Stephen Taylor: Give to make a difference

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LIKE everyone else I have been left speechless as the television news showed the devastation of Japan by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The scenes of the large wave carrying before it houses, boats, cars and thousands upon thousands of tons of rubbish were like some futuristic apocalyptic movie.

In poorly-developed areas the long-term polluting effects of a tsunami would be minimal once the land had settled down, but in this highly-developed part of the world I can’t begin to imagine how the land will recover.

The Japanese agricultural economy prided itself on being self sufficient for generations and its isolationist policy meant that most of its population were vegetarian, as they had no large-scale animal farming.

The topography of this mountainous country meant that their land had to be managed carefully to ensure that the right balance of housing and farm land, so all could be fed.

The plentiful supplies of fish ensured a healthy diet for most of the population and although they now do import meat from places like New Zealand, a very high proportion of the population are still non-meat eaters.

With the crop failures elsewhere in the world and the high volume of U.S. cereal crops being given over to fuel creation and countries like China now being a net importing country, one fears for our world being able to feed itself without some better strategic management of its space.

THIS Friday is Comic Relief day and more than ever we need to give a bit to help the poorest on the planet.

Although highly visible on our TVs, we see the sudden devastation in Japan claiming tens-of-thousands-of lives.

However, we don’t see the consequences of the failure of the rains in sub-Saharan Africa which will claim hundreds-of-thousands-of lives.

We have seen the effects of floods in Australia which killed people and wreaked the crop-growing capacity of a small part of the country.

Much less well publicised were the floods at the same time in Sri Lanka, which killed a similar number of people, but also 240,000 livestock and they lost quarter-of-a-million acres of agricultural land and 21 per cent of their rice crop.

Save the Children claim that 400,000 children in that country face a food shortage.

LESS than a year ago we were shocked by the devastation of the slow-moving flood through Pakistan, but the rebuilding of the those communities slows down once the media’s eyes are turned elsewhere.

Thankfully, the eyes of Comic Relief use different criteria to seek out and assist the most needy and their outstanding engagement with slum dwellers has shown the transforming possibilities of what donations can achieve.

We need to look out for ways of supporting those whose food supply has been taken away from them.

Comic Relief is one such way, so this Friday, although our capacity to be generous may have been reduced by our own countries economic downturn; do give something, and with all the other somethings, it will make a difference.