The BIG Issues…in troubled times
With major public health and global health issues on the agenda, we need more unity and collaboration, not isolation and division.
It is absolutely not my intention to use the this blog to discuss politics or share or promote my own personal political opinions in any way. However, in the current political environment, with Brexit negotiations now in full swing, and the question of Scottish independence again coming in and out of the news, I find the political climate in Europe deeply saddens me.
And worldwide, with tensions between the US and North Korea, and terrible troubles in Yemen, Syria and Myanmar, among other places, I am struck with an overall sense of sadness, that such issues of isolation, nationalism and political and religious division seem to be dominating national and international politics, at a time when I believe what we need more than ever is more national unity and international collaboration, to address the really big issues that affect us and our children and grandchildren.
I believe our world needs more tolerance, understanding and unity, not less.
As I see it, we face some really big, deadly serious problems, in our lifetimes.
1) There are only 60 to 100 years of arable soil left on Earth. Just exactly what does anyone think we are going to eat when there is no soil left to grow any plants? I see vegans promoting the movie Cowspiracy saying we should all eat more plants and less animals. Yet as I see it, properly farmed animals eat grass and help built soil fertility and depth, where growing more plants for food means more ploughing and further soil erosion.
2) Climate change is real and it’s happening. We need to radically, massively tackle this issue now. I genuinely believe that every tax paying citizen in the developed world should be putting their hand in their pocket right now, probably to the tune of around a 5% tax rise for all of us, to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels and stop all further greenhouse gas emissions and start wide scale implementation of renewable energy production and carbon sequestration techniques.
But they won’t. And no politician will suggest it, as that would be wildly unpopular and political suicide.
And our children and grandchildren are going to pay a price you cannot imagine. I (sadly) genuinely imagine wars will be fought world-wide over dwindling resources…which resources? Clean water, fertile productive land, clean air.
3) In 30 years, as we all hit retirement age and our children are where we are now, more than half the adult population of Europe will be obese. The cost of cancer drugs and diabetes will drive the NHS into privatisation. Our present government here in the UK seems far more interested in renewing our Trident nuclear weapons than in actually keeping our world-leading public health service afloat.
The UK economy (and many other countries) is seeing annual GDP growth nullified by the staggering increase in public health costs. The Director General of the WHO stated this in one of her keynote speeches in 2013 - that developed nations face a stagnating economic future (yes, the very engine of capitalism stalling) as the rising costs of cancer, heart disease, employee sick leave, lost productivity, drug costs, hospital running costs, type-2 diabetes, dementia and autoimmune diseases are negating GDP growth across the developed world. See her statement that “the costs of these diseases can easily cancel out the benefits of economic gain.”
Countries are failing to grow economically…but at least the drug companies are getting rich! Yay Pfizer! Yay statins!
4) Childhood obesity and rising mental health concerns are growing at an alarming rate. In the UK now a frightening 20% of Year 6 children are obese, and a further 15% are overweight.
5) Species diversity on Earth is declining faster than at any time since the K-T Event 65 million years ago, the event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Species diversity isn’t all about the Sumatran tiger and orangutans which are facing extinction because of our demand for cheap palm oil in processed foods - species diversity is the loss of plants, herbs, bacteria, the biological backbone of life that makes our digestive system work, helps keep diseases at bay, helps our food to grow in the soil, helps keep our oceans alive so the fish have food to eat and oxygenated water to live in. These microscopic lifeforms help clean our air, they live in us, on us and all around us…and when they are all gone, the impact on our ability to grow food, digest food, function, resist disease and reproduce will be frightening.
Population will rise to 10 point something billion in the next 30 years - it is inevitable. It’s not “all those breeding Africans and Indians” that so many short-sighted and ill-informed people seem to think; this already-destined growth is simply everyone on Earth currently under the age of 30 producing 1 child each…added to the burden of us lot who are already over-40 all living longer. Population will rise, and peak between 10 and 11 billion, in the next 35 years. We have to curb consumption and, particularly, energy use from fossil fuels, to sustain another three billion people. We also have to make food production and distribution more efficient.
Worldwide, the human race faces these staggering problems.
Our oceans are diminished, our agricultural soil vanishing fast.
We need to learn to stop eating and smoking and drinking ourselves into ill health, we need to save public health services by taking some personal responsibility for our health, and we need to stop consuming and burning fossil fuels.
If we are starting to collapse in on ourselves as a society at 7.5bn people, frankly we are utterly doomed at 10.5bn. We’ll never cope.
With these issues on our agenda, these future certainties at our doorstep, I hate to see people and politics torn apart, separation, nationalism, isolation and division.
We are all one people, we need unity more now that at any time in human history. This is no time for division, this is a time for understanding, love, brotherhood. We need not just Europe working as one, the whole human race needs to collaborate in peace to tackle these big issues, or in a few hundred years there will be no human race.
I fear for my children and their children. I may actually encourage my children not to have children, as I honestly don’t know what future they might face. I’m sorry, that’s a depressing thought, I truly don’t mean to be so sombre in this newsletter!!
It’s not all bad…we, every single one of us, have the power to create and enact change. We must all do everything we can:
- Consume less ‘stuff’ - especially plastic, and cheap imported goods that have travelled thousands of miles to get to our shops, and will probably break and end up in landfill in no time at all. All too often, the carbon footprint is higher than the value of the goods
- Buy quality, not quantity
- Stop buying anything that involves single-use plastic
- Walk or ride a bicycle as often as possible, leave the car at home for short journeys or on sunny days
- Switch to buying your electricity from a renewable energy supplier, such as Ecotricity (it’s not more costly)
- Look into buying an electric or hybrid car
- Buy organic, always, and free range
- Support local farms
- Stop buying processed foods
- Put your pensions and savings into ethical investments
- Learn, get educated. None of us can bury our heads in the sand and ignore all these and hope they go away. If you are a parent, you have a duty of care to your children, you chose to bring them into this world, now you have to stop destroying that world in the interests of their future. If you are reading this, you live in the developed world, you have a computer or smartphone, you have electricity, you probably have a house and a car and clothes - please know that you (and I) are the ones responsible for these greenhouse gas emissions. It’s time to take responsibility, your house and car and all your electronic gadgets produce more greenhouse gas emissions that 100 sub-Saharan African homes combined. It’s your mess, now take responsibility and help clean it up
- Recycle everything
- Grow some veggies. Make compost. Stop sending stuff to landfill, compost it instead
- Buy only grass-fed, free-range or pasture raised meat. This is the answer to sustainable farming and food production
- Buy only organic dairy
- Buy sustainably caught fish (MSC stamped)
- Teach our children about these mistakes our generation (and several before us) have made, get them invested in a sustainable future
Too many people devote all their attention, time and energy to collecting the ‘trinkets of capitalism’…the German made car, the fancy watch, the big screen TV, nice designer clothes, the foreign holiday, endless consumer electronics…but they won’t invest in doing anything to fix the issues highlighted in this newsletter.
If we don’t change, we are in really big trouble. If we don’t change, our children and grandchildren face an extremely grim and uncertain future.
Why don’t most people care enough to do anything about this?
Please be different! Be the ones who care!
Together, we can create change, we can be a force for good.
To the future! To your good health! For all of our futures!