Paying Attention

I’ve been marginally aware, only sort of paying attention to the  ‘burgeoning food crisis’ as the media has dubbed the situation.  Normally I’m intensely skeptical, cynical of media crisis hype, but I’m thinking there might be something to this.

Australia has had a severe drought situation for over 10 years, 29 nations are halting their food exports, which will protect the populace of the exporting nations, but cause shortages in the countries that must import.  Food riots have occurred in Haiti, Bangladesh, Egypt, and parts of Africa. This past April, Wal-Mart and Costco began rationing their rice sales in the US. not in some consonant heavy third world country. The initial, emotional impact of rice rationing in the US is a sense of mild disbelief and denial. However, the ration limit is about 200 pounds per shopping visit. And when was the last time you went to the store and bought 200 pounds of rice?? Fortunately we have Jon Stewart to gain perspective of the situation.

Humor aside, we need to consider that we are globally interdependent, and we are becoming more interdependent on each other for goods and services. 
To my mind, that’s ok. It makes much more sense for a wet country to produce abundant rice than it does for an arid country to use its scarce water to produce rice or wheat.

My questions are: who’s minding the store? Who is on top of this food crisis with a global perspective? Who has the long-range vision that is not beholden to local politics? Can we turn to the UN, who has vast experience in feeding people? There is a huge leadership vacuum and an unwillingness of individual nations to sacrifice short term for long range benefits.  If the United States is ready to regain some measure of world respect, managing the food crisis would be an excellent place to start.

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