Time to panic: the world is running out of [fill in the blank] 

Posted: April 17, 2016 by oldbrew in alarmism, humour, media, opinion, Uncertainty

Empty supermarket shelves before Hurricane Sandy [credit: Wikipedia]

Empty supermarket shelves before Hurricane Sandy [credit: Wikipedia]

Running out of…sanity? Probably not, but the media has to get its ‘news’ stories from somewhere, as this GWPF report implies.

What explains our insatiable appetite for stories about shortages? Ever since Thomas Malthus warned of imminent food shortages and mass starvation in 1779, the spectre of a Malthusian resource catastrophe has resurfaced among each new generation of pessimists.

In case you missed it, the world is on the cusp of a pencil crayon shortage. As the story goes, the worldwide adult colouring book craze has spurred a run on pencils, and the companies that make them are struggling to keep up with demand. “A surge in the number of people buying adult colouring books has threatened pencil stocks worldwide,” the UK’s Independent newspaper blared recently.

The claim, if it isn’t already obvious, is silly. Families aren’t getting into fisticuffs with each other in the stationery aisle for that last box of Crayolas (though that would be amusing to see). Besides, a representative of Faber-Castell, the top colour-pencil maker, later assured the mindfulness masses that while it has had to boost production to keep up with demand, it is “not seeing a shortage.”

It would be easy to accuse the newspaper, and all the other media outlets that went on to report the deficit of pencils, of hyping a non-story. But the media are only selling what everyone is buying, and the pencil shortage narrative fits all too conveniently into a chronic obsession we have with the idea that the world is running out of stuff.

Call it shortage porn. In the past few years, there have been hysterical reports about the world running out of sugar, single-malt whisky, limes, Lego, oil, bananas, soybeans, coffee, wine, olive oil, avocados, chocolate, cauliflower, bacon, sriracha, water, tungsten, sand, Velveeta, Internet, and in just the last month, hops and vanilla, to name only a few.

What’s behind the insatiable appetite for panicky warnings? More importantly, just how real are these shortages?

View original: Time To Panic: The World Is Running Out Of [Fill In The Blank] | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  1. Fanakapan says:

    Colouring Books, Boaty McBoatface, something is seriously wrong, am I the only one to notice ? 🙂

  2. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    “There is no shortage of stuff, and there never will be”


    Does sanity count 😉

  3. oldbrew says:

    The world won’t run out of commodity speculators making money by talking up shortages.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    The Club Of Rome has been pushing the “Running Out !!!” scare since the 1970’s “The Limits To Growth”. They are the same folks pushing the Global Warming Scare via Agenda 21.

    Just say no…

  5. ren says:

    Temperature in the morning in Western Europe on 18/04/2016.

  6. ren says:

    Two NASA spacecraft have provided the most comprehensive movie ever of a mysterious process at the heart of all explosions on the sun: magnetic reconnection.

    Magnetic reconnection happens when magnetic field lines come together, break apart, and then exchange partners, snapping into new positions and releasing a jolt of magnetic energy. This process lies at the heart of giant explosions on the sun such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which can fling radiation and particles across the solar system.

    Magnetic field lines, themselves, are invisible, but the sun’s charged plasma particles course along their length. Space telescopes can see that material appearing as bright lines looping and arcing through the sun’s atmosphere, and so map out the presence of magnetic field lines.

    Looking at a series of images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), scientists saw two bundles of field lines move toward each other, meet briefly to form what appeared to be an “X” and then shoot apart with one set of lines and its attendant particles leaping into space and one set falling back down onto the sun.

    To confirm what they were seeing, the scientists turned to a second NASA spacecraft, the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI). RHESSI collects spectrograms, a kind of data that can show where exceptionally hot material is present in any given event on the sun. RHESSI showed hot pockets of solar material forming above and below the reconnection point, an established signature of such an event. By combining the SDO and RHESSI data, the scientists were able to describe the process of what they were seeing, largely confirming previous models and theories, while revealing new, three-dimensional aspects of the process.

  7. oldbrew says:

    ren: magnetism is invisible so what is the video showing?

    OK here’s the answer: ‘Magnetic field lines, themselves, are invisible, but the sun’s charged plasma particles course along their length.’

    This description is a bit suspect IMO: ‘Magnetic reconnection happens when magnetic field lines come together, break apart, and then exchange partners, snapping into new positions and releasing a jolt of magnetic energy.’

    Magnetic field lines can’t ‘come together’ AFAIK. They are a concept not a physical reality.

    ‘field lines are a “mere” mathematical construction’
    ‘Magnetic fields are continuous, and do not have discrete lines’

    NB all this is off-topic.

  8. tom0mason says:

    It would be a bad day for news editors everywhere if we ran out of shortages to report on slow news day.
    Imagine the panic headline —

    ‘UN/IMF/WWF/GP Report: World Scarcity of Shortages!’

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    I think you meant a Shortage of Scarcities….