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Unit 7 Text B A worldwide food crisis?翻译,原文和录音

[2018年11月6日] 来源:新视野大学英语Unit 7 编辑:给力英语网   字号 [] [] []  

A worldwide food crisis?


1 Historically only local governments worried about a widespread food crisis but today a sharp spike in food prices and the resulting food crisis can quickly become a worldwide phenomenon. Recent droughts along the equator and in Russia and Ukraine  two countries which account for one-fourth of world wheat exports  caused wheat prices to surge. Many worry the tight supply will cause inflationary prices. They fear the skyrocketing grain costs in 2007 which harshly struck the world's poor and led to food riots will recur.


2 Is their fear grounded? Consultancy firms measuring the status of commodities like wheat don't think so. Stocks of wheat are at sufficiently high levels and harvest turnout from other big producers like the US is expected to stay strong. So unlike in 2007 the supply situation isn't desperate meaning wheat prices should eventually calm down and level off.


3 However this rosy picture provides only temporary security. The bigger picture discloses a reality not so optimistic. Though current prices aren't as sky-high as in the panicked market of 2007 they're still at higher levels than before and are likely to stay that way. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development sees the average prices of products classified as essential such as grains vegetable oils and dairy products rising for the next decade.


4 It doesn't take an oracle to foretell that the fight to feed the world will be a huge challenge facing the global economy over the next 20 years. Food production is suffering from decades of neglect of agriculture a period when the sector was starved of the resources and technology it needed to keep up with rising world demand. Though more and more people are intrigued by the issue and there is a growing global consensus about the need for reform in farming we're really only at the beginning of a long expensive process of repairing world agricultural practices. That means food prices will stay high over the next several years as will the risk of dangerous price fluctuations like the current one with wheat.


5 Food isn't like garments or other products traded on world markets. The issue of food is filled with emotion. Intermittent uncertainty in food markets will animate people to act when they would otherwise remain calm. No country for example wants to run out of food or watch sky-high prices push people into poverty and malnourishment. That can lead to riots or even revolutions. When emotions are running high enough grain exporters and importers may take extreme measures to prevent a shortage like hoarding and panic-driven wholesale purchases. In other words the overreaction of market players will act like a pistol to the head creating a crisis when none should exist.


6 Will current prices stay high and volatile? Probably yes. There are enormous structural problems with the agriculture industry that have caused the great imbalance between supply and demand. These problems have a dual nature one part of it on the production side and the other on the consumption side.


7 On the production side global funding for rural infrastructure or technological research to keep yields growing has been very small well below what is needed to keep crises at bay and to meet our future food demands. But in the past whenever economists predicted massive shortages technological advances like higher-yield strains of wheat would overcome the difference and rescue civilizations from large-scale starvation.

8 On the consumption side citizens of wealthier countries have grown accustomed to consuming more food than they need and eating more costly types of food like meat. This means more grain gets turned into livestock feed instead of food for people. Add in the new demand for bio-fuels and you get a recipe for disaster. As an excerpt from a pamphlet by activist Peter Singer explains: " … the problem isn't that we are producing too little food; rather we're not eating the food we grow. Nearly 100 million tons of grain per year is turned into bio-fuel that goes into gas tanks. The problem is that we  the relatively affluent  have created a system of piracy where we consume four or five times as much food as would be possible if we were to actually eat the crops we grow directly."


9 How can we neutralize this problem and dodge the future crisis? The solution lies at the intersection of money and time. Councilors legislators and bureaucratic agencies of some countries like India and Senegal have had the foresight to realize this fact and are giving more subsidies to agriculture.


10 More than ever we need the appropriation of time and money away from the army and the militia and toward creating a coherent international plan to deal with hunger. We are about to rupture at the seams with the world population expected to grow by 2.3 billion between 2009 and 2050. It is estimated that feeding a population of nine billion would require a 70 percent increase in global food production between 2007 and 2050. Why such a discrepancy? The rapidly growing population not only needs more basic foods like grains but also enjoys foods higher up on the food chain like meat. They desire not only the basic essentials of life but also more sophisticated technologies like automobiles that use bio-fuels!


11 All signposts point to the need for food production in developing countries to almost double. To achieve this goal an enormous investment in agriculture from various sources is needed. Governmental agencies non-profit organizations agricultural scientists private investors and charitable donors all must partner together to build the capacity of the developing world to answer this tremendous need for food.


12 While we may not be seeing all the symptoms of a food shortage syndrome yet we must be clear-eyed in our on-going support of food production. The message is explicit: We are on a collision course. But the problem is soluble. Like climbing a staircase we must do it carefully and consistently if we are to reach our goal and prevent a global food crisis.

会有全球粮食危机吗?


