"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must...undergo the fatigue of supporting it." - Thomas Paine
A family friend is loaning me a book entitled Enough: Why The World's Poorest Starve In An Age Of Plenty written by two Wall Street Journal(ists). When she gave me the book, said friend told me I would probably have to read it in stages, because it's just that depressing up until a bit more than halfway through when they start talking about current initiatives.
I haven't even made it to page one yet (there's a preface), and I'm already angry at the world.
In the 70s and 80s, the Green Revolution did a lot of good for hunger in Asia, India, and Latin America. Things looked good in Ethiopia, too. Farmers brought in their biggest harvests in a long time. However, that didn't go so well for them when they took the crops to market; the huge surpluses caused an enormous drop in prices, so they didn't make much (if any) money. It might have been possible to pull themselves out of it next year, but the weather was horrible.
There's a specific man whose story is told in the preface. He sold his oxen (which pulled his plow), and then his cows, and then his goats, all to be able to buy food for his family. They ran out, and didn't have any crops to sell. That year, the man carried his five year-old son, who weighed only 25 pounds, to a humanitarian/starvation aid camp instead of carting his crops to the market. Basically, the problem was that money went into boosting the farmers, rather than into building an infrastructure that could sustain more prosperity. 14 million Ethiopians alone died from starvation in 2003.
And then there's some stupid rule that says if some of the African governments subsidize their farmers like we do in America, the U.S. and some European governments will stop loaning them money. And humanitarian aid has become an entire industry over here, so it becomes more about the people giving the money than the people getting the money. $500 million in American-grown grain was given to Ethiopians who needed it in 2003, but only $5 million went towards building aforementioned needed infrastructure.
There really is enough money in the world to feed everybody. I'm not exactly sure where all of that money is going (again, I've only read the preface so far), but I highly doubt all of it is needed wherever it currently is.
It's ridiculously inefficient to feed food (cows, for instance, eat insane amounts of corn), so even just cutting back on meat in general would free up a ton of resources, both food-wise and land-wise.
Yes, loads of projects are worthy endeavors, but...isn't starvation a more important thing to focus on? One of the "lesser" initiatives mentioned in the book is the space program. And as much as I really hate to admit it...space isn't going anywhere (well, technically space itself is expanding-- not just the matter within it). We literally have the rest of the lifetime of the human race in which to explore it.
So now I'm mad. Partially because it seems like a fixable problem, partially because I don't know how easy that would actually be, partially because people (including me) are rather ignorant about the matter, and partially because I have very little idea as to how to help at this point.
Off to FreeRice, then.