Elon Musk has 6 billion ways to end world hunger


This is an open letter to Elon Musk, who recently made an announcement declaring he would spend 6 billion of his own dollars if someone were to hand him a plan to end world hunger.

Many have called this nothing more than a publicity stunt, but I am taking you, Elon Musk, at your word. And here is what you can do today to help end world hunger.

First, let’s look at the two reasons why people go hungry in this world, because not all poverty is created equal. There are those who go hungry in nations where there are enough resources for everyone, and those who go hungry in impoverished regions where there is not enough to go around.

As an engineer, you must have heard this phrase many times: “We do not look for solutions, we look for problems.” And the problem in wealthy nations that have enough resources is a poor allocation of those resources.

According to Feeding America, 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States every year. Feeding America has made it its mission to rescue this wasted food and distribute it to the approximately 38 million people who go hungry in the United States.

In 2020 alone, Feeding America rescued 4 billion pounds of groceries — that’s 100 pounds of groceries a year per individual who goes hungry. Of course, being a charitable organization, Feeding America does not have unlimited resources at its disposal to ensure the food gets to everyone who is starving.

As a billionaire in the transportation industry — one who is willing to spend $6 billion to end hunger — why not help ensure that the rescued food is equitably distributed across our country? Moreover, if you can ship food to space, you can ship it across the country.

Feeding America isn’t the only charity that exists to end hunger. Pick any of them.

Hunger in impoverished regions where there isn’t enough to go around is a more complicated issue, and cannot be solved by simply shipping large quantities of food on a regular basis to areas where it is needed. Well, it could, but it is not a feasible — or permanent — solution to the problem.

Instead, allow me to propose a simple idea that may cost $6 billion, but would create a near-permanent solution to end world hunger: hydroponics.

Hydroponics allow produce to be grown in places that lack nutrient-rich soil, and many urban farms use this cultivation technique. A great example of hydroponics is Vertical Harvest Farms in Wyoming. Of course, building urban farms and knowing where they are needed is not an easy task, but here are some suggestions on how it can be done.

First, you will need to design and build the facilities of these hydroponic farms. For this, I recommend Engineers Without Borders, a charity that specializes in building infrastructure in impoverished regions. As for the regular supply of chemicals needed for hydroponics, did you know that they can be found in fish waste?

So if these hydroponic farms doubled as tilapia breeding facilities, they would not need regular shipments of chemicals. The only thing these facilities would need regular shipments of is fresh water.

As the chief executive of a rocket company, you clearly know how reliant our society is on large oil pipelines that span across continents.

Would it be so difficult to make a cross-continental pipeline of water instead?

In regards to fresh water sources, our planet is 70 percent water, so buy a few thousand desalination machines — or even build a plant if you are struggling to find fresh water sources.

Lastly, if you need to know where to build these facilities, I suggest checking out the United Nations World Food Programme.

Finally, Mr. Musk, if you care about ending world hunger and aren’t doing this as a publicity stunt, then do not wait for someone to hand you a plan.

No one is going to hand you a singular plan that will end world hunger — not because it’s impossible, but because there are a ridiculous number of them already being implemented across the world.

You can start making the world a better place today by distributing $6 billion to any of the many charities that already exist and are working toward fighting this issue.

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Jonah Eisman,