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January 11, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-11

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4

OPINION
Page 4 Friday, January 11, 1985 The Michigan Doily

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Facing the African famine

Vol. XCV, No. 83

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Book wars

F or those of you who haven't heard
there is a new bookstore in town
-the Michigan Union Bookstore
operated by the New York firm of Bar-
nes and Noble. Like any business
breaking into a competitive market,
the union bookstore has beveloped a
strategy for survival. Barnes and
Noble hopes to use its strategic
location in the newly renovated
Michigan Union basement to draw
students away from the well-
established competition. The new kid
on the block has quite a task on its han-
ds, though. When it comes to
bookstores in Ann Arbor, two's com-
pany, but three's a crowd. Hopefully,
however, adding another textbook
competitor to the market will result in
lower prices for students during book
rush.
Competition for the student book
market has a history of weeding out
those stores which can't stand the heat.
This natural selection process forced
the well-established Follett's
Bookstore out of the textbook market
in 1982. Survival of the fittest and,
more importantly, survival of the
cheapest is the law by which Ann Ar-

bor textbook retailers must abide. Of
course, history doesn't always repeat
itself , and only the outcome of the en-
suing book rush will determine
whether the new store has earned a
postion in the textbook market.
The Union is obviously a convenient
location for a bookstore. The Barnes
and Noble management decided at fir-
st that the store's convenience - at the
center of a frozen campus - would be
enough to entice students into paying
higher prices during bookrush. But the
new store quickly felt the heat of com-
petition. Now that all the bookstores in
town have done their preliminary
price-snooping, the Union bookstore
has decided to follow suit with lower
prices.
A good book war is just what Ann
Arbor needs. Student preferences may
play a role in the future success of the
"big three". While Ulrich's and the
Union send their hired hands to the
stacks to get your books, U-Cellar lets
you rummage through the shelves on
your own. Whatever the service,
though, if the prices stay competitive,
the stage s set for a battle.

By Susan Krohn
Disaster in Ethiopia may prove to be a
modern-day "shot heard around the world."
Certainly man countries are offering
emergency aid, though belatedly. Yet this
beleaguered nation's- recovery and future
subsistence even now require world-wide at-
tention, for Ethiopia's government found it-
self unable to forestall impending tragedy,
and was paralyzed by the stunning impact of
its arrival. In the United States too, we were
shocked while formerly comparatively casual
about endemic world hunger.
Recently we read of possible high-
technology solutions to shortages of water
supply.hWhile water is essential to viability,
total hunger has multitudinous causes, all
traceable to high population density on
marginal lands. Thus exporting high-
technology to third world nations is not unlike
sending them food-stuffs: useful, humane,
necessary and insufficient. Comprehen-
sively, family planning must be provided
even as food and water are supplied by good
neighbors around the world.
By whatever means we may try to make
even renewable earth resources available to
ever-burgeoning populations, dislocations of
supply will reproduce the agony of Ethiopia if
unlimited human reproduction persists.
Nature's own planning, starvation, is what we
helplessly witnessed, helped to limit, and now
seek to prevent in the future. Barbaric and
revolting, this form of population control
must be supplanted by civilized balancing of
nation's burdens of mankind to their
sustainable resources, both human and
material. Small islands as Great Britain and
Japan do comparatively well because of the
strength of their people as producers in the
industrial world. Large countries as China
find that their numbers can be contained by
means short of wide-spread famine.
Requirements for balance of the world's
people with respect to Earth's capacity to be
their gracious host are illuminated by
distinguished authors. Edward Wilson,
writing in Biophilia, has conservatively
estimated that the current extinction rate of
plants and animals is one thousand species a
year, mostly from the destruction of key
habitats. By 1990, extinction will overtake
more then ten thousand species a year (one
species per hour). In the next thirty years,
one million species could be erased. At the
very least, business and aid groups should
make environmental impact studies on the
areas of proposed projects.
We, as a species have the power to
eradicate the habitats and thereby the lives of
all other creatures. Care must be taken to
preserve other kinds as we are dependent on
them to preserve our own. Sixty percent of
our discoveries of medicines have been
derived from plants. Ethiopia itself has lost
four-fifths of its original forests. It was only
through a rust-resistant strain of coffee
discovered in the germ plasm of Ethiopian
forests that Brazilian coffee was saved. Thus
Americans were spared the one dollar cup of
coffee. For many more important reasons,
plants and animals of the world should be left
to their own ranges.
In facing famine, there are more problems
under the surface than the simple problems of
food. William and Paul Paddock reported in
Famine 1975 that technological fixes offer a
quick but false hope and have not been
satisfactory in the long run. A multitude of
problems faces the recipient countries as well
as their benefactors, not the least of which are
financial. Using past famines as indicators,
we find a moderate-sized group of private
organizations or businesses benefitting, via
investment, from famines at increasing bur-
den to taxpayers of donor countries. These
authors state that advances for poor nations
"have been extended principally in long-term
low-interest loans. The result is a rapidly
growing loan burden which is already beyond
the abilities of most of these nations. The
necessity for the company to make a profit,
even a minor one, in an altruistic program

