Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Gringo Trail=Death by Popularity

The Hippie Trail originated as a way to describe the budget conscious travel route/s that hippies and others used during the 1960s and 1970s from Europe, overland to and from eastern Asia. Lonely Planet got its start in 1971 when the founders published accounts of their trip from the UK to Australia. The Gringo trail similarly describes the travel route/s that budget minded, mostly backpack toting, travelers utilize as they travel in Central and South America. Since the advent of Lonely Planet, other guidebooks have flourished and the the entire planet has been mapped out along the lines of the Hippie-Gringo trail perspective. These routes, which used
to be the domain of a relatively few adventurous souls now resembles an amusement park. Part of the answer to this problem is the explosion in World Population. Since my birth in 1961, the population has more than doubled. Taking a look at how population has increased since the time of the Industrial Revolution it it is easy to see that our latest doublings in population correspond to our extraction and use of oil as our primary source of energy. Oil has changed everything and has facilitated an unprecedented increase in world population, as shown by these numbers below:

1 billion=1804 It took us humans a long time to reach this number
2 billion=1927 took 123 years, 1804-1927 for another billion people
3 billion=1961 took only 34 years from 197 to add the next billion
4 billion=1974 took only 13 years for another billion from 1961-1974
5 billion=1987 again it took only 13 years to add a billion 1974-1987
6 billion=1999 now it took only 12 years to add a billion 1987-1999
7 billion=2011 in 2008 we are already at 6.8 billion
8 billion=2024 Its predicted it will take 13 years to add another billion
9 billion= 2042 then another 18 years to add another billion

By looking at the distributions of the worlds wealth it is also possible to see that two regions represented by the Gringo and Hippie Trails are regions that have been dominated by stronger imperial powers. That those who can afford to travel these routes, even on the cheap, are relatively well off compared to the majority of the population on the planet. That the critical areas where oil is present such as in the Middle East and South America are in turmoil and being contested by any one the three great superpowers of Europe, Asia or America. It is certainly an interesting time to be alive in this time where energy production and population are peaking.

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