Global Warming vs. Food

My liberal pal Joey from the forum I frequent linked up to an interesting article from The Independent

Most people in Britain won’t have noticed. On the supermarket shelves the signs are still subtle. But the onset of a major change will be sitting in front of many people this morning in their breakfast bowl. The price of cereals in this country has jumped by 12 per cent in the past year. And the cost of milk on the global market has leapt by nearly 60 per cent. In short we may be reaching the end of cheap food.

Like any other self-respecting trend this one now has its own name: agflation. Beneath this harmless-sounding piece of jargon – the conflation of agriculture and inflation – lie two main drivers that suggest that cheap food is about to become a thing of the past. Agflation, to those that believe that it is really happening, is an increase in the price of food that occurs as a result of increased demand from human consumption and the diversion of crops into usage as an alternative energy resource.

On the one hand the growing affluence of millions of people in China and India is creating a surge in demand for food – the rising populations are not content with their parents’ diet and demand more meat. On the other, is the use of food crops as a source of energy in place of oil, the so-called bio-fuels boom.

As these two forces combine they are setting off warning bells around the world.

Rice prices are climbing worldwide. Butter prices in Europe have spiked by 40 per cent in the past year. Wheat futures are trading at their highest level for a decade. Global soybean prices have risen by a half. Pork prices in China are up 20 per cent on last year and the food price index in India was up by 11 per cent year on year. In Mexico there have been riots in response to a 60 per cent rise in the cost of tortillas.

I usually hate to excerpt so much at one time, but the article is pointing to a an important point: agriculture-for-food versus agriculture-for-fuel.

In the past 12 months the global corn price has doubled. The constant aim of agriculture is to produce enough food to carry us over to the next harvest. In six of the past seven years, we have used more grain worldwide than we have produced. As a result world grain reserves – or carryover stocks – have dwindled to 57 days. This is the lowest level of grain reserves in 34 years.

The reason for the price surge is the wholesale diversion of grain crops into the production of ethanol. Thirty per cent of next year’s grain harvest in the US will go straight to an ethanol distillery. As the US supplies more than two-thirds of the world’s grain imports this unprecedented move will affect food prices everywhere. In Europe farmers are switching en masse to fuel crops to meet the EU requirement that bio-fuels account for 20 per cent of the energy mix.

There is a dangerous assumption that ethanol is the panacea of cures for energy production, particularly for passenger conveyances. Airplanes, boats, cars, trucks. As the article points out, this will cause direct competition

Ethanol is almost universally popular with politicians as it allows them to tell voters to keep on motoring, while bio-fuels will fix the problem of harmful greenhouse gas emissions. But bio-fuels are not a green panacea, as the influential economist Lester Brown from the Earth Policy Institute explained in a briefing to the US Senate last week. He said: "The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world’s 2 billion poorest people."

I wonder why we heard zip regarding that Senate briefing? I would suspect some of hiding it due to ulterior motives, in order to harm Big Oil, and push their global warming as caused by Man agenda.

The competition between food and fuel uses will certainly not just affect the poor around the world, but easily the middle class, as well. We already see the price of groceries going up, since, as you know, the price of gas will increase the price of delivery which will increase the price at the register. Companies are not going to give up their profits, nor should they.

But, this whole discussion raises another important point: the UN IPCC report on global warming, if it can be believe, places the major portion of man-made global warming on agriculture. It states that agriculture is more dangerous and a larger contributor to greenhouse gasses then automobiles. Of course, the panel in no way stated that Man should cut back on agriculture. The growing human population needs food. We cannot get it simply from the sea, now, can we? We cannot just do away with one aspect or another, such as meat animals. Man needs a varied diet. And an increased reliance on bio-fuels will require more agriculture, which would lead one to believe that even more greenhouse gasses would be produced from that sector, even as the bio-fuels (hopefully) decrease them from the vehicle sector. An interesting choice.

Finally, in regards to those same greenhouse gasses from agriculture, the IPCC report focuses on CO2. Interestingly enough, plants release large amounts of methane, which is a considerably more pervasive greenhouse gas. So, while we look for ways to produce fuels that decrease our dependence on oil, and lower CO2 output, we could actually be doing actual serious damage in terms of real global warming as caused by Man.

Of course, there is one problem with the IPCC report

According to Swedish paleogeophysicist Nils-Axel Mörner, who’s been studying and writing about sea levels for four decades, the scientists working for the IPCC have falsified data and destroyed evidence to incorrectly prove their point.

Well, there is more then one problem, but this one does not help.

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2 Responses to “Global Warming vs. Food”

  1. Silke says:

    Teach said: the UN IPCC report on global warming, if it can be believe, places the major portion of man-made global warming on agriculture. It states that agriculture is more dangerous and a larger contributor to greenhouse gasses then automobiles.

    Where specifically in the report did you see this? I believe you are confusing this with a 2006 report written by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (Live-stock’s Long Shadow) – not the IPCC. And if you are referring to this report you didn’t even get that right. The FAO report does not blame agriculture, it says livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. The report also states that major improvements could be achieved at reasonable cost.

    http://www.virtualcentre.org/en/library/key_pub/longshad/A0701E00.pdf

    According to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, “the largest known contribution comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere.”

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Pub_FAQs.pdf

  2. John Ryan says:

    Agriculuter ? Animal husbadry ? Its all the same…. things that people do in the rural areas. If we can somehow place the “blame” on them people may be more sympathetic to the belief in no climate change.

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