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The Myth of Money: A Short Sighted Solution to World Hunger

Written by: Elina Kayumova

Edited by: Veeraja Kamthe

Elon Musk’s refusal to spend even 2% of his income on helping 42 million people on the brink of starvation raised an important question of whether world hunger can be stopped by the injection of a large sum of money.

Some people believe that donating a significant amount of money can stop world hunger. Often, there is a misconception that green dollar bills are the cure to any and all problems. This research article attempts to resolve the question of whether money could be the force that can stop world hunger and lead humanity to a better future.

To tackle the problem, we need to first find the cause of it. In the root of world hunger lie food crises, that are caused by an array of different factors. First, the exponentially growing world population that is rapidly approaching 8 billion, can, in the near future, be a threat to scarce resources. According to UN statistics, the world makes enough to feed 10 billion people. However, if the population continues to grow with the same speed it has been during the last century, the results will be staggering, involving even more deaths caused by starvation and malnutrition. Presently, hunger kills approximately 9 million people every year, more than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined. It is also important to note that generally, the population grows more rapidly in less-developed countries due to various reasons, including a less advanced external and internal economic standing. Population growth in such places runs two or two and a half times greater than in affluent countries.

The second contributing factor to world hunger is the uneven resource distribution. According to R. Brown, author of By Bread Alone, the average North American requires five times as many agricultural resources - land, water, energy and fertilizer - as the average Indian, Nigerian or Colombian. Therefore, even though the population growth rate is smaller in affluent countries than in less-developed economies, “big” people require more resources, including food, to maintain their standard of living. It is estimated that there is around 30-40% food waste across the US - one of the leading economies of the world. Therefore, while some people in one part of the globe are suffering from starvation, other nations can afford to throw a significant portion of their food away.

Natural disasters also play a huge role in accumulating hunger around the world. While it may seem that humans have no influence on droughts or earthquakes, almost 80% of weather-related disasters are associated with climate change, which we are held accountable for. Unexpected weather conditions can result in a shortage of food and eventually lead to hunger, but, as shown by statistics, most of them do not occur as unexpectedly as it may seem.

And lastly, political and geographical conflicts may be the reason why people do not have easy access to food. For example, in 2017, 180,000 people in South Sudan were in need of food assistance because of active hostilities within the borders of their country.

As we have seen, most of the factors that affect hunger are man-made and are results of a rapidly growing population, unwise and uneven usage of food resources, mistreatment of nature, or conflicts that arise on a political level. Because it entails such a broad range of factors, hunger is a multidimensional problem that requires collaboration of professionals from numerous fields, from environmentalists to politicians. Even though there is a quicker solution - instantly providing food to those in need - it will not have a lasting effect until people unite and think over ways to sustain the population growth, distribute resources more wisely, deal with climate change, and resolve conflicts peacefully without having to take violent measures.

Now remains the question of whether money can stop world hunger and resolve all of its causes. While dollar bills can certainly provide aid to those in emergency, it can not cover, or at least fully cover, all the causes of world hunger discussed above. Food should be available to everyone, regardless of their financial or geographical status. However, the ideal reality, where everyone has enough food, can be achieved only by developing smaller economies and educating their population, changing people’s attitude towards the usage of food, putting enough effort into dealing with climate change, and finding nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts. All of these can be indirectly addressed to some degree by a huge monetary investment from Elon Musk in the short run, but the real solution lies in the collaborative effort in changing perceptions and establishing new ways of living.


Suffering from Hunger in a World of Plenty Author(s): Hilal Elver Source: Middle East Report, No. 286, SUFFERING AND THE LIMITS OF RELIEF (Spring 2018), pp. 14-17 Published by: Middle East Research and Information Project, Inc. (MERIP) Stable URL:

The World Food Problem: Can Hunger Be Conquered? Source: Great Decisions, eat Decisions (1975), pp. 1-12 Published by: Foreign Policy Association . Stable URL:

Food Waste FAQs from the official U.S. Department of Agriculture website:

TEDxPeachtree talk by Jasmine Crowe on the topic “Hunger is not a question of scarcity”.

TEDxToronto talk by Nick Saul on the topic “Why food won’t solve the problem of hunger”.

15 reasons why money won’t solve world hunger by

The paradox of hunger in the world by SOS Faim

Food program chief responds to Elon Musk's challenge on world hunger by CNN

Elon Musk talks Twitter, Tesla and how his brain works — live at TED2022 by TED

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