Our Bright Future?
Our Bright Future?
  • Professor Dong Gon Park
  • 승인 2009.03.04 14:21
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Korea is a relatively small country, with very limited land for farming.  All the food we eat originates from soil of the land.  On calculating how much surface area of the land has to be secured for feeding ourselves, you would be surprised to find that we are living in too tiny country.  Only the reason we have not fallen into chaos from scarcity of foods is that we are largely importing them from abroad.  The quantity of crop import is especially huge for wheat and corn.  We usually consume wheat directly in the form of bread or noodle.  In the case of corn, we use most of them to feed animal to obtain meat to eat.

Korea doesn't have plenty of sources for energy.  Most of all, it doesn't have any significant reserve of oil, which is the most required energy source nowadays.  Sustaining extremely complicated social system requires large input of energy.  As Korea is getting into developed country, consumption of energy per person is rapidly increasing.  We heavily rely on import more than ever to keep the supply of the energy needed to sustain our system. 

Korea doesn't have enough water supplies.  Not many of us realize the fact that the only one water-poor nation around Asia is Korea.  All other water-poor nations are concentrated in the Middle East.  We tend to misjudge ourselves of having plenty of water, because of false impression during rainy monsoon season in summer.  Because of this misunderstanding, average water usage per person in Korea is at the top ranking in the world, and keeps increasing.

Food.  Energy.  Water.  We can not live without any of these three natural resources.  But, we only have very limited reserve of them domestically, and are heavily relying on foreign supply.  For the worse, population density in Korea is one of the highest in the world.  Namely, it is surely overpopulated. 

Archeological excavation often reveals tell-tailing remains from once prospered societies of the past.  In many cases, they surprise us by suggesting many of those prospered societies apparently met with sudden and abrupt collapse, and wiped off from the history in very short period.  Recent study on disappeared a few societies in the past starts to reveal very ominous pattern of the sudden cultural demise.  Maya and the Easter Island provide two prominent examples of such sudden demise of a society.  From many different cases, a few common factors could be deduced, and shed light on what had induced such abrupt collapse of a society.  Those are over-consumption, overpopulation, and deprivation of natural resources. 

Prosperity of a society had led to the increase of its population, which in turn brought about over-consumption of natural resources.  The environmental condition around the society reached to the unbearable condition, which pushed the stability of the society to the tipping point.  Many archeological studies suggest the climate change, especially an extended draught for years, played a crucial role in catalyzing the sudden collapse of the society.  Sometimes it could be preceded with the lost of control on the society, in the form of a war or anarchy.  

What makes us uncomfortable is the fact that the history surely repeats same pattern again and again.  We can foretell our own future pretty accurately by carefully looking at our present, and by comparing it with the past learned from those archeological evidences.  

We are living in a highly advanced society.  It is surely in a prosperous condition, both economically and culturally, and alludes to a bright future.  But, such positive outlook could be deceiving.  Maybe, we are standing at the point in the history, where we have to ask ourselves whether we are overpopulated, over-consuming, and stripping off our natural resources.  If the answer is yes, we would have to look back into the past, and try to learn from it on what we have to do to fix our foreseeable future.  I mean our gloomy future. (Professor Dong Gon Park/ Chemistry)

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