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April 24th, 2008
06:23 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: We almost didn’t make it

Erica Hill
360° Correspondent

Who knew the human race was *this close* to being extinct?

Turns out, there was a day when there were only a couple thousand humans left…and we almost didn’t make it. But in the early Stone Age, the tide shifted.

Tens of thousands of years later, how could anyone know the human race was nearly wiped out?
Click here to find out.
I can’t stop blogging about the food crisis because if you haven’t felt the effects already, trust me, they’re not far off.

I spoke to the San Francisco Food Bank this afternoon, and the numbers are not encouraging. I was told the food shortage and economic situation in general are definitely being felt at this organization. Number one, Marguerite Nowak from the SF Food Bank tells me, there are more families in need. In the past year, the number of people they serve has jumped form 118,000 to 124,000.

But to handle that increased demand, there is actually a shrinking supply. Nowak tells me the Food Bank’s prices are going up – which we can all relate to – while donations are going down. Manufacturing costs are on the rise – which is why we pay more for some items – and the businesses they deal with have had to cut back on what they can offer. As for those cost increases, Nowak told me where last year a dozen eggs cost them 75cents, this year they’re $1.50. Sobering...

You know I like to leave with you some inspiration… today it comes in from Dr. Lorna Stuart, a CNN Hero. She left her private practice to care for the uninsured. Today, along with more than 100 volunteers – 20 of whom are retired and practicing doctors – Dr Stuart’s clinic sees more than 800 patients per month, some paying as little as 50 cents for their visit.


Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Christina, Windber, PA

    Hey Erica
    I also think CNN should do a program about all that's going wrong; but not just here in the US. I think these problems are all around the world.

    I am glad we are here too. It's the good that the human race has survivied; otherwise we wouldn't have Anderson and you to tell us what's going on in the world. And we wouldn't have Anderson to make us smile. That is really a sobering thought!

    Have a great weekend!

    April 25, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  2. Sean in Dallas

    Great read Erica! The food shortage is sorta scary! And the fact that the need for food assistance is growing while global shortages of food continue to move toward gravely dire straits is even scarier! Trickle down economics has now become trickle up poverty and nobody is immune! It's never been easier to go from riches to rags. I guess I should max out on my rice limit on my next trip to Costco! The only silver lining is that crisis brings out people like Dr. Stuart and her volunteers.

    Have a great weekend!

    -Sean

    April 25, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  3. EJ - Ohio

    "Erica, could CNN do a show that covers all the things that are going wrong in the US?"

    I thought they do this every day.

    April 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  4. EJ - Ohio

    "You know I like to leave with you some inspiration… today it comes in from Dr. Lorna Stuart, a CNN Hero. She left her private practice to care for the uninsured. Today, along with more than 100 volunteers – 20 of whom are retired and practicing doctors – Dr Stuart’s clinic sees more than 800 patients per month, some paying as little as 50 cents for their visit. "

    I saw that hero segment on CNN this morning.

    I actually visited that clinic as a grad student a few years ago when I lived in PA!!

    It was after 2 years of not knowing where to go without insurance. I was so grateful that I promised myself I would make a donation later on when I found a good job. Too bad I don't have a job currently but I will still remember that clinic in PA and will donate when I finally have a job and some savings.

    I still have the black & white flyer from The Clinic and it is such a fabulous idea. I think I paid $35 for my visit.

    That woman is awesome!!! Thank you for featuring her and her clinic.

    April 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  5. Missy

    In response to J. Robinson – I hope with that comment that you're not repopulating the world. If you are, then you're a hypocrite.

    April 25, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  6. Taj

    Today we have 6.6 Billion people in this world. Population growth is very exponential & before we know it it will be 8 to 9 Billion.We certainly have food shortage today especially in underdeveloped & poor countries like Africa, India, China, N.Korea to name a few. Food prices have shot up very quickly even in the developed countries like US & affordability is getting less & less. Using food like corn to make fuel to run automobiles will make it worse. This world needs a good plan very fast and if not people will starve to death. We need a very compehensive plan to cut population growth in countries like India, Pakistan, China, African countries & many other. We need to stop using food to produce fuel, cut down automobiles & favour mass transit system all around the world. You journalists have a very important responsibility to take a very active part to achive these goals. Please help us to acive these goals.

    April 25, 2008 at 1:49 pm |
  7. Mike from Syracuse NY

    Erica,
    I recently saw a show on the History channel about what would happen to the Earth if all 6.5 billion humans just disappeared one day. After about 100 years, most of the damage caused by us would be gone, and after 200 years, very few signs of humanity would remain. The Earth would basically revert to the garden it once was. With all the advances in medical care, the Eath's population is growing (or has grown) beyond a sustainable level. We need ZPG initiatives now, starting with those areas that are least able to support themselves now. Although China has used draconian methods to enforce it, their one-child-per-family concept is the way to go. Unfortunately the very areas that need ZPG most have cultures that drive the highest birth rates.

    April 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  8. Justin, Chicago

    Let them eat cake.

    April 25, 2008 at 11:11 am |
  9. fearingfearitself

    I really appreciate that you paint this situation as hopeful, Erica. So many people are quick to tell us how horrible it is, without showing the light that's always there. And then people cloister themselves, resulting in their not only refusing to help others, but also closing themselves to the basic human need of community.

    I have to admit, though, that I'm a little afraid of what climate change is going to do to food prices.

