Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Perfect Storm

Well, I set out looking for a laugh today. And then I just thought I should check the Times...

I came across a story on the front page of the World Business section that ties together a lot of things I've been looking at for the last few weeks.

World Food Supply Is Shrinking, U.N. Agency Warns

The story cites the effects of global warming on crop production, increased fuel prices and demand surges (one has to imagine ethanol accounts for part of this) as combined causes of the crisis. Wheat prices, it says, are up 52 percent from a year ago. Transportation prices are going up, reserves are down and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is warning that people aren't going to be able to get food.

“We’re concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world’s hungry,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program, in a telephone interview. She said that her agency’s food procurement costs had gone up 50 percent in the last five years and that some poor people were being “priced out of the food market.”

Priced out of the food market. According to the Word Food Programme, another UN organization, a child dies of hunger every 5 seconds. 10 million people a year from hunger and hunger related illnesses. I am not learning these numbers -- in fact, I'm hearing Sally Struthers' voice with an 80s montage as I write.

The problem with a project like this is it gets so big so quickly. All the different situations begin to come together, begin to overwhelm and overshadow... How do we internalize the numbers? What is the way to let information and circumstances both travel through us, into understanding and action and not push us into apathy, cynicism or enuii?

But that's how life feels too, sometimes, doesn't it -- especially at this time of year. My son was up with nightmares and a head cold at 3 am. Ice is coating the sidewalk and the stairs. I can't seem to listen to a Christmas song without thinking of an oil coated seal.

There are 14 days left of this year. I'm taking a break from spills until 2008. And I offer the following video - it made me laugh.

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