Did you know?

20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of the planet’s resources. GEO4, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) 2007.

The world spends 12 times more on weapons than on aid to developing countries. OECD, 2008 (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

5,000 people die everyday because of polluted drinking water. 1 billion humans have no access to safe drinking water! UNDP, 2006 (United Nations Development Programme).

1 billion people are going hungry. FAO, 2008 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

75% of fisheries products are exhausted, depleted or are in danger of being so. UN (United Nations).

The average temperature of the last 15 years has been the highest since records began. NASA GISS data.

The ice cap has lost 40% of its thickness in 40 years. NSIDC, 2004.

There could be 200 million climate refugees by 2050. The Stern Review: The economics of climate change part II, chapter 3, page 77.

Over 50% of grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or biofuels. Worldwatch Institutue, 2007.

40% of arable land is degraded. UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme).

Every year, 13 million hectares of forest disappear. FAO, 2005.

1 mammal in 4, 1 bird in 8, 1 amphibian in 3 are threatened with extinction. Species are dying out 1,000 times faster than the natural state. IUCN, 2008 (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Confronting the Ugly ‘Green’ Truth

For a long time, our environment with its climate change issues had never gotten the degree of attention that it rightfully deserves.

This apathy especially among key leaders of governments and businesses had been mainly displaced by other concerns such as competition, economical growth, innovation and technology.

However, all that is changing and for a number of reasons. One of those reasons- the need for self-preservation on every level of societal.

Awakening to our environment

There’s an interesting French proverb- “Fish discover water last” that succinctly illustrates the kind of relationship we have with our environment.

For fish, water simply is it’s environment. It surrounds them. They are so immersed in its presence that they are unaware of its existence- until it becomes polluted or non-existent.

When that happens, the immediate consequence makes it apparent that quality water is essential for their well-being. Without it, the fish will die.

Similarly, we as humans are finally discovering our high dependency on our environment with the dramatic developments that have surrounded climate change.

Now, the world is in stark realisation that our environment is vital to our own well-being just as water is to a fish. Without our environment, we will ultimately self-destruct.

Our future by 2050

According to the United Nations (UN), our global population is projected to swell from 6.7 billion (2009) to surpass 9 billion by 2050.

That amounts to adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today who will be seeking food, water and other resources on this earth where, scientists say, who are already shaping our climate and the web of life.

For instance, China and India are presently dominating the demand for energy in Asia. China alone accounts for 40 per cent of primary energy needs and responsible for 60 per cent of carbon emissions.

At this rate, we can expect energy demands to double; using twice the energy. And with our source of energy mainly based on a fossil fuel economy, this will have a negative impact on our environment.

With our growing insatiable consumption for all of earth’s natural resources, 2050 is not very far away for us to max out our planet and destroy ourselves.

Taking environmental issues in our context

At this point, I would like to invite readers to think for a moment:

What would become of nations when there is a depleting supply of staple food such as rice or corn?

Would countries that cultivate them supply and export to their neighbours?

What happens when supplies of other neighbouring countries run dry and they see producing countries having supply?

From the likes of how oil is globally distributed, I think it is safe to say that countries with natural supplies will likely protect and hoard their resources for self-gain and to provide for their own countrymen.

Like how the many wars had erupted in the Middle East region over the supply of oil, we, therefore cannot not rule out the possible threat of wars among nations vying for natural resources in bid to survive.

Now, imagine that we have arrived at 2050 with global natural resources depleted and tagged with sky-rocketing prices due to high demand.

What would become of Singapore as a country that imports almost all of its natural resources and has none to its name?

You tell me.