It’s a small world – and getting smaller

But the challenges seem to only get larger

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

If you find supply chain glitches and empty store shelves unnerving and disruptive to your daily life and schedule, consider how that same dynamic multiplied on a scale beyond the imagination of most of us impacts economies, markets and economic assumptions around the world.

The US Chamber of Commerce had an online symposium recently which addressed just these questions.

Like many of us as individuals, businesses, governments, and citizens across the planet are wrestling with substantial shifts in the global landscape in every area from food to fuel to trade agreements across cultural and ideological lines.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has, to put it mildly, complicated trade agreements (especially in the realm of fuel) with Europe. Ukraine has also been the breadbasket grain producer for much of Europe and Asia – primarily corn, wheat, and barley. As you might guess, not much agricultural work is being done in 2022. You can see details on the agricultural impact of Ukraine here:


Several governments and industries look at “de-coupling” as a response.

A near instinctual response is the institution of embargoes, import/export restrictions and trade wars of all kinds.

Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and natural gas, for example became fraught with complications as the war in Ukraine developed and expanded.

For the past several decades global economies have become ever more interconnected.

“Out-sourcing” has become a central principle of modern production of everything from food to tools to disposable diapers.

Untangling this web of sources, labor, assembly, production and transit is, to put it mildly, complicated.

We have trade relations with nations we don’t always agree with, cultures we don’t fully understand and, as with the past couple months, long term agreements with a nation or two we find ourselves almost at war with.

And, when it comes to China, currently the world’s second largest economy, and by most projections, the dominant economy for the next century or so, if there is anything we absolutely do NOT want to do, it is alienate or de-couple from them.

De-coupling from almost any one, or even attempting to, is nearly impossible.

Manipulating business arrangements and trade agreements around political or ideological biases is the ultimate fool’s errand.

Maintaining solid trading relations is the best way to ensure current and future engagement, but expecting that engagement to lead to, or even tilt in the direction of ideological or political change is naive at best.

Climate change

Shifts in climate impact food production perhaps more than anything else.

Changes in growing seasons, access to water and, of course more extreme weather events from hurricanes to droughts to floods have upended standard agricultural processes.

As the Chamber website puts it:

Combating climate change requires citizens, governments, and businesses to work together. Inaction is simply not an option. American businesses play a vital role in creating innovative solutions and reducing greenhouse gases to protect our planet. A challenge of this magnitude requires collaboration, not confrontation, to advance the best ideas and policies. Together, we can forge solutions that improve our environment and grow our economy—leaving the world better for generations to come.

You can see further details and updates on the response to climate change from the US Chamber here:

But it’s not just the Chamber.

NOAA research shows that many parts of the country are seeing more extreme events—thunderstorms, tornadoes, wildfires—a whole month earlier than normally expected.

These shifts in weather patterns not only distort the growing season, but they make us all more susceptible to fires, energy blackouts and near-annual five-hundred year storms and floods.

Mix in related risks like threats to cyber-security, terrorism and pandemics along with a level of communications and mobility like the world has never seen and you have a recipe for trouble – and opportunity – like the world has never seen – and may never see again.

One of the speakers on the first day of the forum was asked what song summed up our era and its challenges. His answer was Pink Floyd’s benchmark album, Dark Side of the Moon.

He didn’t point to any particular song, but the whole idea of being in flight in total darkness.

To see a full range of US Chamber of Commerce responses to these, and several other pressing issues, keep an eye on their website:

And to see the agenda and speakers of the 2022 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Forum look here:

And if you think that the world is changing at a scale and speed like never before, you are not alone.

But never forget what Robert Frost described as the most important and enduring principle he had learned about life – it goes on.