While the world leaders debate the nuclear arms race and others warn of untold casualties from a nuclear holocaust, an estimated 50 million people quietly starve to death each year. In addition, according to a United Nation‘s report released last year, more than a half billion people — one out of every nine human beings — are severely malnourished.
In 1981, the price of a child’s life was $100 but the world found it too high a price to pay. UNICEF Director James Grant said $100 is equivalent to only six weeks of what the world spends on arms now. But, in practice, it proved too high a price for the world to pay. And so, every two seconds of 1981, a child paid that price with its life. And 17 million of the 125 children who will be born in 1982 also will die before their fifth birthday.
“This (1981) has been, therefore, another year of ‘silent emergency;’ of 40,000 children quietly dying each day; of 100 million children quietly becoming disabled in mind or body; of 200 million 6 to 11 year-olds quietly watching other children go to school; of one-fifth of the world’s people quietly struggling for life itself,” the U.N. report said.
Right now, there is more than enough food being produced to meet the basic nutritional needs of every person in the world if it were wisely distributed. But this may change radically. One of the world’s great bread baskets — the Missouri River Basin and the Great Plains — is being threatened with a return to the Dust Bowl of the ’30s. Should current trends continue, this would be a disaster of worldwide dimension.
The problems are the result of massive topsoil erosion, “mining” of fossil water from the Ogallala Aquiver, coal and oil shale development, surface mining, biomass development, and urbanization. The problem is compounded by economic threats to U.S. farmers, from the high costs of fuel, fertilizer, farm equipment, and borrowing money.
The failure of the media to make world hunger a critical international issue and to warn of the possible loss of an enormous agricultural resources qualifies this story for nomination as one of the “best censored” stories of 1981.
Senior Scholastic, 10/16/81, “Earth’s Hungry Millions” by Peter M. Jones, S.F. Examiner, 10/81 “40,000 Children Quietly Dying Each Day in ’81;” CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter 1981, “The Moral Dilemma of Keeping the Plains Alive” by Wes Jackson.