Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'll Get On To That Right Away

A UN report examining population increase concludes that, by 2030, just 18 years from now, we'll need 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more water to meet humanity's needs.   Secretary general Ban ki-Moon said "We need to chart a new, more sustainable course for the future, one that strengthens equality and economic growth while protecting our planet."

Strengthening equality, a term that, to some, is code for sharing, perhaps even rationing among nations and peoples.   The UN panel calls for a transition from "unsustainable lifestyles, production and consumption patterns."  If you don't think that's aimed at you, think again.

An interesting recommendation is a new way of valuing and pricing goods and services incorporating the full environmental and social costs of production and consumption.

It's difficult to see how this could possibly work.  It would necessitate some transfer of wealth and resources and a broad based sharing of economic and political powers with the poorest and most vulnerable states.   The recent fiscal meltdown has already left people in the West feeling set upon.   How willing could they possibly be to accept gratuitous transfers of wealth and power for the sake of sustainable growth elsewhere?

The one thing the UN panel can't address is where to find the will, public and political, at local, national and global levels necessary to pull this off.  It's hard to see that the world the panel needs in order to make this happen is or will become a reality within the relatively small window available to effect these changes.

If there's one thing that this report is probably right about it's that, by 2030, mankind will need 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more water.   Using that baseline, try to imagine what the world of 2030 is going to look like without those essentials.


thwap said...

We will ration the necessary resources via the "free" market obviously.

Most of the world's population will starve to death (but mercifully free of the taint of "dependency"), the poor majority in the industrialized countries will become destitute, and the top 1% will grumble about how dreary everything has become.

Anyong said...

Mr. Ban, Ki-moon is coming from a South Korean point of view. In 1997when Asia was in a deep recession, Koreans took what gold they owned and gave it to the government. It pulled South Korea out of the recession first and very quickly. Koreans put their communities, cities and the country first. The very obscenely wealthy of the Western World could do the same however, that is twenty thousand kilometres away from their thinking. Countries such as Balize and Cambodia have to stop allowing foreigners into their countries and buying up the land to clear cut, plant sugar cane or what ever else and hire the locals as slave employees. These foreign land owners don't give a darn about looking after the land. All they want is to be in a position of food price specultion and controlling sales. A film you might be interested in is called "The Chocolate Farmer" about a farmer living in Southern Balize who farms organically. This area is now threaten by foreign land owners who want to dam the river so as to use irrigation, heavy equipment to rape the land and spray the hell out of the environment. We are killing ourselves off and stupid people like Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney helping it along 100%. Why are politicans so stupid and so short sighted?

The Mound of Sound said...

The problem we have with 'snapshots' such as the world in 2030 is that we overlook what must happen along the way. If this is going to be what 2030 looks like, how far will these stressors progress by 2020? How will that impact national and regional stability and security? How far can we accommodate these increases before we trigger problems for which we're really unprepared such as mass population migration and internally displaced populations? To what extent, even in the 'advantaged world', will our social, economic and political institutions be transformed by these influences? It truly is mind-boggling and yet the longer we continue on with a business-as-usual approach, the more radical the responses are apt to be when we can no longer afford to ignore them.