Of course you’re not – how could you be? The end of the world is the end of humankind. There’s little we can do to prepare for it; to save ourselves from inevitable extinction.
But of course, the world isn’t going to end anytime soon. Or is it? Frank Fenner, the late Australian scientist best known for eradicating smallpox; one of the most destructive viruses the world has ever known, thought so.
In an interview in June of 2010 with ‘The Australian’ newspaper, Frank affirmed his belief that the human race would die out within the next hundred years.
At first it seems inconceivable: many have predicted the end of humankind or the world at large before, yet we still walk, talk and dominate this planet. But few could boast such scientific backing as Frank Fenner. Yes, the scary thing is, rather than supercilious speculation or messages from the Gods, Frank had real reason to believe humankind could cease to exist in only a few generations.
Frank’s assertions are advocated by an instance of human extinction that has already transpired. ‘Easter Island’ is an isolated island in the South Pacific. Many years ago the island became inhabited and over time, its population grew to unmanageable proportions. As a result, the nutritional density of the land’s topsoil suffered until the ground became barren. As there was no way to harvest food, the previously flourishing civilisation died out.
It is precisely this that Frank Fenner believes is due to happen on a worldwide scale.
Just as on Easter Island, the world’s population is growing at an unsustainable rate. The aggressive methods of farming that are in many cases a necessity if we are to feed this increasing population mean that our Earth’s topsoil is being leached of nutrients. Over time our soil is becoming less and less fertile until eventually, we will be unable to grow anything in it at all.
As our crops die out, so will our meat supplies. It will most likely be the less developed nations that will perish first since their stores of food are limited. The developed world may last longer but day-to-day life will turn into a vicious fight for survival. Many of us could be killed at the hands of a hungry neighbour before starvation or illness takes us.
Is there anything we can do?
If we act fast – yes. But, Frank may also be right in another of his beliefs: that it would be too late by the time the world woke up to what was happening.
Unlike global warming, the potential for a food crisis is rarely spoken about. It doesn’t top the news and it isn’t an issue our politicians like to discuss. It’s for these reasons that much of the general public have little, if any idea, what we face.
Halting the end of the world means controlling the population growth. It needs to be stopped in its tracks, but this won’t be easy. Access to contraception is limited in large regions of the world, whilst the ‘right’ to have as many offspring as one wants is something many attest to. Convincing people to stop at one or two children, or providing them with the means to ensure they can, will not be easy.
Only once the growth of the world’s population has stabilised can we really worry about replenishing our topsoil. Doing so means letting fertile land rest between harvests so that the topsoil can replenish itself and its nutrients. It also means reducing the use of chemicals on our land. Chemicals that not only affect our health but leach the topsoil of its nutrients, rendering it infertile much sooner than natural farming will.
This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Garden Topsoil Direct; suppliers of organic topsoil.
Amy is concerned about the future of the world and the generations that will supersede her.