If you follow the news from around the world you will be aware that in every corner of our beautiful, blue green planet, there is war, fighting, trouble and strife of every kind. What is not being acknowledged by anyone is that the root cause of the trouble, is overcrowding, there are just too many people trying to live together and share the world’s limited resources of living space, water, food, oil and other basic necessities for life, such as clean air.
The population of our world is said to be seven and a half billion people and rising rapidly. Many years ago scientists in this field calculated that the optimum number of people required to populate this earth in a sustainable, responsible way was three, to three and a half billion, yet here we are now, a few years down the track, at double that number and rising exponentially. There has to be serious consequences. Scientists, back then, also carried out a very revealing experiments with rats. They took a quite normal colony of rats and then kept introducing more and more rats to the previously peaceful environment, without increasing the size of the living space or increasing the food or water available. Rather like the peaceful western world, which has suddenly had millions of refuges thrust upon it. What had been a society of rats that tolerated one another and avoided confrontation, gradually, then more quickly broke down. Soon fights broke out and escalated until the whole colony exploded into violence. Some groups of rats formed into marauding gangs, raping other, both male and female rats, killing and even eating them. Strangely, a few individuals grew quite large, so big that none of the others would dare challenge them, but served and protected them, like slaves, while the few big rats spent their time grooming themselves. Does that remind anyone of the fact that the majority of the world’s money is ‘owned’ by just a few people who live in ivory towers protected from the ordinary people, by their own security services? Back in the experiment, many of the ordinary rats, just died of hunger or thirst but later examination of the bodies proved that many had died from heart failure, caused by the stress of the life they had been forced to lead in the overcrowded environment. Does any of that seem familiar to the human world we inhabit today?
If we look around us and are honest about what we see, everyone will acknowledge the consequences of overcrowding are manifest everywhere, in every country, every culture and every religion, with the people who are suffering the most, as always, are the poor. Every day thousands of people, a high proportion of them children, die from conflict, hunger, drinking contaminated water or illnesses that would be preventable if the sick person had access to cheap medicine. Even in well run western countries it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain good medical care, simply because there are too many other people, wanting that same care. The pressure of over population is beginning to be felt in the rich western countries, but in the poorer countries of Asia and Africa those same pressures are life threatening.
Take as an example the African country of Somalia which has recently experienced a famine, caused primarily by a draught. The World’s press claimed that the famine is the worst humanitarian disaster in 50 years, which is not really the case. In 1960/61 and again in 1973/4 there were very similar, but worse, droughts and famines there, as there is every five years or so. The difference this time is that in the intervening years the population of that region, as with many similar areas in Africa, have been kept alive by aid from western governments and relief agencies. Because of the abundance of food supplied by well-meaning westerner’s the population of Somalia is now four times greater than it was 50 years ago, in a country that even in a good year cannot feed itself. It has been artificially sustained. Another African country in a very similar circumstance is Ethiopia, which before food aid from the west began twenty five years ago, had a population of 33.5 million which today has risen to over 78 million. There are numerous countries like that in Africa and Asia and more recently in the Middle East, and no amount of western well-meant good-will can make it sustainable indefinitely.
Whether we like it or not we now live in a global world, where something happening in one part of the world, will affect populations, thousands of miles away. Religious wars in the Middle East and North Africa created millions of refugees, who flooded into neighbouring countries and Europe, whose tax-payers have to pay to support them for years and years, putting a huge strain on the economy and individual tax-payers. Those refugees, speak a foreign language and the majority of whom, have no intention of learning the language of their adopted country, have no work qualifications or skills and let’s be honest, will not be readily accepted into the, already over-full work environment in the West, so will be a financial burden on their host country for generations to come.
Since the Second World War, the USA has appointed itself as the world’s policeman, but some claim, have caused more harm than good, for example because they never took the time to really understand the Middle East and consequently attacked and destroyed Sadam Husain’s Iraq, on a false premise of ‘weapons of mass destruction’, but not knowing about the deep division, not to say hatred, between Sunny and Shia Moslems. Subsequently the whole of the Arab region is now unstable and are at war with one another in complicated conflicts that are not just religious but tribal and cultural. That region will be at war with itself and the rest of the world for decade to come, unless something big intervenes. Meanwhile, the Americans, the World’s Police, have just voted for a new President, but unfortunately a large proportion of the American public, including members of his own party, did not only not vote for him, but are now actively working against him. To put that situation nicely into an historic American concept, former American President, Abraham Lincoln, once said ‘a house divided cannot stand’, and at the present time America is critically divided and could be described as being at war with itself, embroiled in its second civil war. To an outside observer, in denying and destroying their own Civil War history, the Americans seem hell-bent on destroying themselves from within. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”(George Santayana.)
