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If Only One Crop Fails, How Can There Be a Famine?

In the mid-19th century, when potatoes in Ireland had the “potato blight,” a massive famine followed, forever changing Irish history.

It was only the potato crop which had failed, however. During the time of the “potato famine” - between 1845-1849 - other crops were thriving. How could it be that people were starving when other crops had not failed?

Even after the potato crop no-longer had “the blight,” Irish peasants were starving and dying (if they were not leaving their homes because of evictions or emmigration). What caused this ongoing stress and disruption in their lives?

If people in a country are starving, is it likely - or not likely - that others living in that same country would turn away from the desperate needs of their countrymen? Explain your answer.

Would you have a different answer if the events were taking place in the 21st century (as opposed to the 19th century)? Why, or why not?


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