This week I am indulging myself slightly by reflecting on a book before contemplating an eventual doomsday scenario; The book in question is ‘Post-modernism, a guide to our future’ by Paul Mason, I am paying particular attention to a chapter titled ‘The rational case for panic’.
Paul Mason is a British born journalist who amongst other positions, operated as Cultural editor of Channel 4 news. He became Economics editor in 2014 and has remained in this position since, thus making him particularly qualified to collate facts and make several observations, not only about the current state of global economy, but its potential future and also inevitable downfall.
Amongst the extensive list of global challenges Mason touches upon, there was a subject I particularly related to, he labels this issue ‘a demographic timebomb’. During the years I have been working in the industry whether in Norfolk or London, I have encountered this issue in an attempt to counteracting a shortage of housing and healthcare for a growing older population.
On a Global scale, population is multiplying at a completely unfeasible rate. During the Industrial revolution, the average life expectancy was 35 years old due to the poor working conditions, in the late twentieth century this rose to 50 years owing to an improvement in the workplace. Now however the number is rising to people living into their mid eighties, the main causes of death becoming disease and war.
By the year 2050 the UNs projections suggest that global population will rise from 7billion to over 9.6billion, the majority of this rise is set to take place in the ‘developing world’, in fact mostly limited to a relatively small area of South Africa. This phenomenon is irreversible, unlike historically where the birth rate was at a high, the issue is now with the older generation. In fact the current ratio of Four working people to each retiree is set to adjust to a ratio of One to One by the year 2050. This is unsustainable in terms of our economy, but also from an industrial scale such as the use of fossil fuels on our diminishing climate and resources.
Whilst Mason’s hard facts are indeed chilling, I fear we may be heading for a potentially bigger disaster than he quantifies, due partly to our advances in technology and medical knowledge. Just two weeks ago now, an example of this was headlined in world news.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook pledged over $3billion to aid with eradication of all disease by the end of this century. Whilst I initially saw this as a selfless act on his part and like many others asked the question ‘can it be done?’, all the while hoping the answer was yes; on reflection of Pauls Masons text, I find myself suddenly considering the impact of such a Utopian idea.
We do not yet have an answer to the current questions Mason proposes in his book, eradication of disease as Zuckerberg proposes, even before UN forecasting, we can predict the population will significantly rise, with a rise in post-working age dependants, requiring financial and social care for a longer period of time.
We must conclude then surely that this generation, contrary to popular belief, is indeed planning and building their own future and not that of their children. This problem exists now, and at our current rate of knowledge advancement, whether Zuckerberg invests or not, our planet could be depleting at a rate that causes disaster during this generations lifetime. It is as a result of this, that the responsibility lies on both their head and ours to invent, innovate and secure a future for the economy, programme and system that we currently operate on.
If I needed some career motivation, prior to embarking on my Masters course, I think I just found it!