Monday, April 14, 2008

Forestalling Famine and Financial Failure

In the wake of food riots in Haiti that resulted in deaths, property damage, and the ouster of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis, the threat to social and political stability resulting from food shortages is a clear and present danger. The inadequate global food reserves, resulting from low level harvests, increased consumption, and shifting priorities towards agriculture, is leading to a worldwide crisis of hunger and famine among the impoverished people of poorer nations. This precarious situation can cause the Haiti riots to take place in many countries around the world.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick stated that the rapid rise in food prices could push 100 million people in poor countries into deeper poverty, compounding the scarcity in food supply. His statement follows that of International Monetary Fund's head Dominique Strauss Khan's warning that continuous rise in food prices will drive hundreds of thousands of people to starvation. This will effectively wipe out the gains in poverty reduction in the last 10 years and may cause trade imbalances.

The food crisis could trigger conflicts and undermine the legitimacy of governments. As a result, the World Bank has announced "A New Deal for Global Food Policy" that would boost agricultural developments for the long term. Immediately, WB President Zoellick called for the release of funds for the needy people in poor countries for food purchases, as well as for seeds to be ready for the next planting season. He also asked wealthy countries to fill the fund shortfall of the World Food Program estimated at US$500 million. However, the financial crunch and the impact of the US recession have yet to be fully measured which may cause delays in supporting the WFP's funding for food.

For its part, the G7 group of most industrialized nations have passed a plan to ease the credit crisis in the global credit markets. Members have committed themselves to more oversight of financial firms and greater financial transparency, including the improvement in the work of credit rating agencies. Calling on authorities' responsiveness to financial risks, it puts in place arrangements to deal with stress in the financial system.

The recognition of the food shortage problem by the WB-IMF is commendable, and their response to avert a global catastrophe of malnutrition, hunger, starvation and socio-political instability worldwide is hopefully, successful. Its timeliness is already in question with the Haiti incident and the subsequent sacrifice of its Prime Minister. Yet it will still not put food on the table of Haitians until the US$10 million released by the WB is transformed into affordable and adequate food for the population.

The stunning confluence of events stresses the inter-connectivity of global economies and citizens of the world. The desire to solve the destructive effects of fossil fuel as energy source led to the re-allocation of crops for biofuels; but the volatile weather conditions created low harvests that decimated food supply and reserves. The economic growth of populous nations created a large middle class that wanted improved diets, resulting in shifting agricultural lands to grazing for livestock, further reducing land for food staples. The rapid industrialization and urbanization added to the depletion of farm lands, since these were converted to industrial parks, urban centers and housing locations. And, the increase in population that adds pressure on the environment to sustain a huge volume of people on the planet that does not grow in size nor resources.

It is increasingly evident that there are limits to what the world can take. The creation of products that are meant to kill or damage, and the use of otherwise productive human resources for destructive purposes, will not improve the global condition but will lead it to more waste. Man has emerged as the most dominant species on the planet, yet it seems that his propensity for domination will not end until the planet itself is ruined. Man is part of nature, and its destruction will lead to man's doom - that is basic. Until the pressure on the earth's resources are reduced, mankind will be closer to a condition described by Charles Darwin as the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. That, will put an end to all order as we know it.



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Kim said...

it's a terrible thing....when there is such a serious shortage of food for so many....compared to the excesses and all of the waste that occurs in the richer nations....
it is so unbalanced Durano...

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

The problem of poorer nations is that they don't have the money to buy the food they need because of the rising prices brought about by scarcity.

Scarcity is brought about by low harvests and shifting land use, and global weather changes.

Even those poor people in first world countries would suffer hunger and malnutrition because of the rise in prices. This current trend is now global.

The really sad part is the wasteful consumption in rich countries and the spending sprees of the ultra rich, who are detached from the harsh realities facing a majority of the world's people.

It has always been unbalanced Kim, in favor of those with power and wealth and who continuously pursue domination, plunder and abuse.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you get to complete that work in progress titled :Abstract Procrastination. :-) --Durano, done!

The Fitness Diva said...

Could somebody just bring back the 70's? How about the 60's? We as a world had so much more to hope for and be optimistic about then.
I mean, no era was perfect, but none has had as much doom and gloom, worldwide chaos, and dire predictions as the one we're in now.
Scotty, beam me up!

Tapline said...

Brad, I read somewhere that Bush has authorized 200 million for the have not's dealing with the food crisis. I hadn't realized there was such a crisis. Sad part of this is if it's given to a individual country and not an aid agency, the poor of that country will not see what they should see in the way of relief. It will be syphoned off and not reach them....stay well.....

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Fitness Diva,

Returning to the 60's and 70's would be living in the past, which will bring us back to this day with the same problems.

If you think people will listen to you in the 70's if you talk about what will happen in 2008, it's not gonna happen. As it is, we can see it happening already and still many are contesting the population's pressure on the environment (Catholic Hierarchy and Christian Leaders), and global warming (conservatives and big business).

Looking back to the decades you mentioned brings memories so good and feelings of nostalgia for those days long gone. Perhaps we were not concerned and it was not our responsibility, that's why we can look back with carefree emotions.

But now that were here and are responsible and concerned enough to appreciate how it will impact on us and the future, It looks like it's all doom and gloom.Something we'd rather not face.

The more we resist the necessary change in our lifestyles, the more it's going to get worse. So, if you have a way of being beamed up somewhere, i suggest you go immediately! LOL! :-)--Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tapline,

Yes, President Bush has authorized the release of US$200 million for poorer countries to purchase food. Of this amount, $10 million will go to Haiti.

At least in Haiti we know that it will benefit the people, unless they want the entire government structure to be wiped out by riots. :-)--Durano, done!

Kim said...

hah Durano...
it may end up a 'work in procrastination' rather than a 'work in progress' !!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Are you referring to the painting or the food shortage? LOL!

If you keep painting over it, it may get too heavy. If it does and it falls, let it fall! Don't try to catch it with any arm. Then leave it where it dropped, take a picture and title it...Fallen Procrastination. :-)--Durano, done!

Kim said...

haha Durano...
I'll keep that in mind ;)