Scarier Than A Ghoul Is
Another Mouth To Feed
A truly frightening thing will happen during Halloween this year: The United Nations says that the earth will welcome its seven billionth soul.
Even if the date is as fictitious as any zombie you may come across between now and next Monday, the weight of its numerical value is real and spine tingling.
Even if there will be no camera documenting the historical birth, and in fact, it may have already happened, this mathematical projection is as accurate as most hurricanes can now be predicted.
In the same token, it may be easier to find a ghost and take it to Fox News to be interviewed on October 31th, than to catch the precise moment when the balance may be broken and we simply are too many people for too few resources to support us.
THE CAVALCADE OF MISERY
History moves by leaps and so can we. Back in the 12th century, there were less than 400 million of us. We reached our first billion in the first decade of the 1800s. Five generations later, we’ve doubled that.
But when we’ve added another billion between the 1920s and the 1960s, the race was on. According to U.N. estimates, we’ve been adding roughly a billion people every decade or so.
Worse: even though the world produces food and consumer goods faster now than at any time in history, most resources are under the control of far fewer people than ever.
The irony about using billion as a measure stick is that it can serve to count people and money, with utterly divergent results.
While there are more super-billionaires than there’s ever been, they’ll remain an insignificant percentage of the close to 10 billion people that are expected to be alive less than four decades from now.
A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
There are already roughly a billion people close to starvation living today, according to the World Hunger organization. Trapped in extreme poverty, this growing army of dispossessed is unlikely to be around and counted when the next billion is added.
But unless we’re expecting a gang of zombies to suddenly break our door, ready to feed on our flesh, we’d better stop droning on and on about it.
Despite such a cruel analogy, the idea is not to preach to the converted, for everything stated above is common knowledge, but to soak in colors of the real kind this feast of fake blood that’s right around the corner.
Risking reading too much into it, there may be a connection between so much prefab ‘horror’ and the real bone-chilling fright, lurking underneath, that we may be destined to join hordes of the famished and of the destitute.
As the Atomic Age bred the paranoia of the Cold War and multiple fictional monsters and superheros, maybe the present popularity of phony ghouls and gory is a way of coping with the fear of a rupture of a minimally balanced social contract and a catastrophic collapse of the planet’s resources.
HANGING BY A THREAD
In these context, this year’s destruction and chaos following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, for example, could serve as a preview of sorts of an earth out of balance.
For a few weeks, the world’s second-largest economy seemed on the verge of regressing to the stage of development it was a century ago.
If such a natural disaster can affect so severely one of the most resilient and technologically advanced societies of the globe, what hope can Africa, Asia and large parts of South America have facing similar conditions?
Except that many of these places are already living in such chaotic environment.
So either we find this seven billionth baby and his or her huge family right away, or we may as well invite a group of the undead to finish us all off.