Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Plan B, Chapter 7 Highlights

"On the food front, the number of hungry is climbing. The long-term decline in the number of hungry and malnourished that characterized the last half of the twentieth century was reversed in the mid-1990s—rising from 825 million to roughly 850 million in 2000 and to over 1 billion in 2009. A number of factors contributed to this, but none more important than the massive diversion of grain to fuel ethanol distilleries in the United States. The U.S. grain used to produce fuel for cars in 2009 would feed 340 million people for one year" (Brown 170).

Yes, Brown cites those numbers. Check out the PDF for more info.

"Economist Gene Sperling [in “Toward Universal Education,” Foreign Affairs, September/ October 2001, pp. 7–13] concluded in a study of 72 countries that “the expansion of female secondary education may be the single best lever for achieving substantial reductions in fertility" (Brown 172). We're talking about fewer pregnancies in general, but we're also talking about lower infant and childhood mortality rates.

George McGovern (former Democratic Senator) thinks that feeding poor babies worldwide can help "dry up the swamplands of hunger and despair that serve as a potential recruiting ground for terrorists." Of course, that's not the only reason to feed hungry children, but it's a great argument when dealing with those among us who are more interested in national security than compassion. Brown adds, "In a world where vast wealth is accumulating among the rich, it makes little sense for children anywhere to go to school hungry" (174).

The next 10+ pages or so talk about stabilizing population growth, which many thinkers from multiple political persuasions think is the key issue we should focus on. Brown is blunt in his own opinion: "Put simply, filling the family planning gap may be the most urgent item on the global agenda. The costs to society of not doing so may be greater than we can afford" (184).

Final thoughts for today: subsidies are bad. Not only do they skew the ecological and human price of domestic commodities like corn and oil; they also undercut the fair market price for commodities produced by other nations. Not cool as far as global economics goes. When more states fail and the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, it hurts everybody. This trickle-down stuff has had its run and it didn't work.


Kimberly said...

Like! Are you familiar with the Millennium Development Goals?

Emily said...

Brown and other authors I've been reading talk about the MDG. I don't know them really well, but I'm familiar with the concept. Will look into it more. What are your thoughts on them?