Buzzword Books - unusual, intriguing, intelligent, perceptive

Here, you'll find musings from our authors and staff. We don't promise daily updates. Just posts worth your time.

Monday, 3 September 2018


This extract from a speech given by thriller writer Clinton Smith addresses the population crisis and doesn't miss a punch. 

What would be the goals of a sane and compassionate world?

According to one UN Under Secretary General, these would be: "preventing wars, promoting democracy and eradicating poverty."

But excessive human population is the elephant in the room. Almost every problem we have is based on population growth—pollution, poverty, scarcity of resources, the destruction of species and rape of the environment. But this is rarely if ever mentioned because it is impossible to address without losing votes or business favour. Corporations demand more customers or Units of Consumption. Which pressure group, for instance, do you think is pushing Australian immigration?

From AD 1 to 1750, world population was a flat line—stable. It rose steadily, from 1950 until the chart became near-vertical. From the 1900s, the curve is exponential—the line on the chart goes straight up. It took a century to go from one billion to two. Twelve years to go from four to five. Now it's a million every four days. A second China in ten years. World population will double in fifty years.

And the more people, the bigger the fight over dwindling resources. Get rid of the nationalistic spin and wars are almost always about resources. So we either destroy ourselves or control population growth.

You might consider that the function of war. No. Disease has always killed more people. But now we live too long. We're victims of medical advances. So, failing a plague or nuclear catastrophe, how do we cull populations?

Reducing births through government coercion isn't efficient enough. China's proved that. You're up against common instinct, traditional values. Bu the way, China has much to gain from flooding the world with people. For instance, the diaspora sends money back to relatives on the mainland. And there are at least 300 million unemployed so emigration's a safety valve against social instability. Now relate this to soft war.

Notice how more and more illegal immigrants wash against the shores of the world? Could emigration be used as a weapon?

Or would soft war involve sterilisation?

There's some evidence that sneak sterilisation trials have been run in several third world nations, last time in Manila. But that's difficult if it becomes public knowledge, as well as expensive and political disaster.

Perhaps one day some nation will weaponize AIDS by marrying it to the flu virus —long considered the best bio-weapon airborne delivery system.

Yes, this is a slightly satirical talk. But don't relax.

The facts are stark. In fifty years, population growth will exceed food production. By the way, it takes a tonne of oil to produce twelve tonnes of grain. And production of accessible oil will peak in 2030.

Will starvation do the trick? People are cooking each other in parts of North Korea now.

Failing an advanced technique that ensures death at forty—and given ethics that prevent us sterilising or infecting friendly nations, what's the solution.

Certainly not all-out nuclear war. That also equates to bio-system destruction. No. The practical way to control a nuclear armed foe is to do it without firing a weapon.

Use hard war as passive defence and soft war as a pre-emptive strike. But as you can't sell soft war to the electorate, it has to be a sneak attack.

Soft war. Think about it.

Some say the attack on Kosovo was designed to raise the US dollar against an encroaching euro.

I've suggested that soft war is increasingly a possibility. And I've said it will be covert. Something you won't immediately spot.

For instance, Western culture —our barrage of films and TV —is a tremendous soft war tool. Perhaps the best we have.

Another is Globalisation!

Let's quickly examine democracy's big brother, free market globalisation. Free for whom? Supply-side economics, functioning without distortion or corruption, is effective. But its ideology is a veneer that covers a thousand abuses.

As Chairman of Intel, Andy Grove said, "The purpose of the new Capitalism is to shoot the wounded."

We're told that the profit motive can serve the public good. But do you buy that without qualification? Does free trade assist the poor, or create them?

Ask a coffee farmer in Ethiopia, the middle class in Argentina or the protestors in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nigeria.

Remember that America had an oil tycoon President who was funded by Enron and elected by alleged vote rigging in Florida. Be aware that the IMF is 50% owned by the US treasury. The philosophy of the IMF, World Bank and WTO which can be taken as a triumvirate, is basically liberalised financial markets, smaller government, privatisation and the rest... This, in practice, translates as a savage reduction in government services and social security. According to one Nobel prize laureate, "repression and economic liberalisation are bedfellows."

In April 2000, the World Bank gathered nearly 1000 executives and bureaucrats in the Hague to discuss the privatisation of the world's water systems.

By the way, their five measures for a flexible private sector workforce are:

            Reduce salaries and benefits.
            Reduce pensions.
            Reduce job stability.
            Reduce employment.
            Increase working hours.

Sound familiar? The gig economy is now here.

Now we know from the supermarket chains that a monopoly fleeces customers at one end while squeezing suppliers at the other. And Napster shows that intellectual property rights have everything to do with corporate control.

GATS (general agreement on trade and services) has a plan to establish an international agency to veto or regulate the government decisions of individual nations. This agency, unlike parliaments, will hold closed hearings. One of its aims is to remove restrains on business. So that the public good becomes victim to the most "cost effective" way to deal with, for instance, pollution, transport safety, contaminated water. The rationalisations are inevitably supported by well compensated academics.

We know that contamination credits are an idea spawned by the business community. That while petrochemical cartels, such as BP paint their retail outlets green, they've done everything possible by misinformation and years of procrastination and denials, to pay lip service to new greener technologies while stonewalling all attempts to introduce them. But, just like everything, Globalisation will reach its limits and self-destruct.

Let's come back to the goals of a sane and compassionate world.

Preventing conflict, promoting democracy and eradicating poverty.

And what do we have? ...Violence. Plutocracy. Exploitation. A thousand evils sugared with fine words.

The future?

Predicting the future's hazardous. Because things happen in ways we never thought of. But, soft war will never cull populations. Governments are too venal. There is currently no mileage in genocide. People are cash cows to be milked.

But I believe we could agree on one thing. Areas of nuclear contamination.

If it can be done, it will be done. Just too much stuff out there. Too many egos. And too many chances for snafus in systems and chains of command.

Some time, somewhere, something or someone will snap.

Yes, the threat of nuclear winter or eco-death is a tough sale politically. But get people spooked about an enemy attack and the attitude flips.

That's why nations from North Korea and Pakistan are playing with the matchbox now.

As the hair ad says: "It won't happen overnight. But it will happen."

Now, a final perspective. What if the problem and its solution are not in our hands at all? That we are not the cause—merely the symptom? What if nature—utterly indifferent to stupid little us and red in tooth and claw—requires our proliferation for some purpose? And, in good time, intends to destroy us, or enable us to destroy ourselves. It happened with the dinosaurs and thousands of other species. Why are we so special? If we don't shape up, it will ship us out as another failed experiment.

Too bleak?

That's why it's probably true.

You can find Clint's latest thriller PROJECT THUNDER on Buzzword.

No comments:

Post a Comment