/ War, virus or climate change?

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Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
I was speaking to someone else last night who's recently read Cormack McCarthy's The Road and we ended up talking about the potentially turbulent century ahead. We got to thinking of how it's quite easy to feel like our existence is secure and permanent; this coming from two people of a generation that never had to endure the real possibility of an invasion, the threat of the cold war and obviously things like the plague/spanish flu.

So we started thinking of things that might have the potential to end life as we know it in the next 50-100 years, with the help of decades of apocalyptic books and films the same three beasts seemed to crop up; large/nuclear conflict, a pandemic disease and climate change. (We discounted zombies!)

A turbulent middle east with the possibility of Iran joining pakistan and N Korea in the nuclear club; the persistant threat of bird flu like diseases which although only reported during an outbreak is always an ongoing possibility; and finally, even looking past the classic natural disasters, climate change is looking like it's going to have the far more serious consequence of reducing our worldwide food production capabilities. So without being too pessimistic, any one want to take a gamble on which one may come along first, if any of them?
Minneconjou Sioux - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Human population growth is unsustainable at its current level.

We will run out of natural resources or they will continue to become scarce. This will lead to war.

War will not necessarily be the end and innovation will continue to advance our capabilities but there will be a significant restructure of human popultion distribution.

But I could be wrong ;-)

ice.solo - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Virus for the wealthy, climate change for the poor, war for the middle lot.

But a few will prosper on the debris of the rest and things will grind onwards.
Dax H - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp: I think either war or a virus, most likely a virus released during or developed for war that gets out of control.
Climate change will get most of us in the end but I suspect we will have already done the job ourselves.
off-duty - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Zombies. Or maybe narwhal. Or maybe zombie narwhal ;-)
highclimber - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp: North Korea scares me a little, as does Iran and their developing nuclear capabilities!

The outbreak of a deadly disease will for all intents and purposes be a good thing for the planet. Google Thomas Malthus on this point.

yeti on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

well there are always some people who are naturaly immune to ebola, aids, etc

not many granted, but some. also scorpions survive being near atomic tests

so life will erm live on,

if i had to put money on it, i would bet on "no dramatic end"

though the population thing has to be looked at and deforestation

hokkyokusei - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

You've missed out major asteroid strike. Over geological time, this is a certainty.
Simon4 - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

> Human population growth is unsustainable at its current level.

Strange how this is never popular with the appocalypse enthusiasts, mainly because it really is an incovenient truth for them, for all sorts of reasons - it is very hard to indulge in their favorite, comfort-zone, passtime of blaming "the West" for this effect.

Not only is human population growth unsustainable, it is highly questionable whether the current population can be sustained with the vast rate of resource inputs that our mode of living requires. In addition, continued population growth is guaranteed due to population structures, especially in those parts of the world least able to sustain it, i.e. the proportion of the population below 16 and 25 make it certain that catastrophic growth will continue for many decades at least, even if there were some magical transition now to bring down the numbers of offspring per woman, or to lengthen generation times. Nor is it certain that the demographic transition is a certain description of what will always happen when societies become advanced, it may just be a reasonably good historical account of European societies in the late 19th century, not a universal effect.

Yet in the West we continue to provide an endless range of subsidies for breeding, which we cannot afford, to produce populations we cannot employ, cannot house, do not have the infrastructure for, when any realistic demands for massive populations are forever going in the other way - we need less people all the time, not more.

> We will run out of natural resources or they will continue to become scarce. This will lead to war.

You are correct that a violent and chaotic response to our structural problems is far more likely than any controlled, managed one. Especially if we stubbornly refuse to recognise the impact of human over-population.


Dauphin - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Simon4:

You forget - unhappy, fatalistic white people need to f*ck to make more unhappy fatalistic white people to keep the Daily Mail in circulation.

D
dissonance - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to hokkyokusei:

> You've missed out major asteroid strike. Over geological time, this is a certainty.

speaking of geological time, yellowstone or one of the other larger volcanoes going up.
Dauphin - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

More countries armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons will make the world a safer place - 30 years of mutually assured destruction can't be wrong.

