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Sara Shallenberger's take on how worldwide food security might be achievable

$11 billion is an unfathomable amount for most people. If you made a dollar a second, it would take you almost 349 years to make that amount of money. With that same amount, you could buy 40 superyachts, each around the size of a football field, complete with furnishings and a crew. That's also the amount of money per year, for 10 years, that it would take to end world hunger.

The International Institution of Sustainable Development and the International Food Policy Research Institute estimated at the United Nations Committee of Food Security that $11 billion was the price tag to obtain worldwide food security. Food security, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, is achieved when over 95% of the population can reliably consume a healthy amount of calories.

It seems like a lot of money — 40 yachts worth of it — but in context, it's not much at all. This year's defense budget in the United States is $693 billion — the most in the world by a long shot. China, the world's second largest military spender, exhausts only about $240 billion. If the United States made yearly payments of $11 billion towards eradicating world hunger, military spending would only go down 1.6%. Granted, $11 billion is on the lower end of the cost estimate spectrum. Another study done by the International Food Policy Research institute takes into account the effects of climate change, raising the price tag to $52 billion annually. If the United States took this amount from our military budget, we'd still only be reducing it by 7.5%. Achieving 100% food security is many times more difficult than reaching the 95% goal. This is why achieving a 0% hunger rate in all countries would cost $265 billion annually, according to studies by the Food and Agriculture Organization. The American military budget would still be over 150% larger than China's, if you deducted that amount of money.

But the financial resources needed to solve world crises like hunger don't just lie in our government's military budget. Last year, Amazon reported $10 billion in profit, while Walmart reported $7 billion. Apple's profits came in at a whopping $60 billion. More surprisingly, 60 Fortune 500 companies didn't pay any federal income tax in 2018 under President Trump's tax plans, a list that includes Amazon as well as Netflix.

When you take all these statistics into account, the $11, or $52, or $265 billion dollars it takes to solve pervasive issues like world hunger doesn't seem like too high of a price, especially if the other 192 countries in the United Nations were to contribute similar percentages of their funds. The point? There are a lot of global issues, but there's also a lot of untapped power. Wouldn't it be remarkable if the United States changed its reputation from the greatest military power to the greatest humanitarian one? Or, if we used taxes from the rich to spark a global trend of contribution to humanitarian efforts? Though this scenario may seem far-fetched, it's actually quite attainable — and it's time we take the initiative to make that future a reality.


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