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15 June 2009

Will the world end by 12-12-2012?

Sometime back, when I was surfing, I happened to visit a site that talked about 12-12-2012. The world is likely to come to an end by 12-12-2012 giving a lot of evidences from ancient history to modern sciences. The evidences are not more than mere superstitions. This superstitious group is arguing about end of this planet and another group tries to give array of counter arguments that the world will not end. After reading an article from this month's Scientific American India, I feel that the world will not end by 12-12-2012 but it may take few more decades, probably 5-8 decades. Why? Read on.

When we compare the population of the world with the population that existed few decades back, it is fair to say that we are exponentially growing. We are likely to hit a spot somewhere higher and as of now it is difficult to predict where it will be. As a result of increase in population, the demand for food and infrastructure is increasing. When we want to live, we will happily kill trees and massacre forests leading to rapid deforestation. Even with the current population, as more developing nations become developed nations, their consumption will also increase which in turn increases the demand for food. So, there are two visible factors that is going to influence the high demand for food. Let us assume the following simple math.

Assume that we double our consumption and engage in rapid deforestation by converting half of the forest as living communities. How can we produce 2X food from y/2 land. There is going to be a big pressure and we will end by increasing the productivity of lands artificially through fertilizers. To our havoc, we will run out of one of the components of fertilizers soon. In order to understand the entire mess that is currently building up, I encourage you to read Scientific American India. In this article, the author gives a clear picture about depletion of phosphorous and how the world will end if phosphorous depletion is not addressed. When you do not have phosphorous, you cannot grow plants and trees.

So, without being supersititious, we have found another reason why the world will end. We are creating a big mess for the future generations and making this planet unsuitable for living.

4 comments:

Rajkumar Pandian said...

Lakshmi,
Is the Sciam author serious about the depletion of Phosphorus would cause the end of the world?. I feel that it is an exaggeration.

The world, which is a huge mass of *mystery* and complexity might not die JUST because phosphorus is depleted. May be the plants will become extinct. Human race too might get extinct. But, there is a high possibility that, today's chemistry will find out ways of extracting Phosphorus from hitherto unknown sources..

Just think in systems thinking perspective. The WHOLE will adjust itself in *unpredicted* ways to survive as it had done in the past billion years. I offer no proof for my statement.

--Raj

Lakshmi Narayanan N said...

The author has a proof for his claims :-). And it is not exaggeration but extrapolation.

I believe in system thinking that is applied proactively. I would rather argue that being able to think (system thinking) is being proactive. For example, we just consume a lot of energy because it is affordable and we don't seem to bother about its effects like global warming and its depletion. One may argue that the science invented renewable energy and other forms of energy. Our system thinking is only up to stop using paper cups. We don't really fix it until it is burning need. We fix it after causing huge damages.

The whole world will be happier (including myself) if we start using the resources little reasonably and renew them barring the depletion.

I fear that we are growing too fast and too huge.

Rajkumar Pandian said...

"Our system thinking is only up to stop using paper cups" - I strongly deny this. If this was the result of your system thinking, then what you thought doesn't come under system thinking.

--Raj

Lakshmi Narayanan N said...

We want the world to believe that we are thinkers but end up doing something substandard or quick fix. So, we generally stop and happy with small things (like using paper cups). We believe that environment friendliness stops at barring paper cups and we never understand that it starts and has to continue from there. If it happens, one can say that it is proactive, else it is reactive..