Guest Column: An open letter to President Obama

By John Gile

Author, Editor, Journalist, Publisher

As this story shows, some truths transcend words:

NEW YORK (JG)—Stunned silence greeted President Barack Obama (D) as he entered the General Assembly of the United Nations and approached the podium, cradling in his arms the emaciated and lifeless body of a small child.

He did not speak when he reached the podium. Instead, he stood grim-faced, glaring at the shocked selfishness and greed. Behold the result of religious fanaticism and narrow nationalism.

I came here today to speak of challenges to global peace and prosperity, but the child I hold in my arms, one of more than 300,000 dying from war and hunger each week, speaks more forcefully than anything I can say,” Obama said.

In this child, behold the insanity gripping member nations of this organization who pay lip service to peace and human development, but spend trillions upon trillions of dollars each year to make more destructive bombs and more deadly bullets,” Obama continued.

In this child, behold our collective guilt,” Obama said. “Hear the questions asked by this child, by this child’s parents, and by thousands of others who die each day of hunger and its consequences: ‘Why? Why does anyone die of hunger when technology has given us the power to end hunger everywhere on the planet today?’

In this child, hear the plea from millions of other children around the world: ‘No more war; no more hunger.’

Nothing new is needed to heed their plea, except the vision and resolve in our individual nations and in our joint policies to change perverted priorities that contribute to hunger and spawn wars over food and water in many parts of the world,” Obama continued. “Consider the savagery of wars over food and water that will erupt if we cling to those perverted priorities as the world population grows from 6 billion today to 9 billion by 2050.

Today’s global insanity threatens to engulf all of us in global suicide. In this child, we behold the question, ‘Why? Why persist in choosing death over life?’

Technology available to us today in multistory crop production and other developments can provide food and drinking water far in excess of conventional production methods without pesticide and chemical pollution, without crop failure from drought and other weather problems, and without burning fossil fuels that create devastating climate changes around the world,” Obama said. “Nothing new is needed except the vision and resolve to choose life over death, to choose bread and butter over bombs and bullets.

Pausing, he bent forward and gently kissed the child’s forehead. Lifting the child above the podium, he repeated the plea:
No more war. No more hunger.

No sound was heard as he turned and carried the child from the Assembly Hall, followed by ambassadors with heads bowed. …

You never err when you focus on children in the spirit of The First Forest and Keeping First Things First:
Making life better for children makes life better for everyone. Making the world safer for children makes the world safer for everyone. Making the future brighter for children makes the future brighter for everyone.

P.S.—Elements for creating multistory crop production farms taking up a city block and capable of feeding and providing water for at least 50,000 people already exist. Greenhouses are not new. Hydroponic farming is not new. Irrigation systems are not new. Solar energy is not new. Controlled lighting, temperature, and humidity are not new. Recycling and purifying water are not new. Indoor planting beds and fields are not new. Multistory buildings are not new. What is new is simply the combination of those elements in urban settings—where 80 percent of the world’s population is projected to live by 2050.

Multistory crop production farms end pesticide and other chemical pollution problems because the controlled environment eliminates parasite and insect infestations. Multistory crop production farms end harmful agricultural runoff, which pollutes our fields and streams. Also, because the farms are indoors, they end crop failure from drought and other weather problems. In multistory crop production farms, crops can be grown year round, providing several yields instead of just one. Other advantages include elimination of strenuous labor and the burning of fossil fuels in farm equipment and in trucks. Because 40 percent of global warming is attributed to growing and distributing food, multistory crop production farms also significantly reduce global warming. At the same time, engineering construction, maintenance, and staffing of the farms create jobs and foster urban renewal. Another practical application for multistory crop production farm technology is the efficient and pollution-free production of renewable alternative energy resources to replace fossil fuels.

Cost estimates for construction of a multistory crop production farm range from $85 million to $200 million, depending on size and scope. Beyond that, billions of dollars, private and public, are projected to be invested in multistory crop production farm technology and development as the need intensifies. Investment interest in multistory crop production farm technology and development is driven by studies showing that the world’s population growth during the next four decades will require almost 60 percent more food production, yet 80 percent of the world’s tillable land already is being farmed. Current expenditures in other areas suggest multistory crop production farms are as economically viable as they are desirable. Even at the $200 million figure, the cost of a multistory crop production farm is less than we have been spending on the Iraq war every week. Our expenditures alone for war, for foreign oil, and for global entertainment and media over five years would build enough multistory crop production farms to feed more than half the population of the entire world.

Resourcefulness directed toward worthy endeavors that feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and educate every man, woman and child to live healthier, happier and more fully human lives is the essence of strong economic development that endures.

John Gile is the author of The First Forest and Keeping First Things First, and editor-in-chief at JGC Publishing in Rockford.

from the Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009 issue

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