Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
The reasons for the inequitable distribution of human nourishment, worldwide, are complex and hotly debated. Many regions of the world still don’t have reliable systems of distribution. Political corruption and corporate greed take their toll. Starvation has, true to Malthus’ predictions, never been eradicated. We’ve had the means to solve the worldwide hunger problem but, apparently, not the motivation. Our agricultural tools have been equal to this task for several decades, but our political devices have fallen short. In the wealthy parts of the world people have never, seemingly, been sufficiently inspired to overcome the challenges of feeding those in the Earth’s poorer neighborhoods. It is clearly not a simple matter to distribute surplus Iowa corn to the pantries of drought-famished Africa. Evidence would suggest that good nutrition, worldwide, is not impossible, only improbable. And contemporary phenomena like climate change and population growth only make that challenge more vexing.
As the planet becomes more heavily populated with human beings, lines of communication become more efficient. As we’ve become more crowded, we’ve also become more aware, generally, of the circumstances of human life worldwide. Today’s poor Mexican laborer knows that the price of his tortillas goes up when ethanol producers in the United States put new demands on the grain supply. The soccer mom in New England fills the fuel tank on her minivan with at least a general awareness that she’s having an effect on the global economy. Suddenly we’re conscious that our decision to drive a 12-mile-per-gallon SUV may increase food prices for a poor family somewhere, straining to buy a few pounds of grain.