Muslim Countries Plan for Hot Bleak Future
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is facing a bleak near future filled with shortages of water, food and even energy.
The OIC includes 57 member states and spans four continents. It is the self-described voice of the Muslim world. After the United Nations, it is also the world’s largest intergovernmental body and represents 1.3 billion Muslims.
The OIC countries – some of the biggest of which had flourished with their vast and previously highly valued petroleum reserves – see the Muslim world as being way behind its counterparts elsewhere when it comes to science and technology development. It sees the results of its past growth, along with the impact of climate change, as having created a crisis that it is rapidly running out of time to address.
To come up with concrete plans for what to do about this crisis, the OIC’S Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) held a series of meetings to help plan joint discussions on these issues. Those meetings were held in September 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. The sessions involved government ministers from many of the OIC’S member states.
An early draft agenda of the many topics the group agreed to address later in more detail was briefly published publicly by the OIC. It has since been taken down and replaced with a less-alarming set of discussion topics.
In that early draft, the OIC cites the following as major areas of concern to its members:
Lack of water and arable land available for farming. In its materials, the OIC noted that most of its member states are running out of usable land and safe water access. With temperatures reaching record highs and freshwater resources rapidly disappearing, the need for conservation techniques, alternative farming and ways to get access to other water resources are considered extremely serious concerns right now. As the initial materials said, “… the ‘green’ revolution is essentially over and high growth rates in agriculture will not be sustained through current technology, practice and attitudes alone.”
Rate of energy consumption too high. With the region accustomed to a glut of energy, practices that were wasteful and with little thought to the future have built up over time. (The same, of course, is true with respect to land and water use.) The global energy demand is expected to double by 2040, with 90% of that demand
coming from emerging economies with a powerful middle class.
Reality and impact of climate change and global warming far worse than previously understood. In the original version of the text for the discussion document, the planners noted: “Climate change and global warming is anthropogenic and may have been underestimated. We have only one planet as our habitat for the foreseeable future, and it is facing a crisis of unimaginable proportions.”
Options for Solutions
While the OIC’S planners can be commended for their frankness in bringing these issues to the table, the solutions that are being considered for them are weak, were poorly thought through and avoid the critical issue of overpopulation.
On the energy supply issue, despite the current wealth available for investment among the entire OIC community, the planners downplay the value of renewable resources such as solar and wind as being unable to offer the baseload supply. This keeps their plans to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy with fossil fuels as the dominant source of power for some time. As for how to support the future, the documents claimed that many of the OIC countries are “planning to start constructing nuclear power plants.”those plans are going forward, apparently, despite many experts having cited the “immense” potential for solar power in the Middle East. As a study published by Nassir El Bassam of the International Research Centre for Renewable Energy said in April, solar radiation in the Arab region works out to the equivalent of between one and two barrels of oil per square meter per year. It further noted, “These rates are among the best in the world, making the region suitable for solar heating and cooling, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) applications.” This is also despite solar power currently providing only 0.2% of the current total power demands of the OIC member states.
Newer storage technologies negate the baseload issue, and using a fictional baseload justification for dangerous, expensive and unsustainable nuclear power is disingenuous at best.
On the issue of land, water and food supply, the planners seem to have little to suggest in the short term as ways to improve the nations’ current state. With more power, desalination projects might be increased, but the supply of such water is not expected to increase in large enough quantities or soon enough to keep the existing lands from drying out or to prevent mass water scarcity in the near future. Plans also suggest increasing investments in domestic agriculture production, but that is almost like saying that if one needs more food, then one should invest in food production. It is a tautology and does not say much in terms of real policy. Another option suggested is to aggressively pursue minimizing food waste. That will tend to come automatically when the food supply begins to tighten dramatically. By itself, it, too, does not represent much of a solution.
In the end, the most positive conclusion one can draw from this proposed set of discussion points from the OIC is that the Muslim nations around the world are finally waking up to recognizing some major problems. However, it appears that they are incapable of addressing those problems. Without doing something drastic now, they will soon find themselves out of the energy, food, arable land and water needed to support their growth in the future.
This also points to water and food-producing land – rather than oil – becoming the focus of the next generation of never-ending wars in and adjacent to these nations. In the face of the continued ignorance of the reality of climate change, belittling of the value of renewable energy sources as an alternative to oil and rising levels of Islamic extremism around the world, it is unfortunately a real and very serious question as to whether the OIC countries are waking up to their problems way too late.
The OIC’S head-in-the-sand approach to the future is indicative of a culture that has become obsolete and self-destructive, just as many non-muslim cultures have also doomed themselves with wrong thinking.
If humanity is to survive the destruction it has engineered, more people will have to wake up, abandon their obsolete beliefs and choose leaders with the capacity to think rationally and take the necessary actions.