Moved by the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled the ongoing conflict in Syria, Buddhist Global Relief has made an emergency donation of $10,000 to the World Food Programme (“WFP”) to help feed families forced from their homes.
According to the WFP, over 1.2 million people are displaced inside Syria and some 250,000 people have fled the country and become refugees in neighboring countries. Many fled the conflict zones with their families under shelling and gunfire from both government and rebel forces, often able to bring along only the clothes that they were wearing. Harsh conditions in refugee camps—including plummeting temperatures and flooding—are making for a life of intense suffering. Many families living in tents lack heaters and winter clothing.
Food for these families is the most critical need. It takes only $72 to provide a month’s worth of food for a Syrian refugee family. BGR’s donation will feed 138 families for an entire month during the difficult winter season.
The WFP is the food assistance branch of the United Nations, and it is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing global hunger. It is funded entirely by voluntary donations. To read more about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and to make a personal donation, go here.
We are thankful to BGR’s generous donors who are making this emergency food donation possible.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Last month, the international relief agency Oxfam issued a briefing entitled Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices, which deals with the impact of extreme weather events on global food prices. The briefing, a summary of a longer research report, makes an important distinction between two kinds of effects that climate change will have on food production as our planet grows ever warmer. The first, the one with which agronomists and climate scientists have primarily been concerned, is the incremental decline in average crop yields caused by gradual increases in global temperature and changes in precipitation patterns.
As temperature rises to a certain optimal range, crop yields rise proportionally until a peak is reached, at which point, with further increases in temperature, they start to decline. Studies of rice harvests in the Philippines, for example, show that for each degree Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum during the growing season, yields of rice decrease by 10%. A similar pattern has been noted for other staples. Drops in production inevitably cause food prices to escalate. Research suggests that the average price of staples such as corn could more than double over the next twenty years, with up to half the increase due to changes in average temperatures and rainfall patterns.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
The drought currently besetting the U.S. is said to be the worst in fifty years. Engulfing some 60% of the country, it has struck deep in the midwest and plains states, a region known as the nation’s grain basket, the heart of the global food supply. The harshest blow has fallen on the corn crop, which is pivotal to the task of feeding the world. According to the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, as of July 31st, 48% of the corn crop was rated poor and only 24% good or excellent. This is extremely disheartening when compared with last year’s rating of 14% poor and 62% good or excellent. Moreover, at this late point in the summer there is no chance left for a change of fortune, and farmers’ hopes and worries have now moved on to next year’s crop.
To grasp the full significance of the drought, it’s necessary to note that the U.S. corn harvest is the most abundant source of grain in the world. According to global systems expert Lester Brown, corn accounts for four-fifths of U.S. grain production. The U.S. leads the world as an exporter of corn, and many countries depend for sustenance on a healthy American corn harvest. A disruption in our corn stocks thus sends shock waves far and wide, portending increased hunger not only this year but in years to come. Continue reading