“The world will soon be at permanent war over shrinking resources – homo sapiens locked in a permanent fight for survival.” Sam Kiley
Small wonder that from Tehran to Tallahassee, large numbers of People of the Book (Muslims, Christians and Jews) believe that the End of Times is upon us.
Eschatological prophecies in these traditions are pretty similar. Broadly speaking there’s going to be a final battle between good and evil, a messiah will turn up or return, and the world (or at least the “enlightened” within it) will get first-class seats to and in heaven.
The so-called Islamic State believes the showdown will be in Dabiq, northern Syria. Christians and Jews think it’s been in Armageddon, modern day Megiddo in northern Israel. So they more or less agree on the geography.
This is all baloney of course.
Armageddon is already upon us.
Twenty years ago, the great Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey coined the term “Six Extinction” in a book of the same name. He observed that the rate of species extinction now endured by the planet was faster than any of the previous five mass extinctions. The previous calamities could be attributed to an asteroid strike or some other external paradigm shift. Today’s annihilation is attributable to one species alone – humankind.
Other scientists have lately caught up with this idea.
Climate change partly drove the “Arab Spring” uprisings after five years of drought. Equally, mass migration from Africa has its roots in unsustainable population growth and climate change. Soon, water and food shortages will be the norm across much of the world’s middle belt. Meanwhile, the oceans are being choked with plastic, suffocated and turned to acid as they rise to drown lowlands.
And yet it would appear that world leaders are getting more parochial.
Are they dim?
Phenomena like the anti-immigrant racism of Donald Trump and right-wing parties around the world, the new nationalism of the Scottish National Party and Catalans, the shrinking from the world of Brexit supporters are often said to be symptomatic of a frustration at the failures of globalisation. And disgust with leaders who failed to recognise that not everyone gains from growth.
But perhaps there is another, as yet mostly unspoken realisation creeping up the backs of humankind, that globalisation means that there will be nowhere to hide when global competition becomes a struggle over the very sources of life. When people are scared they get nasty because their futures appear brutish and short.
This may explain the circling of the wagons, the retreat from enlightenment into nation, tribe and clan. An urge to greet neighbours with pitchforks not pitchers of beer.
Perhaps that may explain, too, what appear to be Vladimir Putin’s reckless engagements in Ukraine and Syria.
He may not know it, but his adventures in Europe and the Middle East are a portent of what is to come. The world will soon be at permanent war over shrinking resources – homo sapiens locked in a permanent fight for survival.
The question is, are the British among the fittest?