Famine and Cannibalism

In my news watching lifetime there have been three big famines: the Ethiopian famine of Bob Geldof fame, the Malawi famine of 2002 which was given little press, and the current Horn of Africa famine.

Despite brutal circumstances and horrible decisions to make, I haven’t heard of even a single one of the famine victims resorting to cannibalism. I’ve tried Internet searches to see if the famine and cannibalism have been linked at all and I don’t see even one rumour about it. And faced with death, I know that some people have made a different decision than these people in the past.

Turning their backs on cannibalism also occurred in the other two famines I’ve mentioned. I don’t know if this honourable behaviour in a bad situation is cultural or just shows a high moral character.

Certainly these peoples may not have been savvy enough to sock away money or food or use insurance as the more sophisticated and much wealthier developed world does. But do we in the developed world have a high moral character as these peoples do?

You see, I live in Canada, a developed country that is also home of the famous “Northwest Passage” that many explorers risked their lives for and many people lost their lives over. And of the 3 Franklin expeditions up there, two had problems with cannibalism.

Maybe this one explorer was just specially tainted. But also in American history, early Jamestown had cannibalism problems.

And we’ve all heard about seafaring people stuck in lifeboats in the middle of the ocean resorting to cannibalism.

Why is it that developed world people faced with death will make the lower moral choice of eating their own?

I’ve feared overpopulation, especially from the developing world, straining humanity’s resources past the limit. Decades ago there seemed to be no check to rising populations in the developing world. But more recently I’ve heard that the developing world is moving into cities and this movement leads to an almost stagnant birth rate. Earth’s population might actually stabilize soon.

And if it doesn’t? Well the developed world has the best weaponry and if the world ever lacks enough food to feed it, the developed world will make its same choice when faced with starvation. Cannibalism will occur but this time it won’t be of people you know. The developed world will send raiding parties into the developing world for meat.

Like always we will say that the situation forced us to.

People from the Horn of Africa could say the same. They just don’t. So why is it a stock cartoon to show the innocent explorers being cooked for the hungry dark skinned people? The reverse seems even more likely.


“Franklin, I’m thinking that instead of lugging this 1000 pound pot around, we could have just brought 1000 pounds of meat.”

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet. Now in the Fediverse as @admin@larryrusswurm.org
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