I have to admit I am a doom-sayer. The moon might be knocked out of orbit, the Earth might be struck by a comet, the sun might go nova; the list of apocalyptic scenarios seems endless. One problem however, is far more plausible, but we have been ignoring it for a long time: population. Sometime between December and January the world's population reached seven billion people. If current trends continue we will have nine billion human Earth residents in thirty years. Think of people driven to fight for water, food, a place to live, a way to earn a living. Paul Gilding, an Australian spokesman on economic and environmental issues has given a talk on TED 'The Earth is Full,' and I urge you to listen to him. It is rather long, eighteen minutes, and this feels like forever in our instant, in-a-minute age, but I believe worth the time.
Scientists have been warning us about cataclysmic changes coming since the '60s. Our governments and our leaders have pushed this problem aside. We've ignored facts in front of our faces. We have pushed other species sharing our world out of their habitats, driving many to the edge of extinction. We have squandered arable land in our ever-expanding goal for everyone to have their own house. We have polluted our fresh and salt-water resources and our atmosphere without much thought. The truth, however, is the Earth's resources are finite and cannot support all of us with the economic standards we now live by. We consider clean, drinkable water, food, and jobs as rights rather than resources. Think of having to fight for them rather than the for the remaining coal and oil resources. We already have populations starving, others fighting over their country's resources. These are the battles of the future.
Is the case hopeless? Not necessarily, but I believe it will take a global paradigm change, which seems impossible now. We hardly seem able to find consensus on any topic. I'll leave you with this quote from Paul Guilding: "It takes a good crisis to get us going. When we feel fear and we fear loss we are capable of quite extraordinary things."