Monday, April 2, 2012

The Story Of Ammajan Amina: The Rise to the Modern Standard Of Living and its Effect on The World

Amina’s story brings a lot of sadness, but also a great amount of gratitude, empathy, and respect for Amina’s struggle out of poverty and starvation.  Her experiences as a whole really made me put my life into perspective to really understand how life is quite different here than in many places in the world.  From a utilitarian perspective, there are a few things I found particularly disturbing.  For example,   while she was out making buying and making food/money for her family, her brother-in-law sold the tin roof that was on their house, subsequently leaving the mud walls to collapse due to rain.  Why couldn’t the brother-in-law support his brother’s widow with her business and drive to take care of her children, instead he’d rather betray her by selling the very roof over her head.  Another event I found disturbing was the fact that the husband spent all the families money on a cure for his ailing disease, which in turn left the family in poverty and hunger because he wish to waste his life earnings away on a cure, rather than balance his budget to make sure his family is taken care of.   

As the economy of China continues to grow, it will have to feed a population of an ever-growing country.  “Between 1950 and 1998, China's grain production went from 90 million tons to 392 million tons. It was one of the world's major economic achievements in the last half century. But then, after 1998, grain production started to drop. One of the reasons was because of spreading water shortages. Between 1998 and 2003, grain production fell from 392 million tons to 322 million tons.”(Brown, World in the Balance: The People Paradox)  As a result of this food shortage of grain in China, they will look to the world market for more grain to meet their countries consumption needs.  As a result, this may lead the price of grain in the United States to go up because of the globalized market.  Will we be able to feed a billion people in the future along with the needs of our own country and other countries abroad.  In the end, to solve this problem, Brown says, “We need to restructure our global economic plan if we are to live in a sustainable world.”   Another issue is that of global warming.  It’s a proven fact that our world is getting warmer as a result of several conditions which in itself includes the excessive increase in carbon emissions.   “Recent research at the International Rice Research Institute looking at the precise relationship between temperature and crop yields indicates that each 1°C rise in temperature above the optimum during the growing season leads to a 10 percent decline in grain yields—wheat, rice, and corn. Those results have been confirmed by crop ecologists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”(Brown)  This leads to water shortages in key areas in the country, and the water beds and aquifers start to decrease because nature cannot re-fill itself at the same rate as which we consume our resources.  If we do not start taking action against global warming or climate change, our food supply and water supply will start to diminish at a quicker rate.

                India is a country that has seen exponential growth in the past decade or so.  They have hit a boom of industrialization.  Their agriculture industry grew incredibly as well.  In 1965, a team from the Department Agriculture with Brown as a member went to India to work on a project dealing with high-yielding wheat.  “The result of these improvements was that India doubled its wheat harvest in seven years. No major country had ever so rapidly doubled a major food staple as India did with wheat. And since then India has more than doubled its total grain production.”(Brown)  Unfortunately, today that increased production has slowed down over time, to barely any increased capacity of grain production on such a large scale today.  The ever-growing population has an exceeded the speed at which the grain can be produced causing food shortages on a large scale.  “We can get 2 percent here, 5 percent there, and maybe 10 percent some other place. But the doublings of grain harvests in major producing countries now appears to be history.” (Brown)

                As the economies grow all over the world, the food, water, and energy needs of the people will only grow as modern industrialization takes place in lesser developed nations.  The speed at which these resources can be provided will not match that of the need of an ever-growing modernized society.  The world must devise a plan on how to manage the issue in order to sustain a working global economy.  How can we feed a growing world when numbers have already peaked, but are maintained for now unless population growth is not curbed.  How can a world with human rights stop the growth of the human race that which is free to do as they wish in the modern world?  How can we provide for people all over the world without sky-rocketing the prices at home because of the need on a global scale?  Will the world work together to help fix our part with the burning of fossil fuels that cause CO2 emissions in our atmosphere which has directly reflected on global warming.  In Texas, the natural gas fracking, has led to water contaminations and shortages as well as a direct reflection on the crop production.  This can also be said to true about the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.  Many experts say that the unregulated fracking industry can lead to significant environment issues.  For example, due to the drilling taking place in a flood plain area, effects on the water table are a cause of serious concern.  Fracking could lead to contamination of the entire drinking water supply for the entire area that benefits from the fresh water supplied by the Delaware River and its tributaries.

Interview of Lester Brown conducted in December 2003 by Sarah Holt, producer of "World in the Balance: The People Paradox," and edited by Peter Tyson, editor in chief of NOVA Online

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