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The Fragility of Civilisation By John Steele
This story illustrates how easy it would be for modern societies to spiral into chaos, given their staggering complexity, and hence lack of resilience:
“SÃO PAULO, Brazil — A truckers’ strike that has thrown Brazil into chaos entered its sixth day on Saturday, with protesters blocking traffic on hundreds of highways, supermarkets rationing fruit and gas station pumps running dry. São Paulo, Brazil’s financial center and home to 12 million people, declared a state of emergency on Friday. By Saturday, 11 airports around the country had run out of fuel. Uber drivers joined the strike and blocked trucks from exiting an oil refinery in northern Brazil. The government urged Brazilians to limit their water consumption, as uncertainty grew over how long the strike would last. President Michel Temer ordered the military to break up the strike, and the government said late Friday that 45 percent of barriers on the highways had been removed. But the truckers’ union said it still wouldn’t deliver any goods. A 50 percent rise in fuel prices over the past year sparked the strike. Truckers are demanding lower gas prices, as well as reductions in taxes and tolls.”
Food for modern cities primarily depends upon a non-stop flow of trucks, and the “just in time” supermarket system empties its shelves within days, or even quicker without the lifeblood of trucks. It is a good argument for having at least a few months, if not one years’ supply of goods on hand. You never know what way the winds of social chaos may blow your door down, or try to.