Climate Change, Climate Chaos, Earth Policy Research Centre, Ecological Overshoot, Environmental Collapse, FAO Food Price Index, Hunger Games, Lester Brown, Mass Starvation, Overpopulation, Peak Phosphorus, Peak Water, Professor Chris Rhodes, Resource Wars, Social Unrest, U.N. Assessment on Global Food Crisis
The following excerpt is from a recent U.N. assessment on the state of the world and food production. It’s not a pretty picture, but despite alarm bells ringing, our trajectory of ecological collapse is still firmly on track…
Click to go to full letter:
The human rights of people and well-being of the planet first? Don’t make me laugh. There’s that oxymoron again – sustainable development. Given the track record of the U.N. on solving problems, rest assured there won’t be any radical ideas coming out of that institution that might threaten capitalism’s death grip on the planet. If there’s no money to be made, resource to be exploited, or economic growth to be had, then it won’t get done. Period.
…From the UK Guardian article discussing the above U.N. assessment:
UN warns of looming worldwide food crisis in 2013 … – The Guardian
…Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.
“We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UNFood and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With foodconsumption exceeding the amount grown for six of the past 11 years, countries have run down reserves from an average of 107 days of consumption 10 years ago to under 74 days recently…
…In a shocking new assessment of the prospects of meeting food needs, Lester Brown, president of the Earth policy research centre in Washington, says that the climate is no longer reliable and the demands for food are growing so fast that a breakdown is inevitable, unless urgent action is taken.
“Food shortages undermined earlier civilisations. We are on the same path. Each country is now fending for itself. The world is living one year to the next,” he writes in a new book.
According to Brown, we are seeing the start of a food supply breakdown with a dash by speculators to “grab” millions of square miles of cheap farmland, the doubling of international food prices in a decade, and the dramatic rundown of countries’ food reserves.
This year, for the sixth time in 11 years, the world will consume more food than it produces, largely because of extreme weather in the US and other major food-exporting countries. Oxfam last week said that the price of key staples, including wheat and rice, may double in the next 20 years, threatening disastrous consequences for poor people who spend a large proportion of their income on food…
…“The geopolitics of food is fast overshadowing the geopolitics of oil.”
…“The situation we are in is not temporary. These things will happen all the time. Climate is in a state of flux and there is no normal any more.
“We are beginning a new chapter. We will see food unrest in many more places.
“Armed aggression is no longer the principal threat to our future. The overriding threats to this century are climate change, population growth, spreading water shortages and rising food prices,” Brown says.
Food prices from 1990 to the present…
And an open letter(10-12-2012) by Professor Christopher Rhodes on our looming problem of Peak Phosphorus…
Our politicians should be running on a platform of issues concerning basic survival at this point.
Paul f. Getty said:
All of this is so easy to see…..for me. Apparently I am wearing special spectacles, as no one else around me can see any of this, except those far away that I am linked with via the Internet.
It is a lonely way to live, knowing all of this, what is coming, trying to warn others, but only getting blank stares.
I look forward to your excellent articles, Mike.
It’s the rare individual that leads an examine life, studies the world outside of their well-worn confines, and comes to rational conclusions from the information gathered far and wide. Willful ignorance is rampant and requires no introspection and evaluation of one’s own prejudices and worldview. For most, the daily grind of work and family life is all they want to handle. So society moves along with a herd mentality, steered by the propaganda of a corporate media at the behest of a wealthy elite. Class warfare is real.
” [We are] a compliant (and complacent) populace which is deferential to power and wealth, tied in ideological knots through false consciousness, and intellectually broken down through media, propaganda, and signals from above.”
~ Norman Pollack
Any species on this planet when provided with a surfeit of energy undergoes a population explosion. Human populations have expanded in line with the production of fossil fuels. As the available net energy declines so must the population. Other factors that result from the lower exploitation of natural resources will also contribute to the coming population collapse.
It’s not going to be pleasant, but our best hope for the human species’ long term survival is a dramatic population decline, which would seem to be mother nature’s solution. Since we are incapable of the required actions without a forcing function.
I don’t look forward to this.
Are you saying the destiny of modern man is, for the most part, guided by his discovery of energy-rich fossil fuels? And that we never evolved enough to handle all the problems that came with the harnessing of such energy? Is Energy God?
John Christian said:
So far out destiny seems very controlled by the access to cheap fossil fuel energy, but lets imagine that there was a super solar cell that could extract 1000 times more energy from the sun than today and each last for thousands of years (theoretically impossible). I believe we would naturally evolve society into using this as our primary source of energy instead, even if it wasn’t one burning fossil fuels. But entropy is king here, so the solar cells have to be made from something, some machine needs to harvest the materials needed. Same way it will not limit the amount of people on the planet, but rather the contrary as cheap energy makes the creation of food simpler and faster – as well as any other thing consumed. Jevons Paradox really explains it all – the better we are at consuming energy the faster we turn stuff into entropy.
As you say in your article, the stuff turning to entropy now is the soil in which we grow our food in. We have abandoned the idea of mother natures built in recycling of biomass simply because it wasn’t fast enough for economic growth. Fossil fuel really boosted this big time to make bankers smile all the way to… well… the bank. Efficiency = more people = more consumers = more stuff turning to entropy faster. I believe in essence this is the destiny of modern man. We are just speeding up the process of turning stuff into nothing (as opposed to the economy which is based upon turning nothing into money).
The question is really when we reach a critical point in this entropy-machine where it all collapses on itself and turns back into a low-energy system again to let biomass and biodiversity flourish again with less people around. The question is also whether an elite will be able to buy themselves out of this misery and live isolated in small patches of self sustained techno-heaven or whether they also will be dragged into the whirlpool when it all comes down. If the latter scenario exists, the majority of people will live in poverty and working as slaves for the elite, just like any feudal system back in time.
Our destiny is guided by the planet on which we live.
The more energy we obtain, the more food we make, the more we reproduce.
The more we reproduce the more we affect the planet on which we live.
We haven’t evolved past that and we never will.
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