RUNNING ON EMPTY
According to the Bible, right after God pooped out humanity, He told us, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground… I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth.” What He didn’t tell us was that all this shit is finite – that if we continued to fuck one another silly without contraceptives, eventually the planet wouldn’t be able to sustain the human race. This is yet another reason why God isn’t real, and He isn’t going to save us from anything. So get over it already.
Mother Nature, on the other hand, is one very real and very bad bitch who is capable of shaking Homo sapiensoff her topsoil like a nasty case of dandruff. And pretty soon, if things keep going the way they are (and let’s just be honest, they will), the seed-bearing plants will rot, “meteorologist” will cease to be a job description, most everyone will freeze to death and cannibals will roam free, feasting on any remaining stragglers.
In recognition of this terrible – but inevitable – outcome, we asked our international offices to put their research caps on and find out which sorts of precious materials and resources their countries were running out of the fastest. We know you only flush for No. 2 and work in a green office or whatever, but the sort of problems detailed below are, at this point, pretty much unfixable. Not much else to do but sit back and watch the long, slow death of the floating rock we call home.
The United States has lots of abundant resources – purple mountain majesties, spacious skies, and so on – but it may soon be in danger of running out of amber waves of grain. According to Steven Stoll, professor of environmental history at Fordham University, America’s arable farmland is shrinking. Part of the problem is that farmers are finding it more profitable to sell their land to developers than to use it for its intended purpose – the American Farmland Trust estimates that between 1982 and 2007, 41 million acres of rural space was lost this way.
The erosion of soil is also an increasing threat: A Cornell University study found that Kansas, once one of the country’s most abundant agricultural states, loses 650 tons of topsoil – the two-foot layer of nutrient-rich soil that’s vital to growing pretty much anything – per year. Though the US continues to export over $130 billion in agricultural commodities each year, it is also exporting smaller amounts of crops like soybeans and grain than it has in the past. One of the only things keeping America’s farming industry alive is the fact that the prices for the basic foodstuffs it produces remain high.
The main problem in Bulgaria is that they’re running out of Bulgarians. According to data from the Bulgarian Center for Demographic Policy, its population is decreasing at a rate of 70,000 to 80,000 people per year, or about six people per hour. Why? Fewer and fewer babies are being born, death rates are increasing and young people who have limited career prospects want to get the hell out of the country. These three factors are most likely going to persist throughout the near future, and signs of brain drain have been apparent since the mid-80s. The Bulgarian National Statistical Institute says that the population has decreased from about 9 million in 1989 to 7.3 million in 2011. By 2060, that number will have dropped to less than 6 million, and in 2134 there won’t be a single Bulgarian left.
The Greeks welcomed the German head of government.
On the second Wednesday of every month, Klinikum Wahrendorff, a psychiatric hospital in Köthenwald, Germany, becomes the most improbable disco in the world. The common room is cleared out and transformed into something resembling a typical discotheque: People dress up, dance, drink, flirt, argue, and generally get out of hand. The main difference here is that while it’s hard to get in to a regular club, it’s even more difficult to get out of Wahrendorff.
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When VICE Germany sent us some footage of the Lehnitz animal asylum, we weren’t sure how cute it was going to be. Little did we know, boar piglets live there! These little rascals were found in the woods and love to eat, sleep, play, and hang out with their surrogate mom, who’s a dog.
Watch the film here
EXIT Deutschland is an anti-Nazi organisation that helps people get out of the far-right game they’ve found themselves tangled up in and rehabilitate. Founded by former police detective Bernd Wagner and former neo-Nazi leader, Ingo Hasselbach, in many ways it’s similar to a witness protection programme – leaving a neo-Nazi cell or group is no picnic, and many people who make the decision to leave extremism live in fear of being attacked by the people they’re trying to leave behind.
Read about EXIT Deutschland here.
The liberal political party in Germany, “Die Linke”, is pushing to make marijuana legal as long as it’s been cultivated in so-called Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs). Under the proposed legalisation, people could become members of a CSC club and take a gram of marijuana home with them each day. Furthermore, motorists who are caught with THC coursing happily through their bloodstreams would not lose their licenses as easily. Similar legislation is already in place in Spain and Belgium, and unsurprisingly crusties and amateur stoners alike are attending such clubs in scores.
Since 2002, Georg Wurth has been the spokesman, director and owner of the German Hemp Collective. In 1996, he was charged with possession of four grams of marijuana, and so took it upon himself to get the ball rolling on the legalisation debate. To his misfortune (or fortune?), his charge brought him to the highest place possible, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, but it’s his 2010 petition, titled “Cannabis Consumer Decriminilisation”, that has played a major role in getting Die Linke to take these proposals to parliament.
I spoke to Georg the day before Die Link put the proposals he helped shape to parliament.
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