It makes the them less likely to be invaded by NATO; unless it's with drone strikes and 'your' government turns a blind eye and pretends it can do nothing. They are only rogue because they couldn't give a stuff about being told what to do by the U.S. It's only terrorism when they do it. When we do it absolutely justified.

D
Simon4 - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Dauphin:

> You forget - unhappy, fatalistic white people need to f*ck to make more unhappy fatalistic white people to keep the Daily Mail in circulation.

The silliest, knee-jerk, useless response of a sneering Guardianista - makes them feel self-righteous and superior, contributes nothing to the sum of human wisdom nor helps any problem in any way.

Dauphin - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Simon4:

Get bent? Happy Christmas. Santimonous piffle twaddler.

D
Dauphin - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Simon4:

You are Peter Hitchens & I claim my 5.

D
dissonance - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Simon4:

> even if there were some magical transition now to bring down the numbers of offspring per woman, or to lengthen generation times.

looks at the average birth rate in the West. wow we have found that magical transition.
If you are going to try and confuse issues together (namely support policies in the west vs population growth elsewhere) could you at least try and do it competently?

Since I am guessing you wont have caught on to some of the newer research around child friendly policies.
Andes - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:
When you see how this forum has degenerated quite quickly into petty insults and mutual antagonism as more and more people have joined in, it's hard to see how more and more people on the planet with different opinions are not going to go the same way and end up fighting each other.
Wonko The Sane - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:


Well, since, because of geolocial processes, most minerals are found in mountainous regions, and mountains often form borders, we might well see an increase in petty border squabbles as China, India, Pakistan and some thrid world countries fight over those resources.

Then there's global warming which means we are probably going to lose a lot of area in population centres due to flooding over the next 100 years.

As populations become more concentrated and increase, small wars over available water may well occur.

America are still I think the largest producers, but also the largest consumers, but since it's all based on debt, we may see them shrink in terms of world power to a point where China are ascendant.

There's the fault line (can't remember it's name) north of the San Andreas fault which is due a good quake, which will cause quite a bit of devastation.

Then there's the La Palma megastunami to worry about, that one will be epic apparently, putting anything else we've seen in the shade....... a mile high wall of water hitting the East coast of the USA.

And closer to home, I hear The Isle of Wight is lobbying for a postcode entirely seperate from Portsmouth!!!!!!!
That'll cause ructions.
David Martin - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Minneconjou Sioux)
>
> [...]
> - it is very hard to indulge in their favorite, comfort-zone, passtime of blaming "the West" for this effect.

Unfortunately, when it comes to overpopulation, the West is the problem. There might be more people in the less developed world, but per head their lower consumption levels result in negligible impact. They might be catching up now but only, and justifiably, following the West's example. Moreover, being the wealthy countries that we are, if we aren't willing to slow or moderate our lifestyles, who are we to preach to them?
doz - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp: Sudden and massive glaciation....five years of blissful winter conditions after which all the ugly stuff we've plastered the northern hemisphere with will be ground into oblivion by the advancing ice sheets
Oh.. And the polar bears will rule the planet again
ads.ukclimbing.com
Timmd on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

A mixture of war and climate change and obesity and virus and population growth.

Oh well. (:-))
Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
>
> Virus for the wealthy, climate change for the poor, war for the middle lot.
>
> But a few will prosper on the debris of the rest and things will grind onwards.

I think you've probably hit the nail on the head there, although I think the three will affect everyone, it's just that obviously the richer will stay comfortable for longer.
Timmd on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
>
> Virus for the wealthy, climate change for the poor, war for the middle lot.
>
> But a few will prosper on the debris of the rest and things will grind onwards.

I think the wealthy will be the most insulated from most things, I agree about climate change. There are some predictions of mass migrations happening from Sub Saharan Africa and from Asia due to climate change.

