In fact, according to mainstream scientists, the planet has made such an elliptical journey no less than 4.5 billion times! But on a human scale, the New Year is so much more significant, a symbolic point to end the old year, start the new year, and yet another opportunity for us to renew our futures. Indeed, for us homo sapiens, so much can happen in a single year. Following is a list of predictions and projections for the coming year:
No doubt, this year, like every year, will see many more important and not-so-important people bite the dust... croak... perish... succumb... yes many humans will leave us behind. But on the bright side, the dead will certainly be outnumbered by newborns, which may even include a few future leaders, pioneers, philosophers and prophets alike (but hopefully not so many politicians, lawyers and insurance salespeople!) Actually, a lot more people will be born than die this year, as is the trend with overpopulation, and, according to the UN’s Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, we can expect the global population to increase by another 79 million people this year, up to 7.4 billion! 79 million – that’s about the size of Germany, Iran or Turkey.
With the expanding population, demand for more resources will also continue to increase, especially for food. Thanks in part to globalisation and technology, over the past decade or so, annual production of food has been slightly higher than demand, the excess added to stockpiles for future reserves. However, in 2016, it looks like demand for various key food staples will be meeting if not exceeding production. According to a projection by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the world this year will produce about 2,527 million tonnes (MT) of cereal, but will consume 1MT more than that; we will produce 1,301MT of course grains (corn, sorghum, barley, oats, soybean), but consume 500,000 tonnes more than that; and we will produce about 491.3MT of rice but consume 8MT more than that.
In fact, of the main grains, wheat is the only one that the FAO expects us to produce more than what we will consume, whereas we’re projected to produce 734.5MT, consuming 6MT less than that. And though we can continue to live off of our stockpiles for some years, and the advent of biotechnology is theoretically supposed to increase yields (various studies on chemical fertilisers and GMOs beg to differ!), though at this point, it’s safe to say that food security doesn’t look so certain in the coming years, at least for those depending strictly on world trends and markets.
Politicians, the media and even The Pope, have bombarded us with perhaps the biggest and most misleading buzz term of the century – “Global Warming”. But if you haven’t upgraded your social terminology set yet, please do so now, for the universally and scientifically accepted term to describe the current climatic transitions and phenomena taking place on our planet is “Climate Change”. Yes, it is true that “record high” temperatures have been recorded in certain parts of the world lately.
But, at the same time there are also certain places on this planet experiencing the extreme opposite, “record lows” including bizarre snow and hail storms. Hence, in 2016, expect much more debate – scientific and not-so-scientific – about whether we should react to global warming or a mini ice-age that is projected to be brought on by what scientists call a “Grand Solar Minimum”, a 15-20 year period which happens every so many hundred years as the sun’s productivity drops. Either way, warming or freezing, combined with population and food trends, it doesn’t bode well for those who aren’t informed and prepared!
To end on a somewhat positive note, with all the added people, food and weather issues, there is a huge void of, and thus need for more of the universe’s most potent element. That’s right, love, that which we can certainly use a lot more of. To make 2016 a better year, we all have the potential and ability. Go on, don’t waste another minute! Plant a tree, feed a pauper, and give a big, warm hug to someone who really needs it, for certainly there are many.
Happy New Year!