For the past few months I have been, dare I say pompously and arrogantly, preoccupied with exploring the world of health, lifestyle and fun. On Friday the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (“FAO”) threw a large and much needed bucket of ice-cold water straight into my face with the release of an incredibly surprising and disturbing report on world hunger. For the first time ever the world’s hungry exceeded one billion people or 15% of our planet’s population. A very sobering and chilling piece of news! Before moving on I’d like to go back 15 months and revisit something I wrote:
How we approach and resolve the issues below, and how effectively the world collaborates, will ultimately define and shape the next one hundred years. These issues are increasingly moving to the forefront of the agenda of many nation states and I expect they’ll only grow in importance as we continue our journey into the 21st century.
-Explosive Population Growth
-Accelerating Technology Advancements
-Unprecedented Shift in World Economic Equilibrium
-Depletion of Fossil Fuels
-Deadly Virus Strains and Diseases
-Terrorism and Social Unrest
Believe me, these issues will increasingly occupy the front news and people will gradually come to realize their significance and direct implication for their own lives as we move further into the 21st century.
Yeah, right. Another doomsday prophet. Doesn’t concern us. We’ve heard it all before. We’re more worried about the economy and how it is now creating such hardship for us. This year we can’t even buy a new car and will have to do with the three cars we already have, one almost five years old. And we can’t afford to upgrade our TV to the latest 50-inch high definition offering. We are daily flooded with grotesque amounts of food, spend tens of billion dollars on a variety of ineffective weight programs in a losing battle to fight escalating obesity, and throw away enough food every year to feed tens or hundreds of million people. While one billion people go hungry every day. What’s wrong with this picture?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the findings in the FAO report. 93% of the world’s hungry live in Asia and Africa and an incredible one third of the African population, mostly in the Sub-Saharan countries, go hungry or starve. One out of every three people! The number of starving humans increased by a whopping 100 million from last year, in great part due to the world economic downturn and higher food prices. Soaring cost of basic foods like rice and maize is fueling worldwide unrest and riots. A goal of The World Food Summit is to reduce world hunger to 420 million people by 2015. We are not even close! There is no way for us to reach this goal as we are sadly heading in the opposite direction with no real counter-initiatives on the horizon.
Unfortunately it only gets worse. The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura reported at the Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul earlier this year that we are irrevocably heading toward a world water crisis unless we take immediate action. The course we are on will result in acute water shortages for half of planet Earth’s population in about 20 years. Think about this for a second and consider the unimaginable global consequences! Accelerating population growth, pollution, higher standards of living, increased meat consumption and a sharp up-tick in biofuel production are all contributing to the mounting water shortage. Poor health, diseases, environmental disasters, political and social unrest and even war (water issues sparked riots against the Khartoum government six years ago, which evolved into the current Darfur conflict with an estimated 400,000 fatalities), are direct consequences of water shortages. Lack of political support, a leadership vacuum and chronic underinvestment contribute to making the global water outlook virtually hopeless.
This doesn’t concern us either does it? It has always been like this and there is nothing we can do about it. And these reports are of course self-serving, alarmist propaganda and have absolutely nothing to do with reality. Right? No. The situation is escalating and a serious long-term threat to peace and prosperity for our kids and future generations. Spend a few months in Sub-Saharan Africa, report back to us about your experiences and you’ll find that your perspective on life has forever changed. We can all do something and we need to if we are to prevent this imminent (20-30 years is not that far away!) global catastrophe, which could ultimately trigger a complete Global Reset with unfathomable consequences.
I urge the plethora of environmentalist groups that search for meaningful causes to immediately abandon their uproar of Obama swatting a fly; forget about saving the minnows in California, resulting in tens of thousands of people out of work; and ditch all your other meaningless causes. Please focus your resources and energy on something that is of real importance to the world we live in! We’ll all be better off.
Only by being aware of, gaining a better understanding of and focusing on this massively critical global issue; by agreeing on and charting a long-term direction and solution; by mobilizing the necessary resources coupled with substantial commitments and investments, can we perhaps reverse the deadly course we are on. This is a highly complex issue that requires global cooperation and an unambiguous long-term course of action. I believe it’ll get a lot worse before appropriate action is taken and the problem is seriously addressed. But when that happens I’m confident that we’ll come up with a sustainable solution.
As a final note I want to recognize a friend, Carol Anne Levy, who is actively doing something about what we have discussed above and made it an integral part of her Global Journey in life. This is how she helps our world: