Monday 26 November 2018

Who are the 11% who will survive the forthcoming holocaust

Film director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), posted a very thought prooing post this morning.

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The future?
This was in response to a discussion as to the ability of planet Earth to support more than a billion human beings. It really got me thinking. Who are the 1% and who are the other 10% they'd have to rely on to keep them in the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed?

If the population of Planet Earth is seven billion, I suppose we can assume that the 1% is the seventy million richest/most powerful/most influential people. My assumption would be that these would be largely, but not exclusively based in first world countries. I think we can take it as a given that politicians, army generals, billionaires, police chiefs, heads of multi national corporations would be in the 1%. It is also likely that superstar celebrities and other high profile people will make the cut. But how much do you have to be worth. I did a little bid of research. In America this table gives you some idea of how much money you have to have to be in the 1%

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Globally, the figure is much lower, as America is the worlds wealthiest economy.  I'd hazard a guess that you'd need £4-5 million of assets to make the cut in the UK. I do wonder if bloggers profile would add a few points to our "social worth" although I suspect we are more likely to be first up against the wall (well ones like me).

The more interesting debate would be who are the 10% who the  1% need so they see no changes to their lifestyle. The first things that would be required are uninterrupted food and power supplies. One has to assume that the mega rich still want to eat strawberries in December, the finest smoked salmon and Beluga cavier, so you are probably safer if you work in these sort of industries. If you work in the Beans factory, I suspect that you may have to start looking over your shoulder. Electrical engineers working in the power industry clearly would be OK. The 1% also need medical services, drugs and care. So if you work in a private health clinic or pharmacutical industry, you may be ok. All of these areas are vital. But what about the non vital areas. One assumes 1% want to watch football, have their hair curled, their toilet cleaned and their nails manicured. I've no idea how the 1% will ensure a constant flow of Messi's and Ronaldo's if we don't have the street football of the Brazilian Cities etc. I don't think that watching a bunch of Etonians kicking a ball around the Etihad would be quite the same as watching David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne. Given the number of Billionaires who buy clubs, this particular issue can't be discounted.

Then there are the luxury cars, helicopters, private jets. All of these are necessary to enjoy nice visits to your private island. I really am not sure how these could be maintained on a world population a seventh the size. This would be a big challenge. Back in the 1970's, the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy came up with the concept of  "B Arkers". These were all the people who added nothing. Hairdressers and Estate agents were identified, however if you are mega rich, both are quite handy. Then there are banks. Much as many of us dislike banks, the 1% find them very useful.

I short, I really can't see how you could decimate the earths population without destroying the very wealth that the 1% need.

The other issue is how you actually decide who in the 89% you murder and how you do it. The big problem you have is that if the 89% get the idea they are in for the chop, you may find the 1% disappears in very short order. The policemen and soldiers who you need to carry out the extermination would be very unlikely to be complicit once they realise that mum's, dads, brothers and sisters will be in the firing line. I would suspect that the easy way would be to let a virus loose and simply innoculate all the people you want to save. The problem with that is that viruses mutate and innoculations sometimes have side effects. It would also require a huge amount of secrecy, which seems unlikely as people will seek to help mates out etc. It is also a hell of a lot of people to bury (or dispose of). Once people start dying in droves, society is likely to break down. In such scenarios, the rich become targets.

Of course the mega rich could adjourn to private Islands, but as Richard Branson learned, such places can suddenly become less than idyllic if a hurricane turns up. If the food supplies stop, the diesel runs out and the toilets break, all of a sudden you are not really having a good time any more.

In short, I can't really see how such a holcaust could be enacted. It wouldn't surprise me if there are evil people who fancy the idea, but have they thought through all of the consequences? What is a completely different question is whether or not a structured program of population reduction is desirable and even feasable. The first issue is that if you cut the number of births, you end up with the problem of an ageing population. The elderly tend to be the most wealthy, so are unlikley to submit willingly to a cull. With ever improving advances in medical care, that is a circle that is going to be very difficult to square.

What we really need is a far more sustainable economic model. We need carbon free fuels, massive tree planting schemes, a huge shift towards a more eco friendly diet (less meat and less pesticides). We need better public transport, more walking, better insulated buildings, better public spaces.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that the 1% has the wealth to invest and make all these things happen. Green technologies are the way of the future. As I see it, there is a huge missed opportunity, which the richest people, who have the dosh to invest really should be filling. Some, such as Elon Musk, have seen this, but woefully few.

I was thinking of whether I'd really want to be in the 11%. I quite like the 89% myself. That is the demographic most of my friends occupy. I don't know about the rest of you, but if I get wind of an evil plan, I won't go quietly. The one solace I take is that Duncan is the director of fairly Apocalyptic films. He probably has more reason to think about such scenarios than the rest of us.

1 comment:

One of the 89% said...


I quite enjoyed this piece on a blustery November morn. I'd probably be the first to be wiped out by secretly released virus, having the constitution of a butterfly. Consolation that I wouldn't have to serve caviar and clean toilets forever if I had survived.