Monday, February 21, 2011

Future imperfect . . .

MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! is an SF novel by the American ex-pat, Harry Harrison, published in 1966, that became the SF classic flick, "Soylent Green", where the world is running out of food.

Well, we might have a soylent future ahead of us. According to Alasdair Wilkins at io9, in an article, "Can humanity survive a population of over 10 billion people?", 2011 is the year that world population hits 7,000,000,000. Yup, seven BILLION people.

By the end of this year, the human population is expected to reach seven billion people, just twelve years after we hit the six billion milestone. But how much more crowded is our planet going to get? Will we keep on expanding indefinitely, or are we approaching the upper limit? The current consensus is that we'll reach our maximum population by around 2050 and then start to slowly decline...but that might be based on two critically flawed assumptions.

But life has its surprises, and maybe things might get crunchy a lot sooner for a lot of people. Why? Because we are fishing the world's oceans to the point of extermination of major food species. Kerry Sheridan, at the Sydney Morning Herald, has an article, "Food supply threat from overfishing, study finds", which points out that

Fewer big predatory fish are swimming in the oceans because of overfishing, leaving smaller species to thrive and double in force over the past 100 years, scientists say.

Big fish such as cod, tuna, and grouper have declined worldwide by two-thirds while numbers of anchovies, sardines and capelin have surged in their absence, University of British Columbia researchers said.

People around the world are fishing more and coming up with the same or fewer numbers in their catch, indicating that humans may have reached the limit of the oceans' capacity to provide food.

Sure am glad I happen to like anchovies . . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Soylent green is a bit dry for me, but Stark by Ben Elton tells a great tale of the dieing of the earth and the plans of the rich to survive it. Concepts like total toxic overload are introduced.
The oceans are the first though.