears to jump abruptly to oil because I pulled the quotes from the end. Go to the corporate library and read the entire article. I think you will find it very enlightening.

    The article author is Australian and the journal is not American. Thus, the focus is more global.

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