2008 – Eighth Grade Third Place:
Jamie Meltzer, Washington, D.C.
Is global warming the greatest challenge facing humankind?
There are many people in the United States and all over the world who
face the problem of hunger everyday. Although global warming is a
major problem in the world, and it has an adverse effect on the
environment and on human and animal life, I think that hunger is more
prevalent and is a more immediate challenge. More than half a million
children die from hunger each year and 854 million people across the
world are struggling to overcome chronic hunger and undernourishment.
The challenge we face in trying to combat hunger has existed for much
longer than the challenge of stopping global warming. Food is a basic
need, and although the world produces enough food to feed everyone, it
is shameful that people in many countries, including ours, suffer from
According to Bread for the World, an organization that tries to
combat hunger in the world, the people who are most at rish of
undernourishment are pregnant women, new mothers who breast feed
infants, and children. Almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related
causes every day – one child every five seconds. In 2005, 10.1
million children died before they reached their fifth birthday, and
more than half of these children died from causes that were related to
There are many things that contribute to most of the world's hunger.
First, poverty is the biggest cuase of hunger in the world. Poor
people don't have the resources, like land, tools, and money that are
needed to grow or buy food on a steady basis. Second, in many
countries, wars disrupt agricultural production, and governments spend
more money on weapons than on social programs. In addition, because
of discrimination, in many places people do not have access to
education, credit, and employment, and this leads to hunger. Also,
many people, especially children, women, and the elderly, do not have
the power to protect their own interests and end up hungry.
People who are struggling with chronic hunger deal with its many
devastating effects. For example, if a mother is malnourished, her
baby will be much smaller than a normal sized baby, and may die
earlier. A malnourished child will have a weak immune system, and
will be more vulnerable to infections. Children who are malnourished
often lack the strength to survive an illness, and more than two
million malnourished children die every year from dehydration caused
by diarrhea. Also, when natrual catastrophes, like drought, floods,
or earthquakes strike in some regions of the world, the poorest
families are vulnerable to these disasters and end up starving.
Chronic hunger doesn't allow children to get the nutrients, including
vitamins and minerals, that they need to grow sufficiently.
Hunger affects the health, productivity, sense of hope, and overall
well-being of people. Lack of food can stunt growth, slow thinking,
sap energy, hamper fetal development and contribute to mental
retardation. Although overcoming global warming is amajor challenge
for humankind, it does not cause millions of deaths a year and the
suffering of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
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