I’m sure you’ve heard people say that some crazy things are happening in the world right now. It’s not just your imagination. Some of these things are more obvious than others, but they’re all worth thinking about. So let’s dive into them:
we’re running low on water. Water is absolutely essential for human life and 70% of Earth’s surface is covered in it. Unfortunately, 97% of it is salty seawater or ice. And we’re running low on freshwater too; the supply of fresh groundwater is less than 1% of what it was millions of years ago, and one-third of humans currently live in places where it’s either difficult or impossible to get.
We’ve got no idea how bad climate change will be. Scientists believe that climate change could result in a 5-9 degree increase in global temperatures by 2100 which would have devastating effects on life across Earth. If we keep going along our current path it might not just affect us through natural disasters like floods and drought in some parts of the world, but also through food shortages in others due to decreased agricultural yields.
Our economic system encourages growth. There are limited resources available for us to use, but our economic system demands growth. This means that companies have to constantly compete with each other for resources and market share in a never-ending cycle of expansion which exacerbates problems like environmental degradation and resource depletion.
Not Optimizing Food Supply
we’re not optimizing our food supply. The way we produce food at the moment is incredibly inefficient; using up 28% of all ice-free land surface (around 33% of arable land), while producing only 14% of all our food according to some estimates. And around 30-50% (some say up to 70%) of the food we produce goes to waste, either due to overproduction or spoilage / poor transportation methods/storage. You can read more about this here.
we’re not optimizing our energy use either. Energy production is also incredibly inefficient, consuming 65-70% of all-natural resources according to some surveys. Fossil fuels are still dominant sources of energy that produce greenhouse gases, while alternatives like wind and solar are difficult to implement on a large scale due to their reliance on rare earth metals. And other renewables like tidal power can have negative effects on ecosystems unless they’re implemented extremely carefully.
Economy Depends on War
The world’s economy depends on war. Most of the world’s wealthiest countries got that way through imperialism/colonialism where they plundered weaker nations for resources and labor, as well as engaging in countless bloody conflicts among themselves for domination. Today, without these practices it seems almost certain that many economies would see serious declines resulting in widespread unemployment and poverty.
Not Purposeful Jobs:
The jobs that most people work in don’t actually serve any useful purpose. According to research by author David Graeber, up to 50% of jobs could be eliminated if we stopped wasting time on needless bureaucracy. And you can add another 9% onto that figure for all the pointless forms of labor required just to keep an average job going (cleaning etc). While many argue that these are simply a part of life, Graeber argues that the only reason they exist is due to bad management practices which have been carried over from when employment was scarce.
Out of Arable Land
We’re running out of arable land. There’s a finite supply of habitable earth and eventually, our cities will expand so far outwards they’ll merge into one another. At that point, we’ll have no choice but to either build upwards or spread outwards onto new lands, but with population growth continuing at its current pace its likely things would reach breaking point before then.
Food and water shortages
Food and water shortages could lead to social unrest. There are already examples of this happening around the world today; whether it’s the food riots seen in 2008 and 2011, or whether it’s issues like the ones faced by South Africa where some people can’t get hold of clean running water for days on end.
Industrial processes produce an endless stream of pollution. Most industries release harmful chemicals while manufacturing their goods and agriculture is also a major source of environmental degradation through practices such as land clearing for crops/livestock. Mining is another major issue, either for the destruction of natural areas or because of issues like oil spills/leaks. And on top of all that, industrial pollution has been linked to things like acid rain which destroys waterways and crops.
Health System Optimization
Our health system is also badly optimized. Despite spending so much time and money on research, medical advances are only incremental when they happen at all. There’s little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to look into preventative measures (which would cut into sales) and patients often go without care too due to prices being too high; not to mention how many people get misdiagnosed these days through poor testing practices.