I
E

4

Associated Press
This Ethiopian desert represents an ecological problem at the heart of the famine in Africa.

No beards, no unions

O nce again the Reagan administration
has shown its insensitivity to the
concerns of organized labor. Last
week, its commitee overseeing the
inauguial festvities purchased an ad in
the trade publication Backstage which
called for 200 "non-union musical
theater performers"
There is no firm business reason for
the commitee to have wanted only non-
union employees. Rather, the call is
indicative of the Reagan ad-
ministration's consistent attempts to
undermine organized labor's effec-
tiveness.
Throughout Reagan's first term, the
National Labor Relations Board has
frequently delivered anti-union
decisions on matters such as the flight
of industry from unionized areas. Also,
during the Professional Air Traffic
Controllers Strike in 1981, Reagan
authorized the use of military person-
nel to serve as strike breakers. The

union lost the strike and was sub-
sequently dissolved.
But the inauguration incident has its
own ironic characteristics which make
it stand out from Reagan's past labor
slights.
For one, Reagan himself was
president of the Screen Actors Guild,
the union most affected by the call for
non-union actors. It seems patently
ironic that his administration would be
trying to undercut the union that he
directed from 1949 to 1960.
For another, the incident further
illustrates the Reagan ad-
ministration's idea of a "True
American". The ad requested that the
200 performers be "clean-cut, all-
American" types.
Apparently, the administration feels
that bearded men are not entirely
American; news which undoubtedly
would have shocked Abraham Lincoln.

creates a weakness that too often cannot be
overcome."
Given our own massive budget-deficit, we
can ill afford to give with no promise of an end
in sight. Any food or technological aid should
be given contingent on plans that will make
nations self-reliant in the future, while
respecting the rights of all other species and
the limits of the earth. This may obviously be
translated into concurrently giving aid in areas
of family planning and insistence on gover-
nment backed policies for the same objec-
tives.
Specifically addressing the problems of
water irrigation, we in the United States
already face a difficult problem along the
West Coast where the aquifer is becoming in-
creasingly saline under intensive watering of
the desert. Studies are under way on siltation,
salt, drainage, and ecological balance. The
same problems around the world are outlined
in Losing Ground by Erik Eckholm. The basic
conclusion Eckholm reaches is that "the ex-
pected benefits of irrigation projects may
never materialize, if more heed is not paid to
the overall ecological balance. The great burst
in world irrigation projects during the third
quarter of this century cannot be repeated
during the last quarter. As the need for fresh
water grows faster than its availability, the
insidious loss of irrigation capacity to salt and
silt is sure to become more visible."
Since pointing out difficulties with
irrigation at home, we might look further at
the impact of our way of life on world resour-
ces. Rather surprisingly our appetites can be
found as the reason for loss of untold hectares
of tropical rain forest upon which the world
depends for renewal of its oxygen supply.
Woodlands are sacrificed to provide grazing
for beef cattle. Burn-off of forest supplies ash
for grasses, but by the end of two years the
demineralized land became useless for any
contribution to human good. According to
State of the World-1984 published by World-
watch Institute, grazing land in Central
America more than doubled between 1961 and
1978, while wooded land diminished by 39 per-
cent. "U.S. demand for beef has fostered con-
siderable conversion of forest to pasture. A
little over two decades ago, the United States
imported only 2,000 tons of beef. By 1978 beef
imports had risen to 100,000 tons and six out of
the seven beef exporting Central American
countries were sending as much as 85 to 90
percent of their total beef exports to the
United States. Much of that beef feeds the

