VIA SBINSIDER, Holly Go Lightly | January 25th, 2023
Between 1931 and 1934 nearly 4 million people died of starvation in Ukraine, which became known as the Holodomor, or forced starvation resulting in death. This starvation was caused by Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union. Are we headed to Holodomor Part II, to be caused by another Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin? At the Great Decisions meeting, held at Mountain View on January 23rd, the topic was Famine – A Renewed Threat in the 21st Century. Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg presented the materials for this event, followed by a video from the Foreign Policy Association.
In today’s global marketplace and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the consequences of a far-reaching famine are expanding right before our eyes. The famine that occurred 90 years ago was forced on Ukraine by Stalin as he mandated collectivist farms. Today, Russia is sanctioning another famine in their name. The destruction of crops in Ukraine puts many other countries, already food-insecure, at great risk for famine. Most of Africa, including Egypt, Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, Pakistan and China all rely on grain from Ukraine.
During the Great Decisions presentation one of the primary causes of famine is identified as armed conflict. Whether war, civil war, or revolution, armed conflict disrupts the food supply, destroys farmland, and kills farmers. This was done purposely 90 years ago and is being done today in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine can be defined as an “extreme event in which a large number of people or population in a geographic area is suffering from lack of food,” which is how famine is defined by Daniel Maxwell of Tufts University.
In a Washington Post article about the Ukraine conflict published in April of last year, Max Bearak wrote ” . . . in six months’ time, poor people will starve to death. I don’t think the world understands that yet.”
Other notable famines were listed during the presentation including:
1770 Begal Famine
1783 Chalisa Famine
1852 Irish Potato Famine
1907 Chinese Famine
1917 Persian Famine
1921 Russian Famine
1932 Russian Famine
1932 Great Chinese Famine
1994 Korean Famine
Armed conflict is one of the main causes of famine. So is disease, either human or plant based as was seen in the Irish Potato Famine. Severe drought in the early part of last century contributed to famines. The Korean famine resulted from large scale flooding and poor government leadership. The Bengal Famine was the result of flooding, cyclones, tidal waves, rice fungus and lost trading partners from whom food was imported. Two of these famines, the 1932 Russian Famine that included Ukraine, and the Great Chinese Famine were brought about by government confiscation and control of farms and of everything the farms produced-creating a “perfect man” based on Marx’s “scientific socialism” didn’t work well then either.
From 2020 to 2022 there has been an increase of 25% of people in food insecurity on the planet. It may be that we can expect this to increase in the coming years.
The next Great Decisions presentation is on Monday January 30 at 3:00 PM, and the Mountain View Ballroom addressing the topic of Climate Migration.