Global Problems Require Solutions by Global Agencies? If So, Which?
Today, the world is rife with problems, but the historical record suggests that it always has been. In sharp contrast to the past, though, modern global problems are truly enormous in terms of their diversity and scope. While emerging economic powerhouses such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia are reaping the benefits of an increasingly globalized marketplace, the demand for food and fuel has skyrocketed along with their prices. Competition over scarce resources has always been a source of conflict, but current signs indicate that the competition for resources in the future will become truly fierce because current supplies of fossil fuels are being depleted at an increasingly faster rate. In this environment, regional conflicts and even global war are potential outcomes that will require global solutions. To determine which global agencies will play a role in implementing and administering these solutions, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature, followed by a summary of the research in the conclusion.
Review and Discussion
One of the harsh realities of transitioning from a fossil-fuel dependent civilization to one that draws energy from renewable resources is the false starts that are necessary to bridge the gap between traditional sources and renewable resources. This is what is happening with the world’s food supplies as major food producing countries such as the United States transform edible crops into energy in the form of biofuels. A veritable global famine is developing as a result of the diversion of food crops such as corn into biofuels such as ethanol that are barely making a dent in the need while driving food prices up around the world. For instance, according to Searchinger (2011), “To be sure, reducing hunger in a world headed towards more than nine billion people by 2050 is a truly complicated challenge that calls for a broad range of solutions. But this is a long-term problem separate from the sudden rise in food prices” (p. 14). Although higher energy prices and a weaker dollar are responsible for some of the increases in food prices, these factors do not account for the doubling in wholesale food prices since 2004 (Searchinger, 2011). Rather, Searchinger emphasizes, “That starring role belongs to biofuels. Since 2004, biofuels from crops have almost doubled the rate of growth in global demand for grain and sugar and pushed up the yearly growth in demand for vegetable oil by around 40% (p. 14). Indeed, in his recent speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “Millions of people have been pushed into poverty by the latest food price rises. I am especially concerned about the poorest households that often spend three-quarters of their income on food…When prices go up, they go hungry” (2011, para. 3). When people go hungry, they frequently go to war as a last resort. Therefore, this global problems clearly demands a global solution and organizations such as the United Nations’ High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis as well as its World Food Program are in the best position to address the immediate needs of the world’s hungry.
Complex problems demand complex solutions, and the research showed that this is certainly the case with global problems. As the demand for energy continues to rise, increasing amounts of food is being turned into biofuels to help meet the need. In the process, millions of people are being impoverished and millions more are going hungry. This global problem holds the potential to become even worse if hungry people decide they have no alternative but to fight for their right to live — and history has shown time and again that they will. International organizations such as the United Nations are in a good position to help alleviate this problem in the short-term, but long-term solutions will require coordination between the international community, and nongovernmental organizations will not be able to address these needs without the full cooperation and support of major food-producing countries such as the United States.
Ki-Moon, B. (2011, March 11). Remarks to the UN General Assembly. United Nations.
Retrieved from http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=137&
Searchinger, T. (2011, July). A quick fix to the food crisis. Scientific American, 305(1), 14.
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