People are fighting for food around the world, according to a report on ABC-TV April 10.
Haiti has had food-related riots for months. In India, 600 million farmers and their families struggle on less than $2 per day to pay for the increasing cost of food and cooking oil. In Kenya, the staple vegetable, kale, doubled in price in the last three months.
Egypt erupted into deadly riots two weekends ago because food has gone up 40 percent in recent months. In Iraq, a sack of flour went up by 50 percent. Indonesia’s poor population has to deal with increased cost of rice (25 percent), cooking oil (40 percent) and soybeans (50 percent). China and India import millions of tons of soybeans from Brazil to feed their people.
The rising prices of staple foods like rice, beans and corn have left people hungry and angry. The causes are many: war, internal conflicts, weather, increased demand, and the demand for bio-fuels.
Hunger has expressed itself in riots, looting, protests, and rebellion. As a Christian community, can we stand by and watch the poorest struggle with such devastation?
The Bible says that “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Psalms 24:1) Since everything is the Lord’s, as good stewards what is the compassionate thing to do? What is the responsible thing to do?
As we evaluate the food crisis, we must ask the question, “why now?” Could it be a result of global warming, governmental policies, and self-centered and short-sighted interests?
May I ask you to consider the possibility that America’s energy policies could create a crisis more horrendous than “global warming.” In our zeal to address the postulation of a temperature increase of 1 Celsius degree within a 100-year time period and its impact on life, have we overlooked the impact on today?
In 2006, 87.8 million people in the world suffered food shortages according to the World Food Programme. These numbers have increased to present.
Instead of letting market forces determine the type of fuel used in our vehicles, policies were established to introduce bio-fuels. Bio-fuels are fine, but when mandated by government to require 10 to 20 percent ethanol in every gallon of petroleum gas in our country, it generated a massive market for corn ethanol and a giant food crisis around the world.
According to economist Dr. Walter Williams, if all the corn grown in the US were turned into ethanol, we would only reduce our fuel needs by 10 to 12 percent. Not only that, he reports that to produce a gallon of ethanol from corn requires an equal gallon of diesel or gasoline to run the equipment. Thus, the increased energy production is a wash.
The decision to mandate ethanol blends of gas throughout the country has created a food crisis throughout the world. It has increased food costs and impacted all goods and services to the peoples of the world. Was this decision worth seeing 87.8 million people hungry, so that we can make an uncertain impact on the climate a hundred years from now?
The focus should not be fuel or food, but both. As good stewards of God’s earth, let us raise corn for the purpose of feeding a hungry world. When it comes to propelling the economy at home and abroad, let us develop cleaner nuclear energy plants for electricity, build efficient oil refineries, and drill for oil on our soils and offshore to accommodate the 100 million population increase in America, alone, since the ‘70s.
At the same time, let us continue to develop alternative fuels, such as wind, bio-fuels from sources other than food products, biomass, refuse, solar, etc.
In this way, we can show compassion today by placing a priority on life for the peoples of the world, and then work to advance energy development to improve the quality of life in the future. Through a balanced approach, we become good stewards of God’s incredible earth.