We should be talking about world hunger and population and unchecked growth without a plan for that growth. We should be discussing climate change and actions to curb it. We should be working out what we can do for the children and adults in El Paso County who are hungry — and those across the globe who are starving to death.
We should, but we’re not.
Yesterday, the first ship filled with grain left Ukraine since Russia started its unnecessary and deadly war in that country. Ukraine has 20 million tons of grain in storage, and the country promises 20 more ships in the coming weeks. But while that’s welcome news, for many it’s not enough — or it’s too late. Millions of people are clinging to hope that droughts will ease, wars will end, and the climate crisis will be solved before they starve to death.
The roots of the crisis stem from a mix of human-caused problems and those of a changing natural environment. Wars, COVID and extreme weather have created a perfect storm for many less wealthy, less fortunate countries — leaving families struggling for food.
The United Nations World Food Program says as many as 50 million people in 45 countries are on the brink of famine, according to an article in this week’s New York Times. Across the globe, as many as 828 million people were undernourished last year, the Times said.
And in some places, like Yemen, aid groups are dividing what's available and, as the Times reported, “have to take food from the hungry to feed the starving.” (Around 60 percent of the people in Yemen don’t have enough to eat; half the population in Afghanistan needs food aid and 18 million people in the Horn of Africa face severe hunger, according to The New York Times.)
Another issue: The world does answer when there is a crisis — but not equitably and not reliably for everyone. When the United Nations sent out a call for aid to Ukraine, around 93 percent of that request was met. Similar requests for countries like Sudan, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo only received 21-45 percent of the request, according to the Times.
The head of the World Health Organization said that the disparity raises questions about whether the “world really gives equal attention to Black and White lives,” The New York Times reported. I think we all know the real answer to that — and we can add it to the list of things we’re steadfastly ignoring.
It’s time to address the big global issues that force millions of people to live in anguish, watching their children die. It’s time to reach out and help those in need; hungry people are everywhere, even in the richest nation on the planet. Here in El Paso County, you can do that through the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, Westside Cares, Tri-Lakes Cares and the Solid Rock Community Development Center. Across the globe, you can give through UNICEF, World Hunger USA, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Health Organization.
And don’t just give money to solve the current crisis. Insist that our politicians deal with the big issues that affect our whole planet: population growth beyond our natural resources; climate change; unchecked development that concretes over agricultural land and keeps water from refreshing aquifers. Change takes time. If we don’t start now, it will be too late for millions. It could, someday, be too late for us.
— Staff notes originally run in our daily email newsletter, Indy Now, along with news updates, photos of the day, a weekly poll and more. Sign up below.