Thursday, January 24, 2013

The World: 50 Years Down the Line

I'm sure that even people with the most positive of dispositions find it hard to look beyond the near future with any real optimism. Maybe humans by nature tend not to think that far ahead anyway, preferring to focus on the here and now instead, which is understandable. Western governments and multinationals are certainly very limited in their long term planning, with the latter prioritising short term profit above everything else. Attitudes in the East, particularly China, seem to be much more adept at long term planning, sometimes thinking many generations ahead. But, it is this general lack of consideration for the future that further exacerbates the problems that the planet faces and will continue to face with increasing urgency.

It is problems that we are already confronted with which in my reckoning will, without urgent attention, cause untold suffering to the world, barely leaving any corners untouched. In fact, these particular problems are already having a devastating affect on some peoples lives. Over-population, diminishing natural resources, and climate change. These three issues are not unrelated to each other, they work in combination, one fuelling the other. Neither are these issues foreign or obscure, they are well known to everyone, certainly throughout the developed world, maybe to a lesser extent in the developing world where poverty reduction seems more relevant.

To many the world is already over-populated, with many of people's basic needs such as food and water not being met. Whether you think that this is a population problem or just bad management of the earth's resources, it's hard to deny that if the current population growth trends continue, we will certainly be unable to provide for massive parts of the world's population, with increased famine being just one of the awful consequences we will be confronted with. We have limited natural resources, whether that be oil, gas, minerals or fish stocks, we all know this. Yet we continue to largely ignore this fact, choosing to up our consumption of such resources, while limiting our investment in greener renewable alternatives. Through increased Co2 levels, animal agriculture, deforestation, as well as many other factors, we are affecting climate change which is upsetting the natural balance of the planet.

It is the combination of these three ever-growing problems, over-population, dwindling natural resources, and climate change, together with what seems to be mankind's short-sightedness and thirst for confrontation and conflict, that will bring about such terrifying consequences: major natural disasters and large scale war.

Extreme weather patterns due to a warming in the earth's temperature and a rise in sea levels, are something we are already familiar with, but these are likely to increase in volume and severity in the future. With droughts, hurricanes, and monsoons killing more and more people, as well as wildlife. There is also likely to be a rise in volcano eruptions and earthquakes. The world, simply put, will become much less hospitable, making survival an uphill battle.

Probably more worrying, at least in terms of the immediate destruction it can cause, is a world that turns to war in pursuit of the world's dwindling resources. This is not simply paranoia or an over-the-top prediction of an apocalyptic end to the world. The history of humankind is littered with war and violence, even our more recent history is no exception, with advanced modern countries showing the same disregard for human life and lust for destruction. The most striking of differences the technologically driven modern world has compared with the past is the array and destructiveness of its weapons, not least nuclear weapons which have now become prolific.

Some argue that nuclear weapons, which now several countries possess, have brought about a certain amount of stability. I believe there is some truth in this, after all, one country tends not to attack another country if they are able to respond with a nuclear threat. But given that the worlds growing population, who have a propensity for war, is running out of resources, it's doesn't take much of a leap to argue that nations may engage in war over these resources. I would like to be optimistic about our future here on earth, but the logical part of my brain tells me there will be wars, continuous, brutal and probably nuclear world wars. Unless we get are shit together, the world in 50 years time will be no picnic!  

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