News Ian O'Doherty

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Bring out your dead – in tasty, bite-sized bits

Published 26/05/2014 | 02:30

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Moved and horrified: Viggo Mortensen in The Road

And there was you thinking that we were all going to die as a result of climate change. Listen to some of the loudest Chicken Lickens and you'd be forgiven for thinking that if we don't buy some of those stupid light bulbs and promise to only use our car in dire emergencies (such as when the new light bulbs burn out), then we shall soon be up our gills, splashing around Grafton Street in melted glacier water.

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But it looks like won't have to worry about it now that another, even more terrifying prospect is on the horizon.

Controversial American scientist Paul Ehrlich, who caused ructions more than four decades ago with his now debunked tome, The Population Bomb, has come up with a grisly, grim future for all of us – cannibalism.

According to his new book, Hope On Earth, resources are now becoming so stretched in an overpopulated world that we will face 'resource wars', which is something that has already been happening for decades. After all, water, not oil, will be the most fought-over natural resource in decades to come.

That's hardly an outrageous suggestion – access to water and proper irrigation has caused more than one conflict in the past. But to go from warning about the dangers of overpopulation to predicting society will become some weird and freaky mash-up of Soylent Green and The Road still seems like a rather steroid-fuelled leap of the imagination. He thinks that no water plus no crops will lead to cannibalism.

Presumably operating under the principle that even the stopped clock gets it right occasionally, this is a reprise of The Population Bomb, which caused consternation when it was first published 46 years ago and which warned of impending 'oblivion' for humanity and said that: "Hundreds of millions will die."

Things didn't quite work out that way – although there are plenty of Africans who might have a valid argument in support of his claims. But it looks like Ehrlich is expressing his inner Cormac McCarthy when he warns that: "We will soon be asking if it's okay to eat the bodies of our dead because we are so hungry."

And, I think you'll agree, the only rational response to that dire warning is a terrified 'yikes.'

But, as they like to say on those infomercials you see on the telly at three in the morning, wait, there's more.

Because, according to Ehrlich, this isn't some mad prediction of events that will happen in the distant future: "We are moving in that direction with ridiculous speed."

That would undoubtedly add a certain frisson to the average mystery-meat hot dog or burger you consume on your way home from the pub – after all, nothing is guaranteed to ruin a perfectly good night out more than tucking into a kebab that tastes suspiciously like Nana.

Having said that, it would certainly introduce a whole new litany of excuses to anyone who fancies a day off work. After all, if you ring in to the office and tell your boss that you're feeling rotten because you've eaten a Mongolian grilled and you think you might have a touch of Kuru, I'm sure they'd be happy to give you the time off to go to the doctor.

Of course, everybody knows that the planet is overpopulated and you don't need to be a modern Malthusian to see that the cracks in global infrastructure are starting to show in suitably dystopian relief.

There are two potential solutions here – stop prolonging the lives and improving the reproductive habits of people in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and let nature take its course. And that ain't gonna happen.

Or improve the industrialisation and mechanisation of farming across the planet, which would mean vast urban conurbations surrounded by giant factory farms.

This would massively increase both food and pollution. So, hippies – what's it going to be?

Although I must admit, that having been both moved and horrified by The Road, I can't see myself eating a dead baby anytime soon.

SURE YOU MEANT THAT, JUDGE?

One of the great cons of the legal profession has been to employ language and terminology that drive people to distraction. Lawyers, of course, say that this is because any matter pertaining to the law must be so precise that there can be no room for misunderstanding. Well, that's what I think that's what they say. I tuned out after a while.

Either way, precision in the language is crucial, but maybe there is an Irish beak with a sense of humour.

A judge at the Carrick on Suir District Court recently ordered one miscreant: "To script a fulsome letter of contrition" to a cop he had abused.

Hmmm.

One dictionary definition of the word 'fulsome': "Offensive to good taste, especially as being excessive; overdone or gross."

Of course, this column is a complete fascist when it comes to people misusing words – which is why I must publicly declare that this judge has quite literally shot himself in the foot with these comments.

I knew it! I knew it!

My objections to Conchita winning the Eurovision were practical, logical and rational – the Dutch entry was better. Although I must admit that I was a bit taken aback by the number of readers who had never heard of Cock Robin, the American outfit who sounded a bit like Holland's entry.

But my objections are in the ha'penny place when compared to some senior Bosnian clerics who have just blamed the recent bad weather and landslides and deaths on the Austrian's victory.

In fact, one of them even said that "God sent the rains as a reminder that people should not join the wild side".

Well, I'm not a big man for Divine Retribution meself, but I would imagine that if anything in the Balkans' recent history was going to piss God off, a frock with a beard might be the least of it.

Or maybe God is a Cock Robin fan as well, I don't know.

He unfriended me on Facebook.

Irish Independent

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