On the road toward fulfilling the Bono-endorsed slogan, "Make Poverty History," the world has hit an unexpected speed bump: prosperity. India's expanding auto industry puts 4,300 new cars a day on already-crowded streets. Oil-wealthy Russia has doubled its meat consumption since 2000. Brazil's sizzling economy is growing its use of steel at a faster rate (over 20 percent this year alone) than nearly any other nation. China has increased its consumption of eggs by a factor of ten in recent years.
Globalizing markets and economies have created new winners: Russia, China, Brazil, and India. The 2.9 billion people in these four nations are driving demand for consumer goods to levels the global economy has never seen before. In 2001, the financial press began using the acronym bric (Brazil, Russia, India, China) to denote the emerging $13.8 trillion powerhouse. The prosperity of these economically booming nations has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
But there are also new losers—nation-states living on the dark side of the new prosperity. It is worse than just grinding poverty. One expert whom Christianity Today spoke with estimates that worldwide, 25,000 people die each day of hunger-related illnesses. Most of these preventable deaths occur in regions with no oil, insufficient food, and unending conflict.
This new reality comes after 45 years of steady progress in global food production. Last year, for example, there was a record production of 2.3 billion tons of grain. But production has been unable to keep pace with demand. Grain stockpiles are at 30-year lows. Globally, 850 million people are chronically hungry. Experts cite the following reasons:
- Failed harvests. Since 2006, multi-year drought, cyclones, and other natural disasters have dramatically cut harvests in some food-exporting nations. A six-year drought in Australia's rice-growing region, for example, has caused its harvest to plummet.