Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It is estimated that the musical “Spiderman” on Broadway will have to attract full houses for seven years before it covers its costs and anyone makes any money out of it, the backers that is. Four performers have been injured so far and with technical difficulties the opening has been put back once gain; the producers say for the last time. Musical theatre and opera are the most costly to produce and too many lose their all but somehow this seems to me to really go way over the top. Seven years of full houses? What happens if the east coast suffers more raging storms such as it recently has, New York is blanketed in snow for a week or more and people can’t get to the theatre? Do the seven years get extended by a year or two or, with inflation, will tickets simply become so prohibitively expensive people won’t want to go to the theatre anyway, not that seat prices haven’t been heading that way for some time? Just think what it costs to attend a performance at Covent Garden. But hey! Who cares about money? It’s only money and this is show biz, man! As long as everyone is getting their jollies that’s all that really matters. Isn’t it?
But talking of storms what IS happening to the world’s weather and just as important, why? What have we humans been doing now to degrade our beautiful planet?
We’ve been having some pretty heavy rain here in Vamos but why is half the world flooded, and I mean flooded, I don’t mean a mere six inches or so of water? The floods in Australia have been devastating but then so have those in Sri Lanka, China, Brazil, Germany, Pakistan, parts of America, and now South Africa. The amount of water rushing down the streets of towns in Queensland is something I have never seen before and I doubt many people have. It has been like a veritable inland tsunami. And it has spread to Victoria where it is described as an inland sea.

Bees are dying by the million and the global cost of replacing insect pollination is around $190bn every year. You don't have to be an environmentalist to care about protecting the Earth's wildlife. Chinese fruit farmers now have to pay people to pollinate apple trees because there are no longer enough bees to do the job for free. And it's not just the number of bees that is dwindling rapidly - as a direct result of human activity, species are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 times greater than the natural average. The Earth's natural environment is also suffering. In the past few decades alone, 20% of the oceans' coral reefs have been destroyed, with a further 20% badly degraded or under serious threat of collapse, while tropical forests equivalent in size to the UK are cut down every two years. For the first time in history, we can now begin to quantify just how expensive degradation of nature really is. A recent, two-year study for the United Nations Environment Programme, entitled The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity put the damage done to the natural world by human activity in 2008 at between $2tn (£1.3tn) and $4.5tn. A second study, for the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment puts the figure at 11% of global economic output.
Of course these figures are just estimates - there is no exact science to measuring human impact on the natural world - but they show that the risks to the global economy of large-scale environmental destruction are huge. The reason the world is waking up to the real cost of the degradation of the Earth's wildlife and resources - commonly referred to as biodiversity loss - is because, until now, no one has had to pay for it. The fact is increased flooding is partly due to land conversion by humans.
Frightening is it not? Especially as it is estimated that within twenty years hunger will become virtually universal.

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