在历史上,只有地方政府才会担心大范围的粮食危机,而如今,粮食价格的急剧上涨及由此导致的粮食危机会很快成为一种全球现象。最近发生在赤道沿线、俄罗斯及乌克兰的干旱使小麦价格不断飙升——俄罗斯和乌克兰两国小麦出口总量占世界出口总量的四分之一。许多人担心小麦供应短缺会引发其价格膨胀,他们害怕2007年使世界穷人遭受重创并引发食品骚乱的飞涨的粮食价格会再次出现。


他们的担心有根据吗?负责对像小麦这样的商品现状进行评估的咨询公司并不这样认为。目前小麦的储备非常充足,并且,重要农业生产国如美国等的农作物生产也有望十分强劲。所以,与2007年不同,现在粮食供应状况并不那样令人绝望,这也意味着小麦价格最终会恢复正常并平稳下来。


但是,这一美好的画面只能带来短暂的安心。更大的画面所揭示的现实不容乐观。虽然目前粮食价格没有达到2007年引起恐慌的市场上的那种天价,但和以前相比,价格仍然居高不下,而且很有可能维持这样。经济合作与发展组织认为,谷物、植物油和奶制品这些基本食品的平均价格在未来十年都将持续上涨。


未来20年,让世界上所有人都吃饱饭将是全球经济所面临的巨大挑战,这一点很明确,不需要通过行家来预言。由于过去几十年对农业的疏忽,粮食生产受到影响,而这几十年正是农业这一行业急需得到资源和技术支持以满足日益增长的世界需求的重要时期。虽然现在越来越多的人对这一问题表示出兴趣,对农业耕作进行改革的需要也获得全球越来越广泛的认同,但事实上,在修复全球农业作业这样一项耗时长、代价高的工作中,我们还只处于起步阶段。这也意味着,粮食价格在未来几年会居高不下,正如目前小麦价格波动所带来的风险也会居高不下一样。


粮食这一商品和世界市场上交易的衣服或其他商品有所不同。粮食问题是充满感情色彩的。粮食市场时断时续的不确定性会促使人们采取行动,而这种不确定性如果涉及的是其他商品,人们则会保持冷静。比如,没有哪个国家希望出现粮食短缺,眼睁睁看着粮价飞涨而使人们陷入贫穷和营养不良的困境,因为这样会引发骚乱甚至革命。当人们的情绪积聚到足够高度的时候,粮食出口商和进口商就会采取一些极端的手段,以防止粮食出现短缺。比如,他们会囤积粮食及因恐慌而大批量购买等等。换句话说,市场操纵者如果反应过度,其作用就如同指向头部的手枪,会无中生有地制造危机。


目前的价格会一直居高不下且变化不定吗?很可能会的。农业产业结构方面存在的诸多问题已经引发了供求关系的巨大失衡。这些问题具有两面性,一个是生产方面的,另一个是消费方面的。


在生产方面,全球用于乡村基础设施建设或农业技术研究以保持粮食产量持续增长的资金非常少,大大低于能够使我们避免危机、满足人类未来食品需求所必需的资金投入量。但是,在过去,一旦经济学家们预测会有大规模的粮食短缺,就会有像高产量小麦之类的技术进步来解决这一供需差异,使人类免受大规模挨饿之苦。


在消费方面,富裕国家的人们已经渐渐习惯了消耗比他们实际需求更多的食品,也习惯了吃肉等更加昂贵的食物。这就意味着更多的谷物要被变成家畜的饲料而不是成为人们的粮食。再加上对生物燃料的新需求,灾难的发生就是可能的了。正如从活动家彼得·辛格的一个手册中所节选出来的一段话所表述的那样:“……问题不是我们生产的粮食太少,而是我们没有食用我们生产出来的粮食。每年几乎有一亿吨的谷物被转变成了油箱中的生物燃料。问题是我们——相对比较富裕的国家的人——已经创建了一种强盗体系,我们所消耗掉的粮食,与我们要是直接食用我们所生产的粮食比起来,可能是其四到五倍之多。”


怎样才能化解这一问题并规避未来的风险呢?其解决办法就是通过金钱和时间的共同作用。印度、塞内加尔等一些国家的议员、立法人员及政府机构已经独具慧眼地认识到了这一事实,并且正在给予农业更多的资助。


我们现在比以往任何时候都需要把拨款和时间从军队和民兵建设方面转移到致力于创建一个有条理的解决饥饿问题的国际计划上来。我们就要在接缝处崩塌,面临食品供应与需求之间的巨大缺口,因为在2009到2050年之间,世界人口预计将增加23亿。而要让90亿人有饭吃估计需要将全球粮食产量在2007至2050年间提高70%。为什么会有如此巨大的差异呢?因为快速增长的人口所需要的不仅是像谷物之类的基本食品,他们也要享用食物链上的高端食品,比如肉类食品。他们不仅渴望生活的必需品,也渴望享受高端的技术产品,比如使用生物燃料的汽车!


所有的迹象都表明,有必要把发展中国家的粮食产量翻一番。要实现这一目标,需要各方对农业进行大规模投资。政府机构、非营利机构、农业科学家、私人投资者以及慈善捐赠者都要合作起来,增强发展中国家的生产能力,以满足全球对粮食的巨大需求。


也许,我们现在还看不到粮食短缺综合征的所有症状,但是,在对现行的粮食生产提供支持方面,我们必须目光准确。有一点很明确:我们即将面临一个大麻烦。但是,这个问题是可以解决的。如果我们要实现目标并预防全球性的粮食危机的话,和爬楼梯一样,我们必须谨慎而且坚持如一。