Three coming crises

There is an academic discipline called “Futures Research”. No kidding. Basically what they do is to study the present and look where we are going.

Few years back I spent some time with these people and looked forward myself. I figured there are three major disasters we will more or less inevitably face. That is: Unless something is done about it, we tend to get where we are going; so far no-one has done anything significant; the later an action is taken the more drastic it would need to be to be significant; it may already be too late to do anything anyway.

The areas of the issues are finance, natural resources and ecosystem. In this order and each will send the previous one into oblivion by comparison.

First there seems to be an imminent global financial disaster. The present turmoil is mundane. The real issue is that the money used in the world is backed up by nothing and is being printed to promote inflation. The US dollar is taking the lead. Historically such conditions have always resulted in hyperinflation and there’s no reason why that wouldn’t happen this time as well. The major difference to past being that due to globalization this event is likely to immediately crash all the global currency and financial systems. No single actor wants it to happen, but the tide seems to be far too large even for all of them to stop it together. Unfortunately it is impossible to predict when this will happen. Could be anything from hours to years.

However, economical systems are just a social contracts. Next crisis will hit on natural resources. Most crucial ones are energy, water and food. Energy is needed to produce water and food. At the moment the worlds population is fed from fertilized fields using heavy machinery relying in oil. Oil is unlikely to get any cheaper (we may already have passed the peak oil) and phosphorus (a key ingredient in fertilizers) may have peaked as well. In English; there will be less of these available in future than there is now. As the continental glaciers in the Himalayas are diminishing, the water they collect to the great rivers of Asia is predicted to decline. In the meanwhile the groundwater is being depleted in many areas, e.g. in some areas in India.

I recall it has been estimated that the world could sustainably support about 500 million people. But that number decreases by the day as we are consuming the natural resources. But how would we get down even to that number? Three words come to my mind: War, famine, pestilence. When? Anything from years to decades.

The third disaster on the way is the global collapse of ecosystems. Driving forces are mass extinction of species (of which human is the main driving force) loss of habitat, loss of biodiversity and pollution. And the climate change doesn’t exactly help either. Result: With some luck, rats will be the greatest hunters in the world. When? Not in  the dawning decade. Unlikely to happen in the next either.

These things are no state secrets. Many people in the west more or less know about these issues. It’s more that we don’t want to know. It’s hard. I know. Like the previous generation, we too live in the fear of the end of the world. But where as before someone had to do something to put the mushroom cloud up, now everyone would have to do much to give the humanity at least a chance to some sort of future. Before doing nothing was safe. Now nothing is.

As far as I know, there’s nothing short of a big miracle that could give the humanity a future beyond a mere century. And God does not owe as one. As far as I know Him, He might just call it a game over this time. The ultimate question then is: “How do you prepare for the end of the world?”

Of course that’s a theological question. While we might be tempted to say that this creates a sense of urgency for evangelizing, I’d like to disagree. It should create a sense of urgency for repenting. Any evangelizing should only follow that.

Honestly, I find these prospects quite gloomy, and find it hard even to talk about them. Nevertheless I think we should be aware of these risks as we consider our future. Thoughts anyone?