Environmentalist Lester Brown has warned that the world is “one poor harvest” away from absolute chaos
In his new book “world on the edge” which is released this week, Mr Brown claims that mankind is pushing civilisation further than it should and putting far too much pressure on the planet.
“civilizational collapse is no longer a matter of whether but when,” said Brown, who is the founder of Worldwatch and the Earth Policy Institute, both of which attempt to find ways for society to live as sustainably as possible.
There is a “sense of urgency” to his latest book, which Brown hopes will push the message that things could start happening any day now, and will most likely begin with food.
“We don’t have generations or even decades — we’re one poor harvest away from chaos,” he said. “We have been talking for decades about saving the planet, but the question now is, can we save civilization?”
In the book, Brown points out the warning signs and explains exactly why he thinks that it is the unstoppable production of food that will be the cause of the chaos.
Resources are already depleted, and this could cause a global “food bubble”, which would be created by overusing land and water in order to meet demands. The evidence of this is already apparent in Africa and India, where soil erosion has caused two large dustbowls.
In Lesotho and Saudi Arabia, supplies of grain are already running low and are only expected to be lessened further as populations continue to grow.
Global warming is also having an effect on the amount of grain available, as every one degree rise in Celsius above the normal temperature, means that the amount of grain available falls by 10 percent.
Brown believes that a lack of grain would be the catalyst that will cause hunger to spread worldwide and lead to the collapse of governments. “With confidence in the world grain market shattered, the global economy could start to unravel,” Brown warned.
It is not all doom and gloom however, as Brown believes that this future can still be averted, as long as the problems as global warming, soil erosion and falling water tables are dealt with properly.
“World on the Edge” can be downloaded free-of-charge at www.earth-policy.org/books/wote.