Friday, 6 January 2012
Disasters and Business Models
The Guardian has a nice short piece on the inability of the UK to cope with any kind of major disaster for more than a week; and by cope it means, supply food and water and maintain basic amenities. This is the result of a number of factors, but in terms of business modelling it is part of the efficiency, 'just-in-time supply' and profit-driven logic of neoliberalism and particularly market globalisation, which has resulted in the creation of a remarkably fragile socio-economic system. This isn't news to anyone with any level of familiarity with peak oil, the limits of growth, ecological economics etc. However, it is certainly pleasing to see this knowledge slowly percolating into the mainstream media. The comments are very reasonable too (no knee-jerk denialists). I agree with several of the commentators that a week is rather optimistic; the supermarkets would probably empty within a few days; and the problem is not unique to the UK, the suburban US would be hit harder. Unfortunately the twenty-first century will be one of resource scarcity, increasing ecological degradation and climate chaos, so there will likely be no shortage of such disruptions and disasters. Welcome to the anthropocene and the peak of industrial civilisation, a long descent beckons.