I recently stayed at a high-end Hotel for business and was struck by how empty the place was. No matter where I went I was alone, wandering the halls of a seemingly empty facility. It was unsettling and strange, like a plot out of a B-grade movie where suddenly one person finds that he is all alone in the world.
One evening while eating dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, I mentioned my observation to the waitress. “Your right,” she said. “I think with one exception you are the only person staying here. In fact, we just had to lay off a lot of our employees. Some had been here for years.” I replied that I was sorry to hear that the economic crisis has hit them so hard.
“It’s more than just the economy,” she continued as she stared up at the ceiling; “Something just doesn’t seem right. It’s as if the world is off course or something. Just watch TV, its all doom and gloom. It reminds me of the months just after September 11, when the world went into a holding pattern while everybody waited anxiously for who-knows-what to happen. I’m nervous. All my friends are nervous.” She paused and looked back down at me as she finished her musings, “Anyway, one thing is certain: we live in interesting times…”
I think that short story is the perfect place to begin this article on family readiness and survival in an uncertain world. Why? Because my waitress was right, we do live in interesting times; times that will likely present significant challenges to all of us. Please understand, this is not mere opinion, nor is it gloom-mongering. Scholars from many diverse disciplines agree that we live in an epochal time, an age where trends and events appear to be taking on a life of their own, some good and many bad. Even President Obama in his recent inaugural address prophetically noted that there are ‘gathering clouds and raging storms’ on the horizon.
So what exactly is going on, and what should a reasonable person do about it? Those are the two central questions that I would like to explore in this article. First, I want to examine some significant trends that appear to be shaping our world and our future, and then I will offer some suggestions on what you and your family can do to meet the potential challenges that we may have to face individually and collectively as we live through these interesting times (part two of this article). Let’s start with five trends that will likely raise your eyebrows. For more details please visit these sites:- 7mgg.com
1. Global Population & Resource Scarcity
Are you aware that global population has doubled in the past 40 years, going from 3.3 billion to just under 7 billion today? Think about that for a minute. Forty years is an insignificant number in the global scale of time, and yet, in the past 40 years alone we have doubled the number of people living on this planet. And while much of this growth has occurred in rapidly developing countries such as China and India, it should still concern you. Why? Because, according to the Worldwatch Institute, in the very near future food demand from China and India alone will likely exceed the current global agricultural production capacity, driving global food prices higher as countries compete for ever-dwindling agricultural resources.
In fact, you are likely seeing evidence of this trend in your grocery prices right now. What’s more, water tables on every continent are declining as we pump out water at greater rates than rainwater can replenish it, (and human waste continues to foul what water we have left). Right now, more than 400 million people suffer from water scarcity, and the Population Media Center predicts that number will hit the 2 billion mark soon – 25% of the entire planet’s population. Two commodities that we all take for granted, food and water, will within your lifetime very likely become as precious as gold. And finally, exponential growth in population is mirrored by increases in demand for oil – that precious and incredibly efficient source of energy that our society relies upon.
It may surprise you to learn that the world’s supply of oil is diminishing, and according to most scholars on the subject, we have already ‘peaked’ in oil production at a time when demand is at an all-time high and expected to grow exponentially. Given that most of society relies upon oil for manufacturing, food production, supply and distribution, transportation, construction, etc., etc., what do you think our world will look like when oil prices skyrocket due to shortages. Think about it…
2. Global Warming & Climate Change
Perhaps more than any other trend in recent history, the issue of global warming has spawned tremendous and often contentious debate. This debate has left many observers confused and bewildered, and has regrettably muddied up what is an agreed upon fact. Here is the fact that has been lost: Global warming is real. What is being debated is the causative agent of this warming – is the current level of warming the result of human activity or a natural planetary cycle? And while this debate is interesting, it is a red herring because it distracts attention from what is really happening, which is that the world’s increasing temperatures are causing the weather to act in weird, and frequently hostile ways. So what can you expect from a warming planet? Most scholars agree that warming will generate severe amplifications of normal weather patterns, resulting in significant infrastructure disruptions and power outages, changes to agricultural production, outbreaks of heretofore contained diseases, and the dislocation of entire populations of people as they run from harm’s way.
Thomas Friedman, in his seminal work ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’, coined the term “Global Weirding” for the effects of our warming planet. Bottom line: expect to see weird and wild things from Mother Nature as our planet continues to warm up. (In fact, the Hazards Research Center in Boulder Colorado recently reported that 2008 disaster related deaths were three times the yearly average!)
3. Predictions, Prophecies, & Portents
Every generation has its doom’s day scenario. Human history is replete with end-of-the-world predictions; whether religious or secular in motivation, we humans seem to be fascinated with our doom, and this current age is no different. However, what does appear to be different is that today there exists a strange and sobering confluence of multiple and varied predictions about the end of the world as we know it, all converging on or around the year 2012, (in fact, even Hollywood is jumping on the band wagon with a Summer 2009 blockbuster release titled “2012!”). Apparently, the year 2012 is when the ancient Mayans predicted the end of their ‘Long Count’, a calendar period of 5200 years, each of which was supposed to have ended in cataclysm. Interestingly, the current Long Count is considered to be the 5th and final ‘Great Year’, as the Mayans called it.