World in Motion: 7,000,000,000
“A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction.” J.G. Ballard
Whilst I write this somewhere on our planet some screaming blood-covered baby will be the seven billionth person on this earth. It is obviously impossible to pinpoint exactly who all of our future overpopulation problems are down to, but the little bastard is out there somewhere. I joke, of course, because it’s not the child’s fault, so the argument goes, but we are perfectly justified in blaming the parents. Person 7bn seems to be a bizarre cause for celebration but after three years economic Armageddon I suppose you can put a positive spin on just about anything these days. I don’t know why the world’s population surpassing an arbitrary mark on an arbitrary date is a cause for celebration, because lucky number seven is not so lucky when you add nine zeros on the end.
Interestingly, before the dawn of the twentieth century no human had lived through a doubling of the population, whereas today people exist who have seen it triple. 7 billion people is a lot of stress on over-fished seas, declining fuel, global warming and food shortages (even though we globally produce enough food for everyone to eat 2,720kcal a day). There probably isn’t an answer to this but if we get lucky someone will find a way to harness cold fission or perfect nuclear power without putting a hole in the earth the size of the Grand Canyon.
Throughout the world right now almost one billion people are hungry, and I don’t mean between meals hungry, I mean starving, malnourished and exhausted through the scarce availability of food. In 2005 2.7 billion people lived on less than $2 a day with 1.1 billion of those living on less than a dollar. You may think a dollar buys you a lot in a dirt poor country but this measure (the purchasing power parity) adjusts the purchasing power of a dollar in the USA to the purchasing power of the local currency for the same goods, ie a Coke, but hold the smile.
The world’s population is set to increase by 80 million people a year from here on out, 95% of which will come from developing nations. With this rise comes a massive skewing of gender ratios due to the preference for male offspring in the developing world facilitated by infanticide and sex-selective abortions. There is a ratio that is something of a cast iron natural rule of 105 men for every 100 women, but presently China is 120:100 and India about 115:100. In effect, there are approximately 160 million women who have been selected out of existence and if you have ever been to a shit club on a Friday night you will know what a lack of available females does to men. If your imagination is up to the task, multiply that by the two biggest, nuclear armed, nations on earth.
Whilst we are talking about putting holes in the earth we might as well turn our attention to the money pit that is the European Union. I stayed up watching the news until 3am the other night waiting to see how our glorious leaders were going to ensure the continuation of the Euro for another six months. Excitingly, they got banks to agree a 50% amputation to Greece’s debts (the remainder guaranteed by governments if Greece continues hurtling towards oblivion) to a backdrop of mounting protests on the streets of Athens as 15-24 year olds deal with a huge 40% unemployment rate and cuts to public services that would make Thatcher look like a volunteer for the Morning Star. The Germans are becoming increasingly frustrated with enormous bailouts like this and Chancellor Merkel gave a very telling hint as to just how frustrated when she said, “No one should think that a further half century of peace and prosperity is assured. It isn’t”. Should we be reading that as a threat rather than a cry of desperation? You know how things come in threes… The Euro or World War III: you decide.
And then there was Cameron in the middle of it all trying to look like our knight in shining armour; battling ardently for Britain’s voice to be heard as it became increasingly muted amid the chaos. He’s quite good at turning his failures to his advantage so I wouldn’t be surprised if he cut off his nose (left Europe) to spite his face (not being listened to by Europe). There is, after all, a huge section of the Conservative party who believe that the UK can be a self-sufficient nation without Europe. All we need are some nets and repeal of the Slavery Abolition Act.
So the future isn’t bright for anyone, if you are European you might as well accept that the next few years are going to be bleak house, and if you live in a developing nation the little one says, “roll over”…