growing demands of the U.S. fast food outlets.
Fash food chains can offer low-priced ham-
burgers by using beef raised by low-cost labor
on converted forestlands in Central
America." In The Primary Source, we read
that "In 1960 an average American consumed
well under 40 kilograms of beef each year, a
total that rose by 1976 to well over 60
kilograms. Americansenow eatrless beef per
person, but because of our expanding
population, the overall total continues to edge
upward." Thus our own increase in numbers
additionally taxes worldwide food resources.
More on this subject may be found in Building
A Sustainable Society by Lester Brown.
As we enjoy our bounty, we have an
altruistic affection for the rest of the world.
Mrs. Ray Kroc, heiress to the McDonald
franchise fortune, and a truly philanthropic
person has sent one million dollars to aid
Ethiopia. While it is ironic that these funds
became available as the result of the
foregoing rapacious use of poorly arable lan-
as, we all share the American way of enjoying
our burgers and'applaud the magnanimity of
everyone who tries to help to the extent that
they can, and in whatever waythey can.
The business of survival goes on as a power-
ful force. We can learn from the devastation
of Ethiopia on the one hand and the success of
China on the other as the latter practices
limitation of growth of population. By giving
more attention to writers as quoted above on
saving the planet for future generations, we
can see how to assist even third-world nations
to practice family planning. The majority
opinion is listened to by political leaders in a
democracy. Other nations may follow our
lead in population policies. We hope that the
Ethiopian nightmare is final and will not be
repeated. If it occurs again there or
elsewhere or in greater severity, it will tell us
the same message once more.
How rapidly and successfully this latest ex-
plosion of death and suffering awakens the
world to better manage its stewardship of they
globe will determine how many times the oc--
cupants of this planet still need to be wren-
ched back to reality by more of the same.
Krohn is a graduate of the University in
religion and holds a masters degree in
community medicine from Wayne State
University.

..2

LETTERS TO THE DAILY
Birdsall's research should be continued,

i

To the Daily
Recently, attempts have been
made to discontinue Engineering
Prof. Theodore Birdsall's resear-
ch on underwater acoustics based
on the fact that it has applications
to naval warfare and that it was
partially funded by the Navy.
Fortunately, as this research has
other applications, Professor
Birdsall's proposal to continue
the research was approved.
An oft repeated complaint is
that Professor Birdsall is being
funded by the Navy and is using
naval research facilities. Even if
"the Navy is not funding this
classified research for its civilian
applications," the funding pays
for research of civilian, as well as
military, applications (which
. -.L .... L 1 e ---- . : - 1- &L. Y

plications, perhaps the average
person does not feel that they are
important, as they probably will
not seem to affect our everyday
life. But suppose there was
research that did. For example, a
University chemist might be
working on a new, lighter, and
stronger metal alloy. This alloy
could be used to make stronger
ships, planes, and tanks and the
research on it might be funded by
one of the armed forces. Some
might argue that this research
has "obvious applications" to
various forms of warfare.
However, in doing so, they would
be ignoring the fact that such an
BLOOM COUNTY

alloy would also make safer and
more fuel efficient automobiles.
As long as research has
beneficial applications and does

not itself harm human life, it
should be allowed to continue.
-Charles Lipsig
January 10

Letters to the Daily should be typed, triple-
spaced, and signed by the individual authors.
Names will be withheld only in unusual circum-
stances. Letters may be edited for clarity, gram-
mar, and spelling.

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by Berke Breathed

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