After the Domino Effect: Hunger is the Residue of Peace

I am fascinated with the unravelling of fascist strong-arm regimes in the Middle East.  It will only be a matter of time before the Domino Effect levels all the bullies and the people can speak for themselves and rule their own lives.

With China next in the tipping line, all bets are off as all balls are in the air:

Large numbers of plain-clothed and uniformed officers were deployed in Beijing, Shanghai and several other Chinese cities after anonymous dissidents issued a call on Saturday to any disaffected Chinese to gather and chant slogans for freedom and democracy.

In the event, the calls appeared not have penetrated far into the consciousness of ordinary Chinese as the authorities censored Chinese microblogs, made pre-emptive arrests of up to 100 known activists and mounted a deterrent show of police presence on the streets.

Revolution is great.

No, really.

But then what?

We wars will be won — yet the real human battle has yet to begin — because, by the year 2050, the planet we inhabit will be “unrecognizable” according to the United Nations:

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, “with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia,” said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.

To feed all those mouths, “we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000,” said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

How in the world do we feed nine billion people with the limited resources we have now, when we can’t even feed the seven billion people we have right now?

Sure, we can increase manufacturing of processed foods and genetically altered crops and we can use chemicals and science to enhance the taste and digestion of “non-food products” that will fill you up while letting you down — but will that be enough?

Can science save our starving stomachs?

The children will be the first and the last to most suffer.

If hunger is the residue of peace, and if the wages of sin is death, then what will these human uprisings have really won?  A starving society?  A worldwide battle for crops and water — and not oil! — in 2050?

We need to think about the extremes that the world is necessarily extrapolating upon us and find ways to assuage the infant hurt while celebrating the human wonder of self-appeasement.

12 comments

  • Simply put, you’re prophesy is wrong.

    Our population will not reach 9 billion because we will not feed them. The Third World has been bloating its population based upon subsistence handed out to them by the Civilized World and we will only give so much.

    If they choose to breed both beyond their means and our comfort, they’ll die off and the world’s population will re-stabilize – probably at slightly less than 6 billion since disease and war in those Third World nations will take out more above and beyond the starvation figures.

    • The prophesy really isn’t mine, jonolon, it’s the United Nations’.

      It will be interesting to see how things unfold, because more people in the world means more sex, and if some Churches continue to preach propagation – while unaptly refusing to promote condom use and birth control pills while still forbidding abortion — welp, it’s only a matter of time before we have a bunch of hungry people looking to be fed and, though no fault of their own, they are now here and waiting for help.

      The civilized world won’t be able to allow them to starve and die off because they’ll all have Twitter accounts and iPhone videos on YouTube documenting their hunger. We can’t abort them — it’s too late for that remedy, so we can try to criminalize the hungry and put them all in prison — but that won’t solve the food problem — unless, of course, we allow them to fight each other to the death for limited rations strategically placed on the dining hall floor.

      • Of course we’ll be able to just let them starve. If it’s not in our interests to pay to feed them, we won’t do so once the cost of it outweighs their “pity factor.”

        Face it, right now one child dies of starvation, malnutrition, or secondary conditions of those conditions every five seconds.

        We haven’t stopped that and we won’t stop it if it gets worse.

        • jonolan –

          They won’t starve in 2050 because, by then, the entire world will be wired. It’s easy to ignore the starving in Africa now because we can’t see them and they have no way to protest or fight back or let us know what’s really happening.

          As the internet truly becomes The Web of the World, and communication is as instant as a breath, there won’t be a way to suppress that sort of starvation. People will step forward to help. Not everyone will step up, but enough will to make a difference. I’m sure we’ll have some sort of chemical meal we will feed the hungry in porridge via a Twitter stream or somesuch. So, they won’t starve, they won’t die, but they won’t be a living threat, either.

          • Tell me, just who in their right mind is going to spend the money to wire sub-Saharan Africa or much of Southeast Asia? Where would the ROI be and how would it benefit the government’s of those nations to allow it if it someone would fund it?

            As it stands now, most of the people in those areas don’t even have electricity and get what little news they can get via hand-cranked radios.

            As for people “stepping up” – that’s a delusion when we’re discussing the numbers in question.

            If if they knew and cared enough to help, there wouldn’t be enough food available to send without cutting into our supplies more than people would be willing to.

            Tell me, David, how much do give up so that you can provide aid to those poor in Africa?

            I’ll tell you flat out, while I donate to multiple charities, I don’t do it to the point of it negatively impacting my lifestyle.

          • jonolan –

            We are talking from different timeframes. You’re talking from 2011. I’m talking from 2050.

            I realize there are people who will be uninterested in feeding the hungry in 2050 — just as there are now — I’m just saying that the needs of the hungry will be harder to ignore in the future than right now because of technology will continue to compress time and space. There will be nowhere left to hide them.

          • I was also speaking in a post 2011 context, though not a 2050 one since I don’t think the UN’s estimate is accurate because it discounts massive die-offs in the populations prior to 2050.

            I just don’t see those areas getting the basic technological infrastructure needed as a prerequisite for a broad network presence, much less the actual tech for that presence.

          • I also look to the past to predict the future, jonolan.

            In 1970s — the world population was 3.7 billion — and there was a world hunger crisis lingering from the 60s and “The Green Revolution” helped provide a solution. Asia has been burgeoning ever since:

            Improving seeds through experimentation is what people have been up to since the beginning of agriculture, but the term “Green Revolution” was coined in the 1960s to highlight a particularly striking breakthrough. In test plots in northwest Mexico, improved varieties of wheat dramatically increased yields. Much of the reason why these “modern varieties” produced more than traditional varieties was that they were more responsive to controlled irrigation and to petrochemical fertilizers, allowing for much more efficient conversion of industrial inputs into food. With a big boost from the International Agricultural Research Centers created by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the “miracle” seeds quickly spread to Asia, and soon new strains of rice and corn were developed as well.

            By the 1970s, the term “revolution” was well deserved, for the new seeds-accompanied by chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and, for the most part, irrigation-had replaced the traditional farming practices of millions of Third World farmers.

            We’ve doubled the world population since 1970 and technology is bringing us together and helping feed more hungry people and I expect that trend to continue into 2050 if we start thinking about solutions now.

            All we need by 2040 is another Norman Borlaug to heal our prodding hunger in 2050 — and she’ll probably come from Asia.

  • David,

    Every year we (in America) throw out so much perfectly good food.

    I think the future will be in learning once more to conserve what we have, rather than destroying — and victory gardens.

    • I think, in the future, we’re going to see an even deeper cleaving, Gordon, between the Haves and the Have-Nots.

      Today, the Haves eat steak and real vegetables and fruit and the Have-Nots eat from the McDonald’s dollar menu, or, if they’re in a third-world country, then get to eat a rice mash or Plumpy Nut.

      Can we always expect McDonald’s and the United Nations to feed the hungry of the world?

      There will only be so much real “food” for the future Haves, while the future Have-Nots will be relegated to a chemical mash that will keep them alive, but not help them propagate, or advance enough to threaten the unabided power majority who still eat foie grois and Texas barbecue.

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