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That made me laugh.

It was a few months ago. The Middle East and North Africa were exploding with riots bordering on civil war because unruly plebs thought they should have a say in the running of their lives, and Libya might have been just kicking off. Times looked uncertain, at least in sunny, foreign parts you only ever see on the news.

Of course, times were – are – uncertain in overcast, local parts, albeit in a fashion not so immediately obvious as we rarely get shot at, even under the current coalition government. Our entire way of life revolves around black sludge sucked out of the ground, and it won’t last for ever. We might be on the way down already. Burning the sludge is one of the many things we do that helps muck up the place, with lots of fun consequences. You’ll have to walk to the shops, although that won’t be such a hassle as they won’t have any food to sell you, or any carrier bags for you to carry it in. Or maybe you’ll be dead from some formerly-curable disease, because guess what so many pharmaceuticals require in their manufacture. Oh, where did the disease come from? Maybe it was brought here by dirty migrants, fleeing their flooding homeland or the bitter wars over the last few drops of long-dead plankton.
Still, at least being on a trivial, resourceless island means we won’t be caught up in those wars directly. Unless they get turned up to 11 in a glorious case of life imitating art. Maybe we’ll all go together when we go, after all.

Not that all of our potential problems are a result of our own stupidity and lack of foresight, despite our best efforts. Giant rocks could fall from the sky and do for us as they did for the dinosaurs (and as they did for 90% of species just before the dinosaurs turned up – what giant rocks give, they are more than able to take away), or a nearby star could decide it just can’t take it any more, ripping off the ozone layer faster than any number of deodorant cans and dumped fridges.

And in the longer run, even our own sun can’t be trusted. It’s gradually warming, and will cook the Earth beyond supporting liquid water or life in a billion years or so, long before it becomes a red giant and dies.
All the other stars will die too, and eventually no more will be born. Cold stellar corpses and black holes will litter the universe, until even matter itself breaks down and all that remains is cooling radition for the rest of time.

So, in that week, faced with wars and suffering, global problems and potential unforseeable catastrophes, in a universe where the only certainty is decay and death, on what did the Daily Express – self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Newspaper and a doomed relic of a doomed way of life of a doomed species on a doomed planet orbiting a doomed star in a doomed universe – spend two of its front-page headlines?

Petrol prices.

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