Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Examining Time's Crystal Ball

In the most recent issue of Time Magazine they have a very interesting special feature called “What’s Next?” in which they make several predictions for the coming year or so. Now, as no stranger to making bold predictions, I thought it would be worth to look at a couple of them here and now.

Hope on the Horizon? – They state that the 13th annual U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, scheduled for this December in Indonesia, could provide more results than the first 12 combined. Why you ask? Well it’s not just hippie-esque optimism here. After the International Panel on Climate Change has FINALLY equated Climate Change with human actions, the deniers seem to be running out steam. Also, in February, the G-8 Nations, along with some of their developing counterparts, agreed that carbon emissions need to be significantly cut. Of course, it does take politicians longer than toddlers to reach obvious conclusions, but Time seems to hope that some change is looming and an international carbon market could be happening.

Well as a hippie optimist, I like to believe this one. But I can’t help but wonder, is it enough? I hate to say it, but a carbon market is probably not enough. A massive environmental and economic overhaul is needed. This kind of thing is far too important to be left to politicians I dare say. I hope some more daring, wealthy private citizens follow the lead of Al Gore and start to do something about this really important problem that we are faced with.

On the Other Hand… – They have some rather bleak thoughts on the two most cheery places in the world, Iraq and Darfur. Now that’s nothing all that special, not really hard for anyone to see either of those glasses to be half empty, but I still find their information and outlook to be very interesting.

In Iraq, they state the one thing that is obvious to anyone not in the US Government. Iraq is deeply divided and it is only getting worse. The Kurds are carving out their own territory in the North, which is where the majority of oil just so happens to be. On the other hand the Shi’ites and the Sunnis are busy battling all over the place, something that the writers at Time see turning into a brutal ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis in the near future.

While the thoughts of ethnic cleansing and the Shi’ites assuming control (the sect that is affiliated with Iran of course) is not scary enough, the Time writers failed to mention one point. If the Kurds gain more and more autonomy there is an interesting question about the Kurdish minorities in neighbouring Syria and Turkey. Would they be interested in joining a potentially independent Kurdistan? (Hmmm…the good people at Microsoft recognize Kurdistan as a word, how interesting.)

Good thing that the US came in to bring peace and stability to the region eh?

Speaking of ethnic cleansing, there is talk about Darfur. Not to be outdone by the corrupt nature of the United States, China plays a huge role in this crisis. How you ask? Well China has oil reserves in Sudan and so they have been providing the Sudanese government with weapons to help them carry out their current atrocities. They have also blocked sanctions at the U.N. due to their veto power in the Security Council. Our Global politics are so efficient are they not?

It is hard to see the mess that is Darfur getting better anytime soon. I fully expect it to turn into a buzz word like Somalia, Rwanda, Myanmar, East Timor, The Congo and many, many others have become.

The Pyramids Get Company – Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World named a stunning 22 centuries ago, the only one still standing are the Pyramids at Giza, with the others (The Colossus of Rhodes, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Statue of Zeus, The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, The Temple of Artemis and The Lighthouse of Alexandria) having long since collapsed. However a Swiss man has set up The New7Wonders Foundation to name a new set of wonders of the world this year.

My picks you ask? Well the Pyramids deserve to stay without question, but I think that the Great Wall, the Colosseum, Stonhenge, the Acropolis, Angkor Wat, and Machu Picchu should make the exclusive list.

Hmmm…I have been to the location of the Colossus of Rhodes, I have been to Stonehenge and I will be going to the Great Wall this year. I think that I have some more traveling to do.

Buying the Immunity Idol – It should come as no surprise that Fidel Castro is in tough shape right now. At 80 year old it is pretty obvious that he won’t be around much longer. Some powers have shifted over to his younger brother Raul. However, there are some concerns that Raul does not have the same charisma and flair as his older brother. But, a few years ago they found a ton of oil of the Cuban coast, so they say that can buy anyone some charisma.

The discovery of oil reserves for Cuba is an interesting matter. Especially as the situation in Iraq worsens, the US will need to look for some more of the black stuff. I would not be surprised if a soon to be dead-Castro, a soon to be relocated Bush, and a soon to be flowing oil supply could lead to a warming of relations between the US and Cuba that has not existed since the Batista days.

“Drugs, drugs, drugs, which are good, which are bad?” – Joining Iraq and Darfur in the category of bad to worse is Afghanistan. With all of the bodies flying into my hometown of Trenton, it is hard to know it but Afghanistan is going through a period or relative peace at the moment. Time fully expects it to change soon as the weather warms up and the Taliban begins to mount some further offensives.

But the real scary news from that front is the poppy crops. Since the NATO offensive began, the poppy harvests have gone way up. The Afghani government has plans to fight the drugs, but it probably will not be enough. I was startled when I found out that 92% of the world’s base for heroin comes from Afghanistan. Yeah you read that right, 92%!!! Crazy eh? Do not be surprised to see a strong correlation between the situation in Afghanistan and the strength of heroin in the developed world. Makes you wonder why they are there doesn’t it?

Anywho, that is probably enough out of me on this issue. I should probably sign out on this one before I really start to get carried away and really start to get depressing.

Until next time,


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