What are we facing in 2009?

Vickie Tsang 

2008 passed months ago and left behind a series of world crises for 2009. Many believe that 2009 will be a hard year. Drawing back the economic curtain, we hear the environmental experts warning again that the continuing destruction done to the earth will soon result in horrible consequences. Just the other day, World Vision mentioned that in a world that has enough food we have an increasing number of famine victims.  

Economic crisis, environmental collapse and the common consequence of the failed state, famine, are three equally appalling global problems. But it seems that economic revival is much higher on the agendas of national governments than the other two. 

It is understandable, if wholly regrettable: the global economy is in chaos. Most companies have no choice but to cut down on human resources. People losing jobs, house prices dropping, retirement funds shrinking, all impact almost everyone directly. According to official figures, US unemployment rate reached 7.6% in February, up from 5.4% in January. Commenting on the figures, President Obama said that “the situation could not be more serious” and he came up with his $825bn Economic Stimulus Package. US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke has warned Congress that without the immediate right policies from the government, the US recession could last into 2010. Most of us may have no idea what might happen if the recession continues, but if it does, numerous vicious circles would develop. Rising unemployment would force consumers to cut back on spending which in turn would increase unemployment, for example. 

While developed countries are suffering from economic problems, there many people not affected too much, but only because they are longing for food enough to keep them alive. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 24,000 people die from hunger and related diseases on average each year. In other words, every 3.6 seconds, someone dies of hunger. Nowadays in famine-prone countries most of their food resources come from international aid, but a result of the global economic crisis is that the problem of uneven food distribution is likely to be intensified. In the next few years the famine figures will probably dramatically increase. 


To some degree, economic problems are also environmental and famine problems since green development and famine aid require prodigious capital. After being attacked by financial problems, the crises are much intensified. So, facing the ordinary question, “How can we tackle these crises?” some suggest that developed world governments should first revive the economy, explaining that with prosperity the international focus would soon shift back to the other two crises. But how long else can the earth sustain itself? Delaying each 3.6 seconds means the disappearance of a life and large area of green land. By the day when the focus finally shifts back, it might already be too late. In this tough period, solving the economic problems by solving the other two crises would be an efficient and beneficial way out.


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