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Global food fights

By Alan Caruba
web posted April 14, 2008

Field of cornIt takes a decent respect for the obvious truth to admit that mankind has no control over the climate. What is occurring, however, based on actual and anecdotal information, is a trend toward global cooling. Between rising food costs driven by an environmental agenda and real, not imagined, climate change, the word famine is going to heard more often.

We are seeing (1) weather related crop failures and (2) the artificial increase of the cost of food because crops like corn have been diverted to make ethanol. In the rush to cash in on the higher price for corn, farmers who would otherwise plant wheat and other grains are creating shortages.

Take away "biofuels" and you take away the imbalances being seen and felt worldwide.

However, there is nothing that can be done about the changing weather patterns that are leaving havoc in their wake, i.e., lots of snow and ice followed by lots of flooding. At the same time that Al Gore has announced a $300 million propaganda campaign to secure global warming legislation Mother Nature is getting colder.

California experienced a five-day freeze in January 2007 that ruined $1.42 billion worth of produce. In April 2007, a freeze destroyed 95 percent of South Carolina's peach crop and 90 percent of North Carolina's apple harvest as colder weather is increasing around the world.

In late March, the website www.longrangeweather.com posted an article by climatologist Cliff Harris asking, "Are We Entering a Period of Sudden ‘Global Cooling'?" in which he noted that, "The total extent of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of February was at the highest level since the same period 42 years ago in 1966."

"According to my climatological colleagues in Britain, Japan, and the U.S., the winter months of December, January, and February were likewise the coldest as a whole since at least the late 1970s, in some cases dating back to either the 1930s or even the 1880s."

"In southeastern China, the winter of 2007-2008 has been the worst since 1210, nearly 800 years ago!" Severe winter conditions killed at least 40% of the 2007-2008 rapeseed crop (canola), a staple in China.
 
On March 24, the Associated Press reported from Asia that the rising cost of food staples was due in part because "freak weather is a factor." But it is not freak weather. It is part of a trend toward cooling.

Peter Brabeck-Letmache, the president of Nestle, the world's largest food and beverage company, spoke out in March, saying, "If as predicted we look to use biofuels to satisfy 20 percent of the growing demand for oil products, there will be nothing left to eat."

What makes this shift particularly obscene is the fact that there is ample crude oil to meet the world's need for gasoline and diesel. The mandate to use alternative fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel has the secondary effect of exacerbating food shortages because the cost of fuel to plant, harvest, and transport crops has increased.

The weather, however, is a mitigating factor. As one farming publication noted recently, "Extreme weather shifts over the past two years have reduced wheat harvest worldwide by nearly ten percent." Depending on varying analysis, wheat supplies are at their lowest since either 1973 or 1940.

It's not just wheat or soy. On March 20, an article in The New York Times reported that, "Rising prices and a growing fear of scarcity have prompted some of the world's largest rice producers to announce drastic limits on the amount of rice they export." The price of rice has nearly doubled.

Aggravating the shortages and increasing the prices are the steps being taken by nations placing curbs on the export of some of their food crops. As often as not this leads to further food shortages because local farmers then change what they plant. 

The result is an increasing number of food-related disturbances worldwide in places like Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Uzbekistan, and Yemen, to name just a few. In the United States, bakers recently marched on Washington, DC to call attention to wheat shortages and its rising price.

A combination of many factors, government imposed environmental dictates, export curbs, and crop losses resulting from the cooling weather cycle could generate further shortages of food. My crystal ball tells me we are going to read and hear