In the Bible’s, book of Revelations, there is a fascinating story that some say is our future foretold. It is the story of the End of the World, Armageddon and the final battle between the forces of good, God’s forces and the forces of evil, which takes place at an area known as Armageddon. There is a place in the Middle East called Armageddon, which over the centuries has known many bloody battles, so would be a good choice for an old fashioned clash of foot and mounted soldiers, but not necessarily, a place for modern warfare.
Somewhat worryingly, the Muslim religion has a very similar story in their Holy Book, the Koran, which also tells of the end of the world as we know it, in one great battle, with Allah’s army against all the Infidels. Of course, in their version, they win, but in these modern times are we really going to give any credence to stories written thousands of years ago, even in holy books?
In the USA last year a survey was conducted on what people thought the coming year would bring and the results were rather worrying. Over seventy percent of the people surveyed felt that the present comparatively peaceful times, were not going to last and that in the not too distant future, something big, something bad, was going to happen in the world. Mind you the Americans have a lot more than the conflicts in the Middle East to worry about, problems which are much closer to home. Statistics show that more Americans have been killed by domestic gun violence than all the American soldiers that were killed, in the Second World War and during the last twelve months more Americans have died from the current opioid drug epidemic than died in the whole 11 years of the Vietnam War. President Trump has declared a national public health emergency to try to stem opioid drug deaths in America, which are the greatest ever known in the history of the world, quite shocking statistics when you think about it.
The USA has also just replaced a President who for eight years many accuse of being weak and so anti-war that he was taken advantage of by Iran who is developing nuclear weapons, North Korea, who now claims to have a hydrogen bomb and the Islamic State, who he refused to call Islamic Terrorist, but at the same time he seems to have re-ignited the Cold War between the West and Russia.
Apart from the threat of nuclear and religious wars, we, as a world population have not faced up to global warming and what scientist call Thermal Expansion, or in plain English the warming and consequential expansion of the water in the world’s seas and oceans leading to sea levels rising. Rising temperatures would also, not only melt ice at the poles, but would lead to the massive release of Methane gas from the permafrost, accelerating temperature rise and speeding up rising sea levels, which will then inundate many present-day major cities and even some low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and Holland. Atmospheric contamination, and the poisoning and acidification of our waterways and seas are also serious threats, official figures show that, worldwide over the last year, nine million people died from air and water pollution. Another looming health risk that few people even seem aware of is the lowly plastic shopping bag, which when it was first introduced was such a boon for supermarket shoppers and was guaranteed to break down and disappear in the environment. However more recently it has been discovered that in the sea the plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until at microscopic size, it is ingested by tiny sea creatures which are at the basis of the sea’s food chain and eventually enters our food chain with what detrimental results we do not, as yet know. Also concerning the seas, the over-fishing of some species is interrupting the seas’ natural food chains, with the obvious result that the species above in the chain will die from hunger, and so on, ad infinitum.
The humble honey bee is also disappearing from the world at an alarming rate, but no one is admitting why, or seems to care. Could it possibly be because of the over use of insecticides by huge Chemical Companies who care more about profit than they care for the environment. You may think that a few million honey bees more or less, isn’t important in world affairs, but it’s those bees that pollinate nearly all the food-stuff we grow to sustain ourselves, without them there will be no grain for bread, no potatoes no fruit and no animals such as cows, pigs and sheep. Professor Albert Einstein once predicted, “If the bees disappear then mankind will only have four years left.” A little true story that nicely illustrates the bee hypothesis comes from a region of China where, in a desperate attempt to recover and save their fruit harvest, they had to employ hundreds of extra workers to try to pollinate all their fruit trees by hand after foolishly spraying with insecticide which killed all the bees. Their harvest that year was a disaster and the following year they had to import bees from elsewhere, but many of them died of residual poisoning.
