Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse

Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse- Poverty and the WWF 2010 report

By Paul Wallis.

The nightmare scenario predicted by economists, science writers and for generations by the anti-overpopulation lobby is now looking a lot more like a waking nightmare. The shadow of global poverty is growing larger by the second.

The WWF Living Planet 2010 report highlights massive biodiversity loss, on a scale which even a worst case scenario wouldn’t have predicted. Pollution and waste control is improving, but the biological aspects underpin the whole global resource base.

There are some elements of this information which require an explanation:

An ecology isn’t a static thing. It can go haywire quite easily. Even the absence of microbes which break down soil can have a massive impact on the fertility of soil. (So much so, in fact that microbes are now being added to agricultural soils to improve fertility and replace populations blitzed by phosphates, fertilizers, and the rest of the chemical dictionary.)

On the macro scale, loss of fish and removal of predators has damaged fish stocks in a way which wasn’t on the radar. Explosions of jellyfish, which eat fish fry, have been promoted by the destruction of ocean ecological mechanisms. There are now Mediterranean jellyfish in plague numbers in the Atlantic, an area they previously couldn’t have even inhabited.

The WWF report therefore concentrates on species losses with good reason. The presence or absence of any species can work as a map of the current state of an ecology, its support mechanisms and the local biochemistry.

For example, if a predator species disappears, it’s likely that its prey have either gone too, or that its prey species will explode in that area, and create their own issues. The lack of certain types of plant instantly changes the chemical and physical properties of soils, etc.

Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International, pointed out that for the world to live like the average US resident, it would take 4.5 Earths to provide the resources. Those aren’t good odds, by any estimate.

Economics are also threatened. The absolute bottom line here is that these resources and their production won’t fit neatly into any sort of scarcity based price gouging Nirvana envisioned by business think tanks. Any serious global impact on the already severely strained food production industry, (like the drought in Russia, and the recent failure of rice crops in SE Asia) can’t be supported by the markets. The world can’t just go out and buy hundreds of millions of tons of food per day that doesn’t exist. The writing on the wall is now being done in block letters, and in blood.

This is the real problem, and all the GM food and related Styrofoam in the world won’t make it go away. The human race has created a Catch 22 for itself. Scarce, expensive food and water, combined with scarce money and endless increases in living costs, equals exactly one thing for most people on Earth- Poverty. Humanity’s most insulting enemy has just ridden into town with a sneer and a bit of disingenuous charity to the various mentally defective political species, who still think they know what they’re doing despite a century of proof of the exact opposite.

"Vote for us, everything will be fine". Sure, it will, and the Tooth Fairy gives discounts. The price structures of an expensive staple foods market were last seen in Germany and China during the Depression. Wheelbarrows full of "currency" were required to buy a potato in Germany, and the dead were simply collected off the streets in Shanghai.

You could be a mega-millionaire in this sort of environment and still be comparatively extremely poor. The sheer stupidity of this situation, so soon after some of humanity’s triumphs over centuries of squalor, is incredible. From the caves to the stars in 10,000 years, and back to the caves, apparently, in 100, with or without iPods. Nice going, Homo Sap.

For those of us sufficiently literate and mammalian enough to know that the world doesn’t run on press releases and rhetoric, neither of which are edible, and none of which could be called hygienic, the obvious is now a fact. God help future generations, because we’re apparently too damn idiotic to do so. Just cleaning up the mess would help, but evidently we’re too self-important to do things like that anymore.

Sure, it’s fixable, but try dragging policy writers away from their schmooze sessions and politicians away from the troughs. Debate climate change, be as skeptical as you like, whine about other people until hell gets pneumonia, much good it will do. Ignorance is its own reward.


~ by Cory Morningstar on October 19, 2010.

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