Earth Day blues

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in the Business Mirror, April 23,2008 edition, p. A10.

“Somebody told me how frightening it was how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.” – Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy

Nobody listens to scientists until it’s too late. Scientists who warned the world’s leaders about unsustainable development were ignored, laughed at and called “tree huggers” until food riots in Haiti, Bangladesh, and Egypt made politicians everywhere take notice.

A week ago the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said rising food prices and shortages, the end result of unsustainable development, could lead to mass starvation and wars.

“[T]housands, hundreds of thousands of people will be starving. Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives,” said Strauss-Kahn. He added, “As we know, learning from the past, those kinds of questions sometimes end in war.”

The US Department of Defense made the same projection four years ago in a study called “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.”

The Pentagon projected a frightening future.

Harvard University professor Allen W. Shearer said, “The study outlined a possible future with climatic conditions similar to those 8200 years ago and speculated on implications related to the subsequent availability of food, water, and energy.”

Here, as summarized by the British paper, The Observer, are the Pentagon’s projections:

  • By 2010, the US and Europe will experience a third more days with peak temperatures above 90F. Climate becomes an “economic nuisance” as storms, droughts and hot spells create havoc for farmers.
  • Between 2010 and 2020…climate in Britain becomes colder and drier as weather patterns begin to resemble Siberia.
  • Access to water becomes a major battleground. The Nile, Danube and Amazon are all mentioned as being high-risk.
  • More than 400m people in subtropical regions [are] at grave risk.
  • Mega-droughts affect the world’s major breadbaskets, including America’s Midwest, where strong winds bring soil loss.
  • A “significant drop” in the planet’s ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years.
  • China’s huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates the inland water supplies.
  • Rich areas like the US and Europe would become “virtual fortresses” to prevent millions of migrants from entering after being forced from land drowned by sea-level rise or no longer able to grow crops. Waves of boat people pose significant problems.
  • Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Immigrants from Scandinavia seek warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa.
  • Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt and North Korea. Israel, China, India and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.
  • Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honor.
  • Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet’s population is reduced to such an extent so that the Earth can cope.

Yesterday, I saw people lining up for NFA (National Food Authority) rice. It was the 38th anniversary of Earth Day.

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