The Apocalypse of Overpopulation and Climate Change: Fighting for Water and Food

As we are coming closer to December 21, 2012, anxiety is building up for many. It is of course the prediction of the Mayan calendar, the one of Nostradamus, and the belief of christian fundamentalists  that the fateful “judgment day” phase has already begun with a few potential candidates  playing the role of the anti-Christ. As a rationalist, I can not adhere to any of this and especially not the part of the return of Jesus. However, anyone able and willing to analyze our current human predicament knows that we are entering a very challenging period for our own survival. The two main causes are purely man made in the form of overpopulation and climate change. As a specie we are heading for a cliff to be forever sent to oblivion. We can only blame our own arrogance, selfishness, lack of foresight and stupidity.

We have a plethora of problems that our largely incompetent governments are not tackling. It is of course climate change, but also overpopulation and social inequality. The world will unlikely come to an end in 2012, but we might have entered the phase of “the end of the world as we know it”, and most of us are not prepared to make any significant adjustments from our current social behavior. With a world population already at six billion, not addressing this quickly ticking time bomb is the equivalent of global suicide. With the ice cap quickly melting, fertile and highly populated areas worldwide will be flooded and will become inhabitable for 600 million people within less than 20 years. Large migration of people, escaping the floods, will take place, and such migrations will likely cause conflicts with existing local populations.

We are living under the delusional concept of stability and permanence, as if our trivial mentality of “business as usual” will always prevail. But, with sea waters rising, extreme weather spreading destruction all over the world, and nuclear disasters poisoning our food supply, it seems that humans have created an unstoppable army of Frankensteins, with the ability to destroy our very own planet. Since the industrial revolution, the focus of development has been on constant growth of production and labor force to accomplish it. The concept of exponential growth is by essence unsustainable.

But in order to accommodate this exponential development drive our insatiable appetite for natural energy and mineral resources have depleted planet earth and compromised the natural balance necessary for our survival. Unfortunately, this obsession for energy and resources is even more prevalent today than it was 150 years ago. We have collectively raped the planet for one and a half century, and we are about to pay the price for it. Some of us already have: just ask Haitians or Japanese facing their respective man-made so called “natural” disasters.

My experience with a preview of such apocalyptic scenario  was in New-Orleans post-Katrina. It gave me a precise idea of what our life can be like when you can’t rely on standard first world amenities, such as electricity, gas, water coming out of the pipes and stores to buy food. In disaster situations such as New-Orleans, Haiti or Japan, governments usually fail, to some degree, and survivors are left to fend for themselves. Then, it is back to the basics, and it translates into the two absolute  human necessities: food and water.

Today humans are stupid enough to fight for the exploitation of resources such as oil, natural gas and charcoal. If we are unable to curtail this madness, the wars of the very near future will not be about energy, control of transport and access to cheap labor forces. Instead, they will be about basic survival. There is an international trend burgeoning all over the world, populated by people smart enough to understand that the proverbial feces is just about to hit the fan. The off the grid survivalists are trying to be self reliable, and they have the right idea.

In California, Los Angeles is overdue for a major earthquake, yet, is the population prepared? As a former resident of the City of Angels, I can say that the community is absolutely not ready to handle such a challenge. Globally, we should ask ourselves some critical questions.  How would we survive if all our utilities (water, power) were cut off for weeks? How and where would we get water and the food to feed ourselves and our  families?

Editor’s Note: All photographs of New-Orleans post Katrina  by Gilbert Mercier.


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