By some estimates there are close to 1.5 Billion people in the world today, that live on a dollar a day (1.3 is the official figure according to UN link).
That’s almost 22 % of the entire human species.That’s a staggering figure and maybe part of the reason why we have so much strife in the world.
Living on a dollar a day, these people definitely do not have access to the very basic necessities, namely a roof on top of their head, adequate food and clean supply of drinking water.
The Mother of all Crisis:
Undoubtedly, there are some really wicked crisis that have been in the making for the last couple of years/decade. But in terms of a quantitative impact, the biggest crisis brewing under our feet is that of climate change. By some estimates, a 3 degree change (net increase) in global worldwide temperatures is bound to set off a series of events that will have disastrous ramifications link. As if the threat of losing entire communities in the coastal regions was not enough (634 Million @ Risk link). There is also the threat of losing arable farmland across a very large swath of the world map (Sub Sahara Africa and South Asia will be hit hard) link It would make the previous foot riots look very pale in comparison, as the impact of a rapidly changing climate has the potential of impacting hundreds of millions.
Increasing populations and depleting farm land is a recipe for disaster. It has the potential for derailing entire regions, because eventually there will be violent uprisings.
Once the physical effects of climate change start showing, it might get very chaotic very very quickly (say a couple of months as opposed to a couple of years). Our world is increasingly inter-connected for it’s food, energy and commercial needs. But not all regions have the capabilities of dealing with major crises and there is a very high likelihood that major unrest due to climate change has the potential of bringing the entire world to a stand still.
Now there is a lot of collusion related to climate change coming from a lot of different camps. Obviously there are competing ‘interests’. Fossil fuel industries would never want anyone to believe that climate change might be exacerbated or induced by the usage of oil, gas and coal. However, and to their defense, the polar ice caps have been melting on Mars link. Curiosity hasn’t exactly found any life resembling those crazy homosapiens and their penchant for burning fossil fuel. So it’s hard to refute what the “fossil industry backed” scientists have been claiming all this time. There are other pieces to this bizarre mystery, from scientist flip flopping on their stance on the Himalayan glaciers and how quickly they will be melting. But these very scientific projections do tend to change every 6 months link .
It’s hard to come to realization as to what is true and what isn’t. Specifically with news about Climate Scientists getting death threats the world over. Turns out, this was a self promoted conspiracy from the ranks of the scientists themselves, which has since then been debunked link Guess it’s no wonder that day to day conversations about climate change are generally concerned with to how the polar bears would fare in the future. Don’t get me wrong. I do care about the polar bears. But the real impact from the effects of climate change appears to be much more encompassing and as highlighted above.
The Gray Area:
The collusion, specific to climate change remains and will likely remain for a while. Then the major institutions in the world are busy tackling immediate crisis at the moment (Waning war on Terror, Economic crisis). This results in a situation where the focus isn’t so much on events that will take place down the road. Further compounding the climate debate issue (or lack there of) is the inability to exactly pin point what is going to happen and when exactly is it going to occur. The political and governance structures are for the better part concerned with what is happening now and in the foreseeable future. So the climate change bucket gets kicked down the lane in every single respect.
Nationalism trumps Collective Human Destiny:
There are a myriad number of reasons why humans fail to look at each other as part of a collective species. That is a long debate by itself. But at the crux of it, evolution has to do a lot with it. Also the very systems that the humans have designed, invariably end up creating situations whereby a crisis, any major crisis (between two seemingly separate entities) has a very high likelihood of escalating into a conflict. Some conflicts are disastrous, specially in light of the fact that a counter approach of co-operation could’ve been much more feasible. Unfortunately, the various global structures of governance in contrast with the competing national interests invariably reduce the probability, that a path of co-operation over conflict would be chosen. This here is an over simplified, yet important observation to make. If humans cannot relate to each other as part of the same species than you can forget about ever getting a consensus for fixing the majority of the world’s problems. And climate change, global poverty are no exception here. Also, how we choose to acknowledge and tackle these crisis’s, is, what will eventually decide the path that the collective human destiny would follow.
The Two Camps:
Specific to the topic at hand, there are two camps of people. One of the groups is not that concerned with the kind of ramifications that climate change would unleash in an another part of the world. The other group obviously has a contrariwise view of the whole situation. It could be vice versa and the actual sensibilities fluctuate on multiple wavelengths across both sides of the divide. Meaning some are more ‘passionate’ than the others, in both these groups. Not sure how one would go about defining this phenomenon, but would it be succinct to say that there might be a general lack of compassion in some respect. Maybe it’s apathy. Whatever the cause, the divide exists. This phenomenon is one side of the coin (nationalism is the other, as described above) which inhibits massive global change from occurring. However and ironically, no one is to blame here. As the kind of consensus, as described above, isn’t exactly the abode of any major/global institution that we know of. United Nations is obviously not that effective, if at ever. Since the 1/4 of the entire human species lives under abject poverty. So, not entirely sure what kind of “lofty” goals the UN has set for itself during it’s almost 70 years of existence.
The RealityAgain, not entirely sure how and when the repercussions from climate change would come into effect. But considering how the threat of climate change is being ignored, the “logical outcome” would probably end up being a Geo-engineering hack of sorts. That is, something major happens as a result of climate change, there is pressure on the Governing institutions. Who invariably would put pressure on the scientific community, so that a solution is put in place with the intent of counter measuring that phenomenon.
Considering the fact that, experiments Geo-engineering of a nature, have only been conducted in simulated (computer based modeling) environments. No one really knows what is going to happen, say if or rather when we inject sulphur dioxie into the stratosphere. Or say, the long term effects of dumping iron dust into the oceans. Btw, if you ever want to find out what are some of the different experiments being conducted, with an intent of trying to combat Climate Change. Then check out this one book highlighted in my blog-post here link. It’s a great read, specially if this topic is of interest to you.
For the time being, one would hope that there would be more research money pumped into getting a better understanding of what is really going on with the global climate trends. But during these times of austerity measures, that remains an aspiration. And an aspiration it shall remain.
So, to recap. We started with some present day statistics when it comes to global poverty levels. Moved right onto the subject of climate change and how it has the capability of impacting billions more. Briefly touched base on topics such as collusion about climate change, lack of will e.t.c. Also the probable outcome of what’s going to occur as a consequence (Geo-engineering) once climate change hits us with full force on a reoccurring basis.
It’s not hard to extrapolate what the outcome is going to be. At the end of the day, it’s all contingent on how extreme and erratic the weather patterns really become. Everything considered, the probable outcome of climate change is probably going to result into increasing levels of poverty and misery all over the globe. When we come to that realization, that would be the point where the entire debate becomes an ethical debate. I think in some respects, it already is, but we don’t talk about it. But, do we have to wait till that trigger point where everything starts breaking apart? Can we not have more visibility and insight into what is really going on with the climate. And concurrently, work on a model and a framework for lifting billions out of the shackles of poverty. Not entirely sure, why we continue ignoring the threat of climate change to be quite honest.
My next blog-post is going to be centered around ideas for the new world. How we can leverage some of the up and coming technologies, with a core intent of trying to lift these 1.5 billion people out of poverty, without impacting the environment.