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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stock Markets Will Lead to the Extinction of Humans

by Devinder Sharma

Ground Reality (June 22 2010)

An Australian scientist who helped in eradicating smallpox has sounded a death warning. Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has claimed that human race will be unable to survive population explosion and unbridled consumption. "Humans will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years, Fenner is quoted as saying. "A lot of other animals will, too."

Fenner's chilling prediction should not be taken as yet another sensational news. I think any sensible leader, and I am not talking of only political leadership, should be able to get the message straight and loud. If you remember, Mahatma Gandhi had said that the Earth has enough for man's need, but not greed. Prince Charles had more recently warned of 'monumental problems' if the world's population continues to rise at such a rapid pace. Probably what the Prince did not mention was the greed of the growing population through increased consumption will create the grave crisis.

Unbridled consumption is the foundations for the 'growth economics' that has become the Bible of the modern neoliberal economics. In reality, growth economics is nothing but violent economics. It unleashes violence against natural resources, against the climate, against the nature, and also against fellow human beings. It shifts natural, physical as well as financial resources from the hands of the poor into the pockets of the rich and elite. We have been often told that twenty per cent of the world's population of haves controls and uses the resources of the eighty per cent of the have not. Globalisation further strengthens that monopoly control.

In fact, globalisation has simply brought together all the haves from each country. In simple terms, each country has a North and a South, the North depicting the percentage of the bold and beautiful population. Globalisation has brought the North together. They have joined hands to usurp the world's resources, to snatch whatever lies in the hands of the South. Globalisation has actually brought the rich and the crooked together.

Blame it on the burgeoning population, but it is the twenty per cent elite that is destroying the world's resources. In the quest for more wealth they have succeeded in very cleverly changing the rules of the game. They began by first co-opting the economists, and then spread their wings to include the media. The economists laid out the ground rules. They began by designing GDP as an indicator of growth. They crafted it so deftly that we accepted an indicator of personal wealth to be a pointer to national development. They made everything, including global climate, look like a commodity to be sold and exploited.

I am reminded of what the milkman of India, Dr Verghese Kurian, had once said. One species that should disappear from the face of the Earth, and the Earth will be a wonderful place to live in, are the economists.

I am in complete agreement.

After the world became convinced about the virtues of GDP, the mainline economists and the consultancy firms worked out the stock market. I think there is no other innovation (if you don't like to use the word invention) in recent times that has not only influenced but hastened the process of unbridled consumption than the emergence of the Wall Street. In fact, the consultancy firms may refuse to accept it now, and for obvious reasons, but Stock Market will lead the world towards the extinction of human race that Fenner has warned us.

I am amazed at the way the Stock Markets work. These markets have commodified everything. Much of the world's environmental ills are a direct fallout of the Stock Market. Stock Markets will squeeze every drop of water (or other natural resources) out of the planet. There is a price for everything, including the air you breathe. In the days to come you will see Wall Street beginning to trade in synthetic life. Craig Ventor is already pitching for it. I will not be surprised if the human genes too are traded sooner than I expect.

Stock market is certainly not sustainable. The economic meltdown (economists refused to call it economic collapse) that the world witnessed in 2008 and 2009 was the outcome of a systemic failure in the Stock Markets. But the lure of money was so strong, that even the mightiest of the governments refused to let the faulty system go. In a globalised world, the economic bailout package became a necessary evil. As someone said, it amounted to privatising the profits, and socialising the costs. Everyone willingly participated. With the media being a beneficiary of this corrupt system, no dissenting voice could be heard.

If the tax-payers had refused to bailout the collapse of the markets, the world would have taken the first step towards making a correction for the better of the humanity. It didn't happen.

Such an unbridled consumption will be the beginning of the end of the world. In fact, the process is already on. Only the economists refuse to see it, and since the economists have been paid to be quiet, the media too refuses to spot the evil. Stock Markets have already caught the fancy of the media, and they are projecting it as an indicator of economic growth. And as I said earlier, growth economics is nothing but violent economics. While the economic benefits would be reaped by the rich and the crooked, you and me will have to live with the violence it unleashes. I am not sure how many of us will survive this violence.

Fenner is therefore right when he says that humans will probably become extinct within 100 years. Humans will certainly disappear from the face of the Earth, I don't doubt it. But by the time the Stock Markets succeed in plundering the Earth's resources making it absolutely inhospitable for the man to survive, the rich and the elite would have escaped to the moon.

Technological developments will by then make it possible for the humans to survive on the moon.


Devinder Sharma is an Indian journalist, writer, thinker. He is well-known and respected for his views on food and trade policy. Trained as an agricultural scientist, Sharma has been the Development Editor of the Indian Express, the largest selling English language daily in India at that time. He quit active journalism to research on policy issues concerning sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and intellectual property rights, environment and development, food security and poverty, biotechnology and hunger, and the implications of the free trade paradigm for developing countries. For more, see

Bill Totten


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