The mountainous regions which provide water to billions of people in South America and Asia are also in trouble spots politically, and have desirable/much wanted or needed mineral reserves in them as well.

It seems likely that climate change could trigger quite a number of negative things I think.
Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Dauphin:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
>
> More countries armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons will make the world a safer place - 30 years of mutually assured destruction can't be wrong.

Most of that post comes across as being slightly insane anti-western propaganda. A small number of countries have nuclear weapons at the moment, we've come close to complete nuclear destruction during the cold war and Japan has had nuclear bombs detonated on it's soil. And you're saying that if we have more nuclear weapons these things will be less likely to happen?

> It makes the them less likely to be invaded by NATO; unless it's with drone strikes and 'your' government turns a blind eye and pretends it can do nothing.

Why have you brought drone strikes up? And I take it when you say "invaded" you're talking about any NATO deployment, srebrenica, Kosovo for e.g., or is it just the deployments you don't like that are "invasions"? Since when has "my" government turned a blind eye to drone strikes and pretended we could do nothing? Every man and his dog is aware of drone strikes and what they do, aware that they kill innocent civilians. No one pretends otherwise. There always seems to be a disturbing undercurrent to these kind of arguments which seems to stem from thinking that the west should somehow be above this kind of behaviour, like a kind of xenophobic version of a racism of low expectation. Do you think Pakistan would refrain from drone strikes if the boot was on the other foot? (by the way i don't support drone strikes, i just don't know why you brought it up)

>They are only rogue because they couldn't give a stuff about being told what to do by the U.S. It's only terrorism when they do it. When we do it absolutely justified.

No one cares if they're rogue, in terms of apocalyptic possibilities the problem comes if an unstable country has nuclear weapons, for obvious reasons. Why do you have a problem of it being terrorism if 'they' do it and "absolutely justified" when 'we' do it? Surely thats essential to the definition of terrorism. Terrorism is something that "the enemy" does, if a western country bombs a school they're terrorists in the eyes of a local, if an eastern country did it to a western school then they would be terrorists to the locals too. It's like saying it's only the enemy when they shoot you, when you shoot them it's fine. Name one person in history who said "well, they attacked us but it was justified". "They" are terrorists because "they" are "them" and not "us", it's a subjective term. To semi quote Bob Dylan, everyone has God on their side, it's just human nature and nothing to do with the West or the East.

Also, it's quite hard to understand what you mean when you fill a post with them and us, who are you talking about? "They are only rogue"...who is rogue?
Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
>As populations become more concentrated and increase, small wars over available water may well occur.

I was wondering about this and how possible it is to have "small wars" these days. Back in the day (like really back in the day) I can see how small wars would break out over resources. In the modern day, with our alliances and massive technological capacity for destruction would it be possible to have a small war with a neighbour?
cuppatea on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
> [...]
>
> I think the wealthy will be the most insulated from most things, I agree about climate change. There are some predictions of mass migrations happening from Sub Saharan Africa and from Asia due to climate change.

That'll be the zombies then, hordes of starving beings in ripped clothing attacking the victims.

>
> The mountainous regions which provide water to billions of people in South America and Asia are also in trouble spots politically, and have desirable/much wanted or needed mineral reserves in them as well.

Wars have started over less.
>
> It seems likely that climate change could trigger quite a number of negative things I think.

Not least the most feared of all:
TAXATION!

Which, to get back on track, helps to keep the poor poor and accelerates their turning into Zombies, err I mean rioters.
Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to David Martin:
> (In reply to Simon4)
> [...]
>
> Unfortunately, when it comes to overpopulation, the West is the problem. There might be more people in the less developed world, but per head their lower consumption levels result in negligible impact.

Doesn't that presuppose that the status quo will be maintained? Less developed countries' population is sky rocketing compared to our own, here in Scotland our population would be shrinking if it wasn't for immigration.

The problem isn't so much the West (why is everyone hell bent on fueling East/West confrontation?) the problem is that the west is heavily populated and high consumption, if less developed nations continue to over populate then when they develop into high consumption nations the strain will be increased. The problem isn't the west, nor is it anywhere else. The problem is human consumption and finite resources.

