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  • Chris Wylie

When is Enough not Enough?

Scarcity. The word describes a situation where there is not enough of a resource that many people need to survive. And while I live in the United States, a true land of plenty, I still see the problems of scarcity around me. I see it in the streets of San Diego where homeless people have a scarcity of food. I see it in other countries like South Africa, where they cannot provide water to the people who live there. And I see it in the world, where we are already fighting over petroleum. The planet earth has so much to give us. So why is scarcity everywhere?

I don’t know the answer to that last question, but I have some ideas. The primary idea is overpopulation. If we have 8 slices of pizza and 6 hungry people, there is no problem. But what happens when we have 10 people? 12 people? When I was born there were 3.5 billion people on the planet. In 2018 there are 7.6 billion people, and it doesn’t look like we are going to stop making babies.

Another cause of scarcity is distribution. How do we get needed resources to the people who need them? In the 1980s, Ethiopia suffered a famine due to severe drought. The world came together and sent food to the desperate country. And much of that food sat on boats on the docks. No one had a way of getting the food to the starving people. Much of the food rotted where it was.

Finally, there is no getting around the sad truth that some scarcity is caused by greed. There are people in this world who horde resources for themselves while others have to go without the things they need. I often feel guilty as I walk down the street carrying my lunch and I see someone who may not have eaten anything for a couple of days, so I wonder sometimes if I am part of the greed problem.

And scarcity is a problem. I worry about a world where we fight over food or space or water. I worry sometimes that my children or grandchildren will have to suffer from shortages of medicine or housing. I am often concerned about the fate of human civilization and what we will do when we have sucked our planet dry. I don’t think it is too late to solve the problem of scarcity. But I do think we have to start fixing the problem now.

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