Published on Countercurrents.org, by John James, 19 November, 2008.
Two trends are crashing against one another. Both are well-known. They are that world population is getting larger while food and water is getting less.
The cause of the first is out-of-control fertility producing a flood of babies, mainly in Africa, India and South America. The second is rampant consumption that makes the pollution that causes warming that is reducing the earth’s capacity to grow more food.
Over-populating and over-consuming is a bit like Christmas, we cant stop cramming ourselves, buying more presents and over-spending on our credit cards – all for the sake of the thrill of doing it together …
… We had the money to import substitutes, but if we had been relying on charity there were only enough stocks of food in the world for five or six weeks. Starvation had drawn down the world’s food buffer to dangerous levels.
When there is a lack of food people get angry. We have already seen that price increases from food shortages have led to riots in many countries: Morocco, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Guinea, Mauritania and Senegal, just to mention a few. In the past year cereal prices have triggered violence in Mexico when corn that had been diverted into making biofuels pushed up the price of tortillas by 60 percent. In Italy, the rising cost of pasta prompted nationwide protests.
Nearly every one of these riots occurred in the cities. Now that half the world is living in great cities there is more tension just because there is less space.
Humans were created over millennia to live in small groups scattered over large areas. Being surrounded by space is a blessing, and the numbers seeking open views and the spaciousness of a small farm show how important this urge is.
When we are crammed together with less space, crime and domestic violence increases, and the crowding makes it easier to organise riots than in the countryside. In all these situations it is the very young, the children under ten, who bear the hardest impact.
In a recent report on The Implications of Climate Change for the World’s Children it was written that “Those who have contributed least to climate change are suffering the most. It is clear that a failure to address climate change is a failure to protect the children.” (full text).
Declaration of the Rights of the Child, Nov. 20, 1959;
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nov. 20,1989, (entry into force: 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49);
Congo-Kinshasa: Grass-Roots UN Project Aids Unemployed Mothers With Hungry Children;
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDHR turns 60 on 10 December 2008.