Sunday, October 30, 2011

A thought experiment … a tipping point.

Occupy Wall Street has grown into a what some call a larger movement. However, while groups in many cities share the same frustrations with the status quo … two stagnated parties, a country run by a too highly speculative financial services industry … I am not as confident as Michael Moore is that this movement will sustain itself.

I was wondering where it would end up. Then I thought of the words that Lewis Carrol gave to the Cheshire Cat.
In Alice in Wonderland, as Alice approaches the Cheshire Cat she sees a signpost with many arrows pointing in many different directions, down many roads. Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, "Which road should I take?" The Cheshire Cat replies, "Where do you want to go?" When Alice replies that she doesn't know, the Cheshire Cat concludes, "Then ANY road will do."

If Greens are ready to point the way to a better future, then we need to know what the world will be like. I have been reading a book entitled The World in 2050 by UCLA Geographer Laurence Smith. That seems to be a good base for considering what our policies need to be.

The year 2008 was one of fundamental change. In the US, it marked the first time that an African American was elected President. On the world level, a more meaningful, during 2008, the majority of the world's population was living in urban centers. Until then, a majority was living in rural areas.

Since then, the world's population has reached 7 billion. It only took 12 years to add that last billion people or the equivalent of adding the population of the United States every 4 years. By 2050, it will be 9 billion.

So we get the picture that the world will be very densely populated urban areas, with all that this means in terms of the needs to build infrastructure, housing, transportation and to use that transportation to move things into the cities: iron, steel, glass, cement, food, water... and then to move out our waste.

Add to this, the fact that our climate is going to change, perhaps very quickly. Already we are seeing an increased desertification in areas like Texas. Climate Progress blogger, Joe Romm has contributed an article for Nature that speaks to the Dust-Bowlification and the grave threat it poses for food security.
"Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced."

Over the next 2 weeks, I will take each of the factors that will define our world in 2050; population demographics, climate change, economic globalization and the scarcity of resources, and try to relate them to Green Party policies. For example, both population growth and climate change will have a major impact on immigration and any national politician needs to be be able to talk to this issue.

1 comment:

Mike X said...

Here is a very interesting video series:
which you may find enlightening - especially if you combine it with your book on 2050...

The major problem is, no action will be taken that the economy cannot sustain.

Already, our elected representatives are talking about getting rid of, or cutting back on, environmental protection...

Thanks to the National Geographic Society (via YouTube) we have a pretty good idea what global warming will bring - including the eventual extinction of humanity! Yet our governments don't seem to care.

It's all really a matter of simple mathematics...

The problem, that I see, is that nobody wants to do what needs to be done... The reality is just too harsh... So, they will follow the 'usual' patterns... Hoping that the salvation of humanity will be the next World War... But, even if billions are destroyed, the problems we face will remain the same - only by then we will have fewer resources available.

The question is: How do we wake people up? How do we get them to care? How do we get them involved? How do we change the attitude that everything is just 'peachy keen'?