It’s true. The world is burning, both literally and figuratively.
Global warming is a real problem. We’re in the middle of a human-caused mass-extinction and our planet is being trashed by our burning of our favorite fuel source, yet we have people in high places in our governments who not only refuse to acknowledge the issue, but actively fight against it. As if turning your back on a Tsunami will stop the inevitable.
Those who deny climate change will be dead in the geological blink of an eye (or even sooner, we can hope), leaving the next generations to inherit the consequences. What does this mean? Droughts and famine, mainly. The thing is, we are already seeing these. California is in the middle (or the beginning?) of a horrible drought. The 2015/2016 El Niño gave us a few showers, but pathetic in comparison to prior years. This is not isolated. Many other regions are experiencing unprecedented drought conditions as well.
So what? Well, when you have drought, you get lack of food. Without food and water, the next step is civil unrest. This isn’t a theory. When people can’t eat, they get pretty pissed off.
The free market will save us. Right?
Let’s leave the stupid climate for a minute. Let’s talk about the world economy. Now, just about ever major country is based off of a capitalistic growth economy. What does this mean? It means that if you don’t keep shoveling coal into the fire, the fire dies out. So in this example, coal is people working, right? Sorry, no. Coal is people. A growth economy requires more people. More and more and more people. The problem is, the planet’s resources can’t support the amount of people we currently have, much less more of the wretched things. So we have an economy that is betting on resource exhaustion as a method of self-sustaining. On top of requiring more people, many of our wonderful growth economies are built on top of the fact that there is cheap labor in other countries.
Here’s a pattern. We want something built cheaper. We build factories in <insert developing country here>. <Developing country> has so much capital pumped into it that prices rise and their standard of living starts to match the guys on top. Ahh, peasants and their desire to be kings! Suddenly, the factories are more expensive to operate. <Developing nation> starts enacting regulations (gasp), and sooner or later, the poor underdogs who run the multinational corporations are in search for <next developing country> to exploit. Won’t someone think of the shareholders??
Their business model is sound, though. At least, their business model is sound assuming you have endless developing countries to exploit. What happens when the last stable, developing country decides to charge the same to operate your iPhone factory as the factory in the United States? Well, the iPhone jumps from $650 to $3000. The shitty plastic trash bin you used to pay $3.99 for is now $59.99!! Your McDonalds cheedburger is $24.99. Sacrilege!
Suddenly our consumeristic growth economy becomes a…well, what the hell happens now? We don’t have a name for it because there is only the growth economy. Anything else is filthy communism. Nobody wants to talk about any other form of economy besides a growth economy, as if we can grow forever.
Univeral contants, anyone?
Seriously, though. We have a growth economy. Growth requires resources. This is not an opinion, this is a universal constant. In order to grow, a system needs an influx of energy from some external source. Resources. What happens when we run out of these resources?
Economic collapse. The engine stops, and because nobody is willing to talk about what this means or what happens next, it’s going to be a painful process.
Let’s tie this all together: climate change is going to be displacing millions of people in coastal areas as ocean levels rise. At the same time, droughts and famine are going to become much more common. Our global economy, which requires growth, and more growth, oh and some growth, will stop growing roughly around the same time the droughts and famine happen.
Increased population density, compounded by extreme resource limitation (food, water, etc), compounded by economic collapse leaves us with a near human extinction. What drought and famine doesn’t do to us disease will. Viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria love sickly people living in close quarters!
The next 100 years will certainly be an interesting time for humanity.
I’m not saying these things because I hate humanity. I’m saying these things because I love humanity. I think we’re pretty cool. We’ve accomplished much more than many other ape species, probably. A few of us have even evolved passed our ape nature. There’s something here worth saving. I just hope the good parts survive, and the climate-change-denying, growth-economy-touting simpletons die a slow, horrible death.