Is the world about to watch 750,000 Somalis starve to death? The United Nations warnings could not be clearer. A drought-induced famine is steadily creeping across Somalia and tens of thousands of people have already died Famine Ravages Somalia in a World Less Likely to Intervene, Jeffery Gettleman
In Somalia, 750,000 people are expected to starve to death in a matter of months. Tens of thousands have already perished, as East Africa experiences its worst drought in 60 years. For this region to be experiencing its driest period in six decades is sadly indicative of the dire state of our global environmental stasis, since it seems as if we hear of famine and hunger quite regularly in that area. In total, 4 million people are in crisis according to the UN. It is now becoming common knowledge as to the impact that climate change has on the weather patterns that have left this and other parts of the world woefully without rain, to dry to derive nutrition from the very earth that once produced life as we now know it. It is easy to look at the news and sympathize with the plight of those we dont know. It is easy to text a few dollars worth of charity, but it is even easier and more effective to stop eating meat, so others can simply eat.
With the world's population expected to climb from 6.9 billion to 9 billion by 2050, the issue of food was put at the top of this year's G-20 agendaThere are already a billion people who don't have enough to eat.
Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC, states it succinctly: "People go hungry because much of arable land is used to grow feed grain for animals rather than people." He offers as one example the Ethiopian famine of 1984, which was fueled by the meat industry. While people starved, Ethiopia was growing linseed cake, cottonseed cake and rapeseed meal for European livestock, he says. Millions of acres of land in the developing world are used for this purpose. Tragically, 80 percent of the worlds hungry children live in countries with food surpluses which are fed to animals for consumption by the affluent. Today, Somalia is heavily dependant upon animal agriculture for its meager subsistence, contributing over 40% of its GDP and over 50% of its export earnings. Taking advantage of its proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, Somali traders have increasingly begun to challenge Australia's traditional dominance over the Persian Gulf Arab livestock and meat market, offering quality animals at very low prices. In response, Persian Gulf Arab states have started to make strategic investments in the country, with Saudi Arabia building livestock export infrastructure and the United Arab Emirates purchasing large farmlands. All the while, people starve.
So while Somalians suffer from the unique epidemic of kwashikor, protein and other basic nutrient deficient illnesses, an acre of land that is used to raise 20 lbs of animal protein could be used to produce 356 lbs of vegetable protein. According to the British group Vegfam, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle. Britain -- with 56 million people -- could support a population of 250 million on an all-vegetable diet. Imagine what it could do for Somalia...
Imagine sitting down to an eight-ounce steak. Then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls in front of them. For the 'feed cost' of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of cooked cereal grains. Frances Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet X