I live in a rural part of the West Midlands and therefore I am very conscious of the effect that the weather and other outside forces can have on businesses.
A late or early frost can damage fruit and vegetables; drought can stunt the crops just as rain at the wrong moment can affect the harvest.
However, this is incomparable to the tragedy of New Orleans and the southern states of America that we have been watching unfold with mounting horror.
Suddenly the weather on that side of the Atlantic has spread ripples across the ocean to our country.
The price of oil has had great impact on our economy for many years but now, just like the war years, it is scarcity of petrol that is the problem.
Many of the American oil refineries have closed because of the impact of Hurricane Katrina and this means that the huge oil tankers that appear to circumnavigate the Earth just waiting for the highest bid are heading towards America. The price is rising for you and me as the bids from America increase.
This will impact on every business in this country. Indeed it will impact on every home in this country as the huge extra costs cannot be absorbed and prices on food and essentials will have to increase to reflect the transportation costs.
This will, of course, begin to settle down once the American oil refineries get back to business, but the price of crude oil has risen so much over the last few years that it is fanciful to imagine that we will ever have cheap petrol or diesel again.
Given that we, as a world, will eventually run out of oil isn?t this a good time to take a really close look at the way we live and work?
Just improving the public transport systems and really focusing on getting those right would be a great advantage.
Should we really need to take the car to work every day simply because the train and bus systems are so unreliable?
Taking goods off the road and putting them on the railway again would also help. As life has got ?smarter? and faster we have abandoned goods trains and goods yards and now have Just in Time deliveries in huge lorries that choke the road systems and create air pollution problems.
Every time the oil producers pull the strings our costs go up.
Transport of people and goods is a basic essential in our economy.
We have to work to make it more efficient and find ways that make it less costly. Maybe this hurricane with all its tragic aftermath could be the reason that we start to question just how oil dependent we have become.
Research and development into non-oil dependent fuels might be one way ? or perhaps there is another?
This is obviously a good place for our West Midlands innovators to begin!
* Diane Rayner is an independent adviser on small businesses in the West Midlands