Sakyo Komatsu, a Japanese writer who recently died, wrote a short story titled “Gogo no burijji (Playing bridge in the afternoon)” about a global food crisis.
The story is set in a future world where most species of animals have become extinct as an exploding global population has led to explosive growth in meat consumption. As a result, people around the world have to live mostly on artificial foods.
The real world’s population recently hit 7 billion. Five decades ago, the number of people living on this planet was slightly over 3 billion. It more than doubled in just a half century.
Warnings about a food crisis due to the population explosion have been issued many times. But humankind has so far managed to prevent a global food crisis through species improvement and output expansion.
While obesity is spreading in industrial nations where food is abundantly available, eastern parts of Africa are suffering from famine.
Criticism of the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of people is gaining traction in the United States and Europe, but there are even greater income disparities between rich nations and poor ones.
The natural environment around us is deteriorating rapidly. Global emissions of carbon dioxide, which push up the Earth’s temperature with potentially dire consequences, keep growing, while the total number of species, excluding human beings, is decreasing fast.
The pace of global population growth is slowing. Still, nearly 80 million are added to the global community every year.
This precious planet is crowded with 7 billion people. We all have the obligation to make this world a better place to live for new members of the human community who will arrive in the coming years.
The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo (Nov. 10)