Wonko The Sane - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
> >As populations become more concentrated and increase, small wars over available water may well occur.
>
> I was wondering about this and how possible it is to have "small wars" these days. Back in the day (like really back in the day) I can see how small wars would break out over resources. In the modern day, with our alliances and massive technological capacity for destruction would it be possible to have a small war with a neighbour?

I think so?
There are small 'wars' that have gone one and are going on. Middle east for example. Us against the Argentinians.

But more to the point, as the world comes under more stress I think that allies will have their own issues to deal with and perhaps less likely to wade in. Especially since they know the possibilities of escalation.
Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to David Martin:
> (In reply to Simon4)
> Moreover, being the wealthy countries that we are, if we aren't willing to slow or moderate our lifestyles, who are we to preach to them?

Also, who's preaching? We're talking about what you think will happen, lets face it Africa will continue to starve long before climate change leaves us hungry in the evening.

But no ones preaching here and even if we were why would you have a problem with that? All it is, is like saying "my Grandad did this thing that's killing everyone, he profited from it but maybe it would be better if you didn't do it as well so we don't all die." Granted it's not fair but that's life, if you drilled a hole in the side of your boat you would probably still try and suggest that, despite your stupidity, the other 800 passengers might want to refrain from following your example.
Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to Timmd)
>TAXATION!
> Which, to get back on track, helps to keep the poor poor and accelerates their turning into Zombies, err I mean rioters.

You realise that the wealthy generally pay more taxes than the poor? Ok so there is tax avoidance but if you are really poor it's the sh*t wages that f*ck you not the small taxes.
Ben Sharp - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Wonko The Sane:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
> [...]
>
> I think so?
> There are small 'wars' that have gone one and are going on. Middle east for example. Us against the Argentinians.
>
> But more to the point, as the world comes under more stress I think that allies will have their own issues to deal with and perhaps less likely to wade in. Especially since they know the possibilities of escalation.

Yeah there are small wars, but you were talking about small wars over water. Surely if a country ends up fighting over essential resources it's not going to do so across the globe, it's going to be with it's neighbours.
Wonko The Sane - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to Wonko The Sane)
> [...]
>
> Yeah there are small wars, but you were talking about small wars over water. Surely if a country ends up fighting over essential resources it's not going to do so across the globe, it's going to be with it's neighbours.

I think you may have read it wrong. I never suggested global wars over water.
cuppatea on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
> [...]
> >TAXATION!
> [...]
>
> You realise that the wealthy generally pay more taxes than the poor? Ok so there is tax avoidance but if you are really poor it's the sh*t wages that f*ck you not the small taxes.


I'll answer your question with a "yes I do" :|

But this is a thread about the End Of The World.

The Rich are insulated, the poor aren't.

Who pays tax? The Rich. Who riots? The Poor.

Or to put it another way, it's the culture of expectation and entitlement that will be the problem. This exists amongst the poor as much as it does the rich...it exists in "the west", less so in Africa.

all the above imho as it were, Merry Christmas :-)
Giles Davis - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I've only read the OP but I'd go with disease. Humans have a "Predator / Prey" relationship with the Earth and I think unfortunately we're well overdue for an arse kicking, so virus or bacteria to cull us me thinks.

Happy Christmas everyone!! :D
DancingOnRock - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp: Fatness. The rich nations will continue to get fatter until they eventually explode.
AndyC - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I'll go with cock up on the GM food front leading to starvation, rioting, war, famine, devastation of the northern hemisphere and the mass exodus of the Aussie contingent from London. 'On the Beach' but without the radiation!
Daithi O Murchu - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

were toast once the windfarms liven up and start walking the earth.

They will want revenge for that mundane existence of just going round and round and round and round and ..... you the drift
Blue Straggler - on 25 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Read Frank Herbert's "The White Plague". Happy days :-)

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