What will the position be later — next month, and then the month after? Taking the English seasons as a guide, spring starts on March 21, summer, on June 22.
If the cables have not exaggerated the position, then many are going to perish. And if the next harvest fails, they will number, millions. The public are often accused of a lack of ability to appreciate the meaning of large figures. It is to be suspected that those who do accuse them simply reflect their own. limitations. Thus one of our great men, speaking the other day on the grain we have harvested and which is now lying at grass, declared that it was “enough to feed all Europe.”
If every bushel could be dumped into Europe tomorrow, converted into bread, all other supplies stopped, and this served out on the basis of half a pound a day per head it would last just about six weeks.
What the public are lacking in is a knowledge of what Europe had to do for herself.
This was before the war. All that the rest of the world exporting to her ever did in the standard lines was fill a gap; and more so in Great Britain’s case than the others, it seems difficult to get the public to realise that the six Great Powers, alone probably carry 100,000,000 cattle, 130,000,000 sheep, and 100,000,000 pigs.
It is very difficult to got them to realise, that all Europe produced over 50 per cent, of the entire harvests of the earth in wheat; over 80 in rye; over 70 in barley; over 60 in oats; Though regrettably far back, we have no later complete statistics at the moment of writing than 1909. And yet the lesson is very impressive. Taking grain and potatoes, those the the figures recorded in Whittaker, 1913 edition. “Wheat.— Total world’s production, 3,645000,000 bushels; Europe’s, 1,950,000,000. Rye. — Total world’s production, 1,755,000,- 000 bushels;. Europe ‘s, 1,700,000,000. , Barley.— Total world ‘s production, 1,506,- 000,000 bushels; .Europe’s, 1,100,000,000. Oats.— Total world’s production, 4,337,000,- 000- bushels; Europe’s. 2,800,000,000. . Potatoes.— Total world’s production, 4,957, – 600,000 bushels; Europe’s, 4,500,000,000. Without being positive it is reasonable to believe that Europe has eaten a large part of her stock out, and it is just possible that the balance has been struck, more or less, with disease. And without being positive it is reasonable to believe that, apart from the labor difficulty, altogether, the soil has become impoverished, and even, in parts, tainted.
If history is going to repeat itself nothing that the outside world can do will save Europe. The United States chiefly, and other great producing countries abroad, the former by going on rations herself, may be able to pull the Western and Southern Allies through, if the next harvest is not a failure. But nothing that any could do, even if the war were to end to-morrow, and all the old facilities could be restored by a magician, would suffice to save Europe as a whole from the penalties that now are in store for,, her, with her riddled stock and impoverished soil.
Famine, if it works as before, will use a seythe of prodigious length. Pestilecnce, if it follows, as before, drive its spectral horses over roads, of its own making, heedless of obstacles.