There is also the insidious decline of respect for authority, the rise in crime and the disrespect shown to the police. Young criminals these days know they have — even when caught red handed — a good chance of getting away with their crime or getting such a light punishment that they regard it as just a joke. Many young people choose crime as a career option and never attempt to seek proper employment, which eventually drags the whole of society down. Formerly law abiding citizens, fed up with the crooks laughing at the law lose faith in the system and start taking the law into their own hands, the beginning of anarchy. Remember the rat experiment. Also, these days, people we once held in high regard, such as Politicians, Bankers, City Councillors and their like are turning out to be corrupt or ‘in it’ for what they can get. Finally newspapers and broadcasters no longer publish news but politically slanted propaganda and downright lies.
Another sign of population overload is of previously accepting European nations, reluctance and downright refusal to take more refugees and the desire of various countries and regions to want to leave former attachments, such as the UK from Europe, Catalonia from Spain and the Kurds from their connection to Turkey and Iraq and, believe it or not, there is even talk of some American states considering seceding from the Union.
If you don’t consider the threats of the physical world are too difficult to manage, have you considered the threat that lurks in the world of the internet? Just about all of the world’s business is now done on the internet and with any business comes crime. Just consider the Islamic State, or even the Russian Mafia, who we acknowledge have world class IT experts whose full time job it is to hack into western defence, spying and banking systems and take them over or disrupt them. We know they have had huge successes, but because of the secrecy surrounding such matters we will never know the full extent of their success. None of them have been brought to justice and are still out there hacking into everything we regard as private or secret.
Recently I went to my bank to pay a bill, but their computer was ‘down’ for some reason. I’m not suggesting that terrorists were responsible, although the bank didn’t know why the computer was down, the point is that everything, these days, is done over the internet and when it doesn’t work, then it is going to cost someone money. For me, I was obliged to pay my bill a day late which cost me a penalty payment. Annoying as that may be for one individual, just think what would happen if all the bank’s computers were down, indefinitely throughout the country or even a large part of the western world, chaos. What then?
If human beings can’t control the future, eventually some natural mechanism will intervene, some disease such as Aids, which is already devastating some African countries, or the Plague, which, in the Middle Ages killed almost half the population of the known world and has, alarmingly, recently resurfaced in Africa. Or possibly, the Spanish Flue of 1918 that infected an estimated one billion people at a time when the world population was only two billion and actually killed more people (an estimated 50 million) than were killed in the Great War (17 million, both military and civilian on both sides). Or perhaps, another mega drought and famine, or, as we already know to our cost it could be increased earthquake and volcanic activity, a tsunami of ‘biblical flood’ proportions or more destructive hurricanes, typhoons or forest fires. Yet another looming threat, with so many rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea, Pakistan and India or potentially the so called Islamic State, is, intentionally or inadvertently, a manmade nuclear, chemical or biological war which would undoubtably wipe out millions, not a pleasant thought for our future, but a realistic one that we will all need to confront, sooner rather than later.
Reading this article you may find, as I did researching and writing it, that the subject is extremely depressing, so I thought I would end on a lighter note with a little ironic humour. Imagine, if you will that being a member of the population of our beautiful blue, green world at the present time, is somewhat similar to having been a passenger or crew member on board the RMS Titanic in April 1912. Those that can afford it, travel first class, the less well-off travel second class while the vast majority of us are content to travel Steerage, but the outcome of the voyage was, and will be, the same for everyone. However, to be fair, I should note there are a couple of small differences, the Titanic did have a few survivors who went on to lead normal, long, happy lives and the ship also had a first class band that played until the very end.
Footnote: I wrote the original draft of this article in the late 90s but never published it as I knew people would consider I was being unnecessarily pessimistic about our future. However in the last few years so many things that I had only hinted at in the original draft, have come to fruition. For example the number of politicians, bankers and officials who have been exposed as corrupt. Also the quite recent massive increase of refugees and illegal immigrants flooding into the West from the Third World, causing a world-wide emergency, which includes various acts of terrorism. Other worrying recent phenomena are the increase in crime, drug addiction, diseases, such as AIDS and the reappearance and mutation of viruses such as the medieval plague. Finally, global warming, rising sea levels, the nuclear war threat and the degradation of the world’s water supply, seas and air and of course the exponential increase in the world population which seems unstoppable and destined to overwhelm us all.