Pondering the zombie apocalypse reminds me of bananas. I love bananas. They’re my dirt cheap, yummy, easy to peel, oddly exotic, genetically maladapted fruit of choice. Bananas are one of many mundane things for which I’m thankful. I’m old enough to remember when bananas were relatively rare. (It was a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away.) Now they’re in every grocery store all the time. (Also they’re green… which is not yellow and therefore pisses me off; but that’s another story.)
I’m so irretrievably uncool that I ponder agronomy. Many (most?) crops, are precarious. Read up on it and you’ll start getting nervous. (You’ll also bore people on your blog.)
Basically every banana you’ve eaten is a clone. (I’m painting with a broad brush. If you’re a hermit botanist living on an atoll 500 nautical miles from Fiji and keep an heirloom banana tree locked in your sealed herbarium I’ll grant you a variance. Also drop me a line because we simply must talk!)
Since they don’t have sex, bananas lack genetic diversity. That’s biology’s way of saying “we’re out of ideas and poised to drop dead en masse”. (Insert joke about Republican party here.) If a pathogen figures out their weakness it’s game over. Perhaps a crop that doesn’t have sex cries out for the sweet release of extinction?
I’ve known this forever. I presume wicked smart dudes in lab coats are on the job to rectify this. I suppose they’re in the employ of “big corporate banana” and facing constant protests from smelly hippies who think kale in Whole Foods is produced by Gaia’s magic wand. Probably they’re ridiculed by people who work in marketing. “Oh you’re a banana scientist? Don’t ever mention your work to me again.”
Ideally they’re developing new strains (the smart dudes in lab coats and not the smelly hippies). Or maybe they’re splicing in genes from lemurs or sacrificing goats or whatever it is that agronomic mad scientists do. I wish them well as they struggle to keep civilization going. In the meantime I eat bananas fully aware that they could all die and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.
Recently I learned what I thought was a theoretical risk banana apocalypse is now happening for real. It’s progressing slowly. A pathogen called Panama disease strain TR4 (or as I call it “horrible doom to my yellow treat”) is running amok. Attempts to stop the spread have had disappointing results. I’ll bet dipshits who don’t get biology (which is damn near everyone) aren’t helping. “You mean the dude with the clipboard says I’ve got to sterilize a tractor tire? Screw him!”
Barring unexpected events it’ll slowly churn though cloned fields of bananas making them as commercially unviable as a Socialist’s tax plan. The unexpected event is really up to the dudes in lab coats. (Boring people in lab coats matter. We should have shrines to Norman Borlaug in grocery stores.)
So there you have it. Something bad is happening. It sucks. Dudes in labcoats are the last desperate line of defence. If they fail we’ll be reduced to eating turnips. Is that not the zombie apocalypse?