The Gordian Knot of World Hunger: Elon Musk Considers Contributing $6 Billion in Tesla Stock Proceeds



The Gordian Knot of World Hunger: Elon Musk Considers Contributing $6 Billion in Tesla Stock Proceeds

People who need food the most don't have continued access to it. 

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss


Families who struggle with chronic hunger and malnutrition are caught in a dangerous cycle they cannot easily escape. For the chronically hungry poor, this problem continues from one generation to the next. World hunger is a "Gordian Knot" – so complex and intertwined that it requires the ability to "think outside the box" to find a solution.

Chronic poverty, lack of purchasing power, natural disasters, climate change, lack of infrastructure, and frequent war and displacement define world hunger. These issues make systemic world hunger such an intractable problem, and COVID has only made it worse.


The number of people on the "brink of starvation" doubled during the COVID pandemic

Of the 2,755 billionaires globally, 86% of them became wealthier than they were one year earlier. One repeat achiever of that three-comma club is Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has a net worth of $311 billion. Last week, Musk challenged the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to explain how 2% of his wealth could solve world hunger.

David Beasley, the UN's World Food Programme director, called on billionaires to donate a small percentage of their wealth to help an immediate crisis. Beasley claimed that 42 million people were "literally going to die if we don't reach them." He added that $6 billion would solve the current hunger crisis.

Musk responded to Beasley's comments promising to donate Tesla stock proceeds if the UN could prove that a small percentage of his wealth could save those tens of millions of lives.

One Twitter user asserted that $6 billion would be 2% of Musk's net worth. On Sunday, Musk replied by saying that if the UN WFP could describe "exactly" how the donation would solve world hunger, he would "sell Tesla stock right now and do it."

While the $6 billion figure wouldn't completely solve world hunger, Beasley said it "WILL prevent global political instability, mass migration and save 42 million people on the brink of starvation."

According to a UN report, hunger reached a 15-year high in 2020. Solving it requires only a small group of billionaires willing to donate a tiny fraction of their wealth.


Only one eccentric billionaire - Elon Musk – is ready to meet the challenge

Musk tweeted to Beasley that the UN's process must be based on open-source accounting, so the public sees precisely how the money is spent. "Please publish your current & proposed spending in detail so people can see exactly where (the) money goes," Musk said. He continued by saying "Sunlight is a wonderful thing."


Zero Hunger by 2030

Hunger is a debilitating crisis that has more than 821 million people in its grip. It's more than just missing a meal. Malnutrition and undernutrition remain a significant barrier to sustainable development. Those impacted the most are women and children, especially girls. In fact this group makes up sixty percent of the world’s hungry.

A global movement supporting the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 is led by the Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC).


The 2030 ZHC Agenda comprises five elements

  • Make all food systems sustainable from production to consumption.
  • Ending rural poverty will require a determined effort to increase the incomes of the small-scale producers.
  • Minimizing food losses during production, storage and transport, and waste of food by retailers and consumers.
  • Address poverty and inequality and build peoples' resilience to shocks and stresses.
  • Put an end to malnutrition and undernutrition in all its forms. Malnutrition is both a driver and an outcome of poverty and inequality.


The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations. Founded in 1961, it is headquartered in Rome and has offices in 80 countries. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization, and the largest one focused on hunger and food security.

The WFP says famine is declared when malnutrition is widespread. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death.

To help save lives, the organization employs an emergency food assistance plan. The group says its largest-ever scale-up of food assistance was in Yemen, aiding 1 million people in 2015 to nearly 13 million in 2019. This effort was critical in helping avert famine in Yemen.


“Hunger is the first element of self-discipline. If you can control what you eat and drink, you can control everything else.”

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah



© 2021 Mark Zuleger-Thyss, Garden of Healing. All rights reserved.

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