Sometime last week my computer which had looked healthy suddenly died. In the following minutes I almost died too, those who have owned gadgets know of the bond that forms between man and machine- especially between Engineer and machine.
But I digress, what I wanted to say is that as I restored my documents after buying a new hard drive I came across an article I wrote last year on the 31st of October as the world officially welcomed its 7 billionth citizen.
The context has not changed, Africa’s politicians are still corrupt and irresponsible and so, yeah, I decide to post it again here. Only problem is it’s rather long….
Today Monday October 31, 2011 is like yesterday in so many ways; it’s very hot, boring and of course I’m still broke. But there is a difference, today the world officially welcomed its 7 billionth citizen, one of about 382 000 babies born today. Seven billion is a huge number and a worrying one too considering the earth is neither getting bigger nor increasing its resources, therefore my message to the 7th billion citizen is: Welcome to this dreadful, polluted and cruel place we call home.
The problem is not one of space; don’t worry about crowding- at least not yet, there is space enough for a couple more billions. The main question is: Will the earth’s resources be able to sustain the population? Already a billion people do not get enough food and water, pollution is on the rise, global temperatures are increasing and natural resources are dwindling. And the population of the world is increasing, there will be a billion more by 2024 and we’ll reach 9 billion in 2045. The result is pretty obvious, with more people competing for the same resources humanity will become more susceptible to war.
“But one wonders whether our governments care about such things, they seem more concerned with increasing the lengths of their motorcades and the circumferences of their bellies. Not forgetting their favourite hobbies: Insulting each other, going around the globe and shopping in distant cities with fancy names.”
Some argue that it is not about population increase but rather about distribution and consumption of the resources. With efficient and responsible use, they say, the earth’s resources will be able to sustain its population. Some people need to be more responsible in their use of energy and less wasteful with their food and water. Billions of Megawatts are wasted yearly by inefficient light bulbs, unnecessary heating and keeping lights on during the day. Distribution is also another problem; the majority of the world’s resources are consumed by about 20% of the population.
It is therefore more important than ever to devise and use alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The advantage of these energy sources is twofold, firstly they reduce the strain on our natural resources and secondly they are cleaner and renewable. The other, less popular alternative is nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is perhaps the only energy source which can keep up with mankind’s growing demand but it can also have disastrous consequences. Across the globe there are groups campaigning for the end of the use of nuclear plants as power sources. The lessons of Hiroshima, Chernobyl and, more recently, Japan are not easily forgotten.
Population increase is fastest in Africa and very soon there will be five Africans for every European. The rapid population increase in Africa is caused by many factors among them traditionalistic views, lack of contraceptives and religion (the Catholic Church does not allow the use of contraceptives). Ironically Africa also has most of the world’s hungry, famines and countless wars. Whilst there are many reasons for the wars and famines it is obvious that an uncontrolled population increase will have dire consequences. Our leaders should therefore shift their focus to this very important issue and put in place measures to decrease the rate at which Africa’s population is increasing.
Population control is not without undesirable effects as seen in the case of Japan. Japan’s birth rate is critically low, its working class is too old and the country is now coercing its citizens to have children. No one would want that to happen to Africa yet the population increase needs to be controlled. In a continent which has severe food shortages an ever increasing population is the last thing we need. Part of the solution is political, stable and strong governments are better equipped and have more time to combat this menace. But one wonders whether our governments care about such things, they seem more concerned with increasing the lengths of their motorcades and the circumferences of their bellies. Not forgetting their favourite hobbies: Insulting each other, going around the globe and shopping in distant cities with fancy names.
The future is not as bleak as it seems though; there are some positives to population increase. A bigger population has more diversity, the chances of getting another Hitler or Gaddafi increase and also another Einstein, Zinedine Zidane and other remarkable people who have had impacts, both negative and positive, on our lives. Also, we get a new generation which brings with it happiness, new cultures, technological advances (especially important now that Steve Jobs is dead). And of course an increased population means you become more unique- Instead of being one in a million I am now one in 7 billion and so are you……….