Since the invention of shops, we’ve become increasingly accustomed – bank balance willing – to being able to pluck pretty much anything from a shelf or storeroom somewhere.
Obviously, you don’t want to run out of particular types of stuff at times when you need them.
Like bread and milk at breakfast time, deodorant on the morning you go for that big interview (especially if it’s at a deodorant company), petrol when you’re miles from a petrol station, coffee at times when you’re awake, toilet roll when you’ve just…. well, you get the idea.
Even if there’s a gap on the shelf where your favourite brand of plastic-encased price-inflated tap water used to be, there’s usually another exorbitantly-priced bottle of water (also available from a tap) to choose from.
But what if we started to run out of really important stuff? Fundamental stuff. And no, I don’t mean Tres Chic Dead Black Eyeliner #65 or Frog-embossed bog roll.
I’m on about food, oil and water. And I’m not talking about a shortage at the corner shop or supermarket, but asking if there’s a risk that as a planet, our supplies might be in danger of running low soon.
I looked at these resource crunch issues in a feature for G Magazine on the challenge Australia and the rest of the world faces to secure food, oil and water.
As is always the case in questions about sustainability or environmental degradation, the answers are way more complex than the question.
It’s not so much that we’ll run out of water, but rather there’ll be a lot less clean water for drinking and growing food. It’s not so much that we’ll run out of food, but that food supplies will be less reliable. And we won’t squeeze the last drop of oil from the planet, just the easy to reach and therefore cheap stuff.
Of course, the issue underpinning a lot of this has much less to do with running out of stuff, and a lot more to do with our ability to see and act before the problems hit.