    April 25, 2008 at 10:39 am |
  10. damaris

    I'm just happy we are still here.
    Great show tonight!

    April 25, 2008 at 2:25 am |
  11. Gwen from NJ

    Erica, could CNN do a show that covers all the things that are going wrong in the US? I believe we are on the brink of a depression. The economic indicators are all there, but no one wants to admit it. Just like no one wants to admit US has been wrong in many areas lately.

    April 24, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  12. Kathy, Chicago

    I checked out the rice crisis in Costco today. There was no sign limiting bags, in our local Costco, but the shelves were half empty. I wonder if people are trying to hoard food. One thing I loved about Italy was the potted vegetables on everyones porches. I grow my own herbs and a few vegetables in my garden, but people can put a tomato in a pot and put it in a window or on a deck. You don't need a lot of space to grow a few things.

    April 24, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  13. J Robinson

    It's a shame we survived.. This earth would be so much better off without humans.

    April 24, 2008 at 8:56 pm |
  14. Annie Kate

    In the middle ages the human population was pretty high but then bubonic plague or the "Black Death" as it was called then killed a very large proportion of the people – somewhere between a third and a half of the population. It acted as a brake on population growth. Our modern day equivalent of the Black Death may be climate change – I have seen predictions that millions will die as the world warms up from flooding, lack of clean fresh drinking water, food shortages, and diseases which will come into areas previously untouched by them. The poor will as always suffer the most. Since we couldn't brake population growth ourselves, nature may do it for us. Scary isn't it?

    Erica, I am looking forward to you and Campbell anchoring tonight. You both do great jobs and I am looking forward to you anchoring solo again hopefully soon.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  15. Tammy

    Further proof that humankind can ban together and overcome anything....It's in our genetics.

    Speaking of survival, it's hard to share when a person is barely making ends meet. I think it puts into perspective giving until it hurts. At times like these, I believe we as humans are called to do more for each other. Every bit helps.

    As for the doc and her clinic, good for her. The other night I ended up in the ER of my local hospital after my doc was no longer in her office and it cost $1500 (my insurance paid half of this and I paid the rest). And they wonder why my blood pressure shot up in triage. I had great care from an awesome doctor and nurse and staff, but we need to revamp our healthcare system due to what that great care cost. $1500 was zero labwork and scans, just an exam in the room and patient education. I hate to think what the tests will cost this summer that he wants me to have run as a result of this issue just to double check that I'm o.k. Medicine should be affordable, not so out of reach people don't go to the doctor or hospital when they need help. And as wonderful as it is that this woman is doing this, American healthcare shouldn't be so bogged down in making big bucks that the patient is the lowest priority and people have to run free clinics just so they can get help.

    April 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  16. Ruby Coria, LA., CA.

    Hi Erica, I can't help but think that in a way there is just to many of us. The planet can't take it any more we can't feed everyone, we can't all live of gas, and all the other stuff we use, that kills us and the planet and so on.. On the other hand you have Dr. Stuart n others who help by saving lifes, I always thought if I was a Dr. I would work for free..,easy to say, hard to do. see u tonight.

    April 24, 2008 at 8:18 pm |
  17. Fay, CA

    I'm not surprised to hear that the food banks are experiencing shortages in the amount of food that they receive–people are having a hard time making ends meet–the mortgage crisis and sky high gas prices are taking their toll. We can certainly use more people like the heroic Dr. Lorna Stuart in the world right now.

    April 24, 2008 at 7:51 pm |
  18. Dori in AZ

    Hola, Erica!

    Doesn't surprise me that our ancestors almost didn't make it. We're still living on the edge and clinging to survival, only one nuclear reactor or oil spill or war away from the beginning of the end.

    And, despite warnings throughout all of our lifetimes, we ignore them and go about our lives as if nothing is happening. It amazes me that we, as a species, are blessed with so many gifts of intelligence and ability, and that we fail on the most basic levels.

    "Money can't buy everything!" and "Money can't buy happiness!" are a couple of old standbys. If we don't take better care of this small planet as its stewards, there will come a day when money can't buy food or water or air.

    There's still hope. Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived her life helping others. She instructed us to "Do small things with great love." If we were to do more "small things" for our planet and all of humanity "with great love," imagine the possibilities!

    April 24, 2008 at 7:46 pm |
  19. Tina

    Erica,
    Come on, you seem smarter than that!!!
    Tens of thousands of years old...the earth?!!! The movie "Expelled" has long been overdue. Please see this movie and do your best to be open minded if you can. There is absolutely no excuse for such ignorance any more. Journalism has long not been about investigation or substance, and many Americans are smart enough to know the difference. That's keeping you honest.

    April 24, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  20. Eugenia

    Miss Erica,

    I love how your always able to find the light in the dark!

    San Francisco, Ca

    April 24, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  21. Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada

    Glad to see you will be on tonight Erica although I wish you were anchoring.

    The numbers at the food bank are staggering. It is such a horrible situation.

    April 24, 2008 at 6:45 pm |
  22. Michael, NC

    I saw a special on this same subject of near extinction on the Discovery channel a few weeks ago with my girlfriend. Pretty intense. The program showed a combination of a mini-ice age followed by drought and loss of crops before things finally picked up in the tiny groups left. Weird how our civilization is so developed, but one change of weather or one catastrophe could end our time here on our beautiful earth...

    Thanks Erica, I'm excited to see you and Campbell tonight! You ladies do a fine job.

    April 24, 2008 at 6:38 pm |