Sunday, April 17, 2005

More thoughts on Barry Lopez

A great thing about going to watch a lecture by an intelligent, thoughtful person is that it continues to resonate in one's thoughts for days afterward. Today as I ran up the Barr Trail I found myself returning to the themes from Barry Lopez's talk on Thursday night and rolled them around in my mind. He began his talk with three questions: Who are we? Why are we here? Where do we want to go? Indeed these are the questions that people in strange, exotic lands have for the tourist or visitor to their domain. They are also questions we need to constantly ask as we each make our brief sojourns on this planet.

He talked about biology and how everything goes back to the simple fact that we are biological creatures, as is all of life. What does that imply? As we move recklessly forward, continuing to ignore the warning signs of the limits to the capacity of the earth to sustain all the wounds we inflict upon it, we will reach the limits of our biology. Potable water for example, will increasingly be difficult to secure. Lopez suggests that the conflict in Sudan is ultimately not about religion or race, but rather is about water.

This from the WSJ:
"Only 2 percent of the world's water is fresh, and with the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century projecting a 50 percent increase in demand in the next 30 years, food and drinking-water shortages, droughts, devastated agriculture, disease, and even armed conflict over water may be on the horizon. We smell profits! And indeed, over the last five years, stocks in the water sector have leapt 113 percent (while the S&P 500 lost 17 percent), with a 24 percent jump just last year. Companies involved in the $400 billion-a-year global water biz -- delivery and storage of water, construction and maintenance of infrastructure like wastewater-treatment facilities and desalination plants -- have seen their portfolios boom in recent years. Huge corporations like General Electric are investing billions each year in their water holdings. "Water will emerge as the next growth commodity," says hedge-fund manager John Romero."

Viruses and contagions loom and threaten to break out and cause mass casualties.

This Thursday evening we will go to another lecture. This one is entitled "365 days in Tibet" and will be given by Jake Norton. I look forward for more thoughts and ideas to churn through on next weekend's runs.

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