Emerging social problems
I’ve said before that I think the future is looking pretty dark – water and food scarcity particularly will lead to a breakdown in societal structures; deadly diseases will erupt due to global warming; and messing around with DNA and stem-cells could lead to non-human entities that could make decisions for us. Check out the Future Predictions and Future Trends categories of this blog if you’re interested in the darkness and gloom!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve started to notice news items. They are not front page stories; they’re quietly reported on and they’re not connected but…..I think they are pointing to the beginnings of social struggles and the sorts of emerging issues we will have to deal with in the future. This is why I will be buying a property in a country not so doomed as Australia (when it comes to water supplies and global warming) and where there might be safety from the hordes of refugees predicted to flood Europe (and Australia) when sea levels rise.
So today I bring you two stories that attracted my attention as examples of what might happen as times get tougher. The first story concerns the return of poaching in the UK. A black market in food has emerged with rabbits, salmon and deer all falling prey to armed gangs. Note: not individual poachers but armed gangs of people finding it difficult to live in Britian’s cities. Rampaging through the tranquil English countryside, these gangs are armed with crossbows, guns and traps and contributing to a dramatic rise in poaching. Because of higher food prices amid Recession fears, these poachers are apparently a violent lot – intimidating residents and causing damage to property. Could this be an example of the flash mobs predicted by the UK Ministry of Defense?
I’ve come across a new term (well, for me anyway) – lamping – which refers to poachers transfixing poor animals in the bright glare of lights so the poachers’ quarry is easy to kill. Even drive-by poaching is being witnessed – people hanging out of moving cars to pick off game.
The monetary value of all this poaching is quite staggering. Recently, a survey team visited a river in a remote part of Scotland only to discover that poachers had made off with mussels to the tune of £20,000 (and mussels are protected by UK law). You have to prize a mussel off the river bed, so this was purposeful, targetted poaching. One poor person chased poachers off a farm, driving at speeds of up to 80kmh until his vehicle was rammed by the poachers making their get-away.
Police recently stopped a van in Wales and found four men, dressed in camouflage, accompanied by three lurcher dogs and freshly caught rabbits and hares. Lurcher dogs are crossbred dogs trained to hunt silently and are used by poachers.
The second story I noted brought attention to another “trend” I think we’ll be seeing more of. As the world settles into a possible deep Recession, senior citizens might become desperate people. Retirees who have been hit hard by the credit crunch and who are too old to return to the workforce, might just be forced to take drastic action. Already, there are reports of the elderly cutting back on prescription medicines leaving them at risk. But more alarming is a story from Japan. After 20 years of falling wages, a sluggish economy and rising health costs, Japan’s retirees are doing it tough.
Authorities have noted a rise in shoplifting and petty crime, not from Japanese youth but from senior citizens. The Ministry of Justice is reporting that criminal offences by people 65 years or older has doubled to 48,605 in the five years to 2008, the most since police began compiling national statistics in 1978.
Now that Japan is grappling with recession, authorities are bracing for an increase in elderly crime. In 2007, the over-60s accounted for 18.9% of all crimes, compared with 3.1% in 1978. And 80% of the crime is shoplifting.
With Baby Boomers set to shuffle off into retirement, 13% of the world’s population in 2030 will be Boomers and putting a pretty heavy strain on health systems. So the Japan Government’s plans to cut 220 billion yen ($US2.3 billion) from social welfare spending in each of the five years starting 2006 and up to 2010 is probably not too smart. There is even a suggestion that some Japanese men, who have lost their wives, are committing crimes so they can be thrown into jail and enjoy three meals a day!
Have you noticed any emerging social problems? If so, tell me.
Image credit: The Independent