Watching the World
Population and Food
◆ African nations have increased food production about 22 percent since the early 1960’s. Then why the famine? One reason is that population increase drove already inadequate food consumption per person down 5 percent during the same period. Another reason is the severe drought that parts of Africa have experienced in recent years. “The only certain means of guaranteeing that the present catastrophe will not repeat itself lies with population control rather than with food supplies,” reports Time magazine. But the U.N.’s August and November conferences on population and food face the grim fact that “between now and the time they begin their deliberations, the world’s population will have increased by 30 million.”—May 13, 1974.
“Every Country for Itself”?
◆ The director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) now says that “by the middle of the year  reserve food stocks will probably equal only three weeks world food consumption.” Another FAO official adds: “One big crop failure anywhere and it could be every country for itself.” But even if a country has grain, sometimes it becomes “every man for himself.” Time magazine reports that in some famine-stricken countries “officials have diverted some of the donated grain to commercial channels for sale at enormous profits. Much . . . remains heaped high on the docks where it is prey to rats, locusts and thieves.” U.N. Secretary-General Waldheim says “the governments told me they cannot ship it to the areas most afflicted” because of lack of roads and vehicles.
Outlook for Sharing
◆ Will U.S. food producers answer the world’s growing demand? Farm Journal editor Lane Palmer addressed a group of American agricultural editors and congressmen recently, saying that “our farmers can produce whatever food this country needs. I’m well aware of the famine . . . and of hunger elsewhere around the world. But I’m assuming that none of us any longer harbors the illusion that we can underwrite the world’s food security.” Why not? One reason is U.S. farm economics. The National Farmers Union secretary candidly told a Senate subcommittee that “many farmers view permanent scarcity of food as a goal that would be appropriate to their self-interest.”
Food or Golf Courses?
◆ Just about enough fertilizer to supply this year’s shortage in the world’s poorer countries will be spread by Americans on their lawns, cemeteries and golf courses. Making this point recently to a Senate subcommittee, president of the Overseas Development Council James P. Grant said that “people in the United States should know that the way we eat—and fertilize our lawns—is affecting lives everywhere.”
◆ What people throw away can be very revealing. Anthropologist William Rathje says: “What you find in garbage is the result of what people actually did, not what they think they did . . . or wish they did.” He directed a group of University of Arizona teachers and students in a project that went through garbage from various economic areas of Tucson. One finding of their careful inspection was that white households there waste more than minorities. “Cutting down on beef waste alone could possibly save more than 100 dollars a year for a middle-class household,” Rathje notes.
Oil Consumption Record
◆ Oil embargoes and production cutbacks last year did not stop the flow from reaching record levels. Consumption was up over 7 percent and production almost 9 percent over 1972, according to the British Petroleum Statistical Review. The United States alone used almost a third of the total.
Whole Blood “Unjustifiable”
◆ A recent medical bulletin to hospitals receiving blood from the German Red Cross advises: “For several years observations have been made . . . with regard to the use of so-called ‘whole blood’ for therapeutic purposes, which, because of the many avoidable side effects, seem to make its further use unjustifiable. . . . Sad to say there is no way to avoid a possible syphilis infection when using fresh blood.” Noting that the responsibility for undesirable reactions “can be put upon the blood donation service,” the German Red Cross says, “we will—as other blood donation services have already done . . . deliver no more whole blood.”
Churches or Homes?
◆ Rome’s priests continue to lash out against the Hierarchy’s traditional ties with the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor. A pamphlet circulated by “lay people, and priests of the St. Leo the Great Parish” complains: “For 25 years now we have worried about building churches which no one wants. . . . so many billions [of lire] were spent that it would have been enough to give a house to all people living in huts. . . . Are we allowed to pray to God in these temples built with the hire of a prostitute’? (Mic. 1:7)”
Naples’ Empty Cathedrals
◆ The Italian newspaper Vita d’Oggi asks: “Where are the faithful of these splendid churches, which were artistically built and decorated, at very great expense, just to be empty of souls as everyone can witness today?” It has been estimated that ‘if even 10 percent of Neapolitans attended Mass, all the (still open) churches in the archdiocese would not be enough to contain them.’ Why are they “empty”? “It is very certain that everyone is ignorant of Christian doctrine . . . one must conclude that religious ignorance is motivated by the lacking vitality of Neapolitan Catholic education.”
Outlook for Economics
◆ Seventeen of the 24 industrial nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development are now suffering two-digit inflation (over 10 percent). The average annual rate for all is 12 percent, compared with just 3 percent during the 1960’s—four times as much! Columnist Joseph Alsop writes that the “wisest and most conservative men in the economic and financial communities have begun to talk helplessly about the threat of an onrushing, worldwide financial calamity.” Typical is the comment of the governor of the German Bundesbank, Karl Klasen: “Living with inflation would mean that our free enterprise system will die with inflation.”
◆ “We are literally fighting to survive,” says the prime minister of Sri Lanka’s 13 million people. The spiraling cost of food imports has left income from tea and rubber exports about $2 billion behind, making it increasingly hard to get loans. Now the nation, whose population has doubled in the last twenty-five years, is badly in need of rice and wheat. Says an economist: “The country is now operating on a week-to-week basis. . . . We don’t think beyond the week. We can’t.”
Belief in Devil Grows
◆ That fact shocked scientists at the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The number of Americans believing rose from 37 to 48 percent in nine years, they were told, with another 20 percent believing the Devil’s existence is probable. Scientists had thought that the evolutionary process and rationalism would gradually eliminate such beliefs. The researcher linked the belief to ‘times of great stress, where things seem to be falling apart.’ A recent Harris survey reports that an even higher figure, 53 percent, believe in the Devil and over a third in demon possession.
◆ The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission recently released a chilling study about the “large and growing” danger of terrorists’ stealing radioactive material to manufacture “simple” homemade atomic bombs. Expert testimony from Theodore B. Taylor, designer of the world’s smallest fission bomb, is the basis for this warning.
U.S. Catholic Decline—Why?
◆ The latest Official Catholic Directory reports the following one-year net decreases for the U.S. church: Priests, 200; nuns, 3,000; seminarians, 2,400 (a 61-percent drop from 1965); schools, 236; enrollment, 185,000. Church attendance dropped 21 percent. Why the decline? U.S. News and World Report found that “some feel the Church has lost its ‘air of mystery’ or ‘promise of peace and solace,’” due to the changes of the 1960’s. Says one priest: “If the things the Church has said in the last ten years are true, then everything it said for the last 2,000 years is false.”
Soviet Crop Damage
◆ Russian crops are suffering pest damage amounting to more than $12 billion a year, estimates the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture. Pravda complains that new high-yield wheat strains lack pest resistance. “In twenty years’ time, the harvests from our fields have doubled, while expenses on their protection [from pests] have gone up ten times.”
◆ The United States is not alone in having a far higher crime rate than is actually reported. A new study shows that two thirds of the crimes in Sydney, Australia, go unreported. One family in four contains a crime victim. The study claimed that assaults on people are five times the number for any U.S. city with similar population. As in the U.S., “the overwhelming reason why the crimes went unreported was lack of confidence in the ability of police to do anything about them,” says The Australian.
Facts of Business Life
◆ What kind of environment do young people entering the U.S. business world face? Norman Jaspan, head of a New York management consultant firm, recently revealed that their chances of encountering ‘sizable dishonesty’ among any corporation’s personnel are greater than 50 percent. A 75-percent chance of ‘costly malpractice,’ such as wasting paid time, also awaits. He adds that kickbacks, bribes and conflicts of interest are now a dominant factor in business. Does this affect employees? “Employee dishonesty . . . is growing at the rate of 15 per cent a year.”
◆ Babies born in 1974 are more likely to be murdered than an American soldier in World War II was likely to die in combat! Applied mathematics instructor Dr. Arnold Barnett of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology determined this from his studies projecting the rapidly rising U.S. murder rate into the future. He says that the commonly held idea that population growth is the reason for the spiraling murder rate is inadequate. It accounts for “less than one-tenth” of the increase that actually occurred from 1962 to 1972.
Beliefs Hinder Medicine
◆ Doctors have worked hard to try to conquer tropical diseases. Many things have hampered their efforts, such as ignorance, poor nutrition and lack of hygiene. One problem, often overlooked, is people’s beliefs. Says tropical disease expert Hildrus Poindexter of Howard University: “A common belief among many rural Vietnamese is that soil, even if polluted with human feces, cannot hurt people, because the soil is part of man. In Africa, childhood illnesses are often attributed to foul play rather than to infectious diseases, so parents seek the help of a witch doctor rather than that of a physician.”
◆ A recent survey of the world’s 14,000 Capuchin monks shocked the Vatican. Nearly a third of the “sheltered” monks indicated that they would welcome intimate relations with the opposite sex. That proportion also approved of violence, if necessary, to “promote social justice.” Four fifths of them believed that working is a better way of making a living than the Capuchin traditional begging.