Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nine hundred million today, a couple of billion tommorrow!

I try, as best I can, to follow world events from an armchair perspective. Been that way for years. When the internet came along in the nineties, I had even more ways to gather and look at news events from all over the world. And gosh, so much is going on these days. So many distractions. Yet, I wonder sometimes, that perhaps we may be lost in the forest as it were. Maybe we are missing the biggest the two biggest elephants in the room?

I think there are two issues that are not much talked about by the media, but that will soon become all that we'll be talking about. I'm referring to the availability of two essentials; food and water! Neither of which may be available to most of the world's population ,in sustainable fashion, within just a couple of decades!

As of 2012, according to, there are approximately 925 million people (see graph) who are hungry due to a scarcity of available food to eat. That's 1 of every 7 people living on the planet right now. And while there is currently enough growing capacity to feed the world, other problems are preventing equitable or fair distribution, especially in countries where poverty exists at high levels. Also in the mix is the effect of global warming on weather patterns especially where it concerns areas that produce most of the world's supply of grain. Frankly, rainfall patterns that were once considered to be fairly precise have become more and more chaotic with some areas now suffering record droughts while others are experiencing floods that have resulted in billion in damage.

That's the hunger issue, but also of critical importance will be the availability of enough fresh water to grow crops while having enough left over to slake the thirst of billions of human beings! It has been estimated that one sixth of the population is now going without enough potable water. At the current rate of global consumption, this very limited resource is expected to become exhausted by or sometime before the year 2042. In high density countries like China, a recent government report cites only 43% of the 'fresh water' there is now drinkable. (Twenty-five percent of the water there has become so polluted that it's even unsuitable for industrial applications)! In other high population density nations like India, the water there is also becoming increasingly polluted due to the over-working of farm lands. Those two nations alone account for, and sustain, over 2.5 billion souls.

OK, so there's some problems, granted! But, we still have a couple of decades to come up with a solution. Right?

Actually, no we don't. As these two basic resources become increasingly diminished, a hungry and increasingly thirsty mass of humanity will soon be forced to move. And, I promise, bad things will happen as a result! (I can think of no greater or more urgent motivation than to be starving and dying of thirst). When one area is stripped of these resources, increasingly larger and larger masses of people will be on the move. And, I have to wonder how another country's government respond if they discover thirty million or so desperate people heading their way? Probably not a pretty outcome!

So, when people ask me what I think of the situation in Syria or Iran or how the OWS'ers are messing up America, I just smile. In a few years, I'll wager they won't matter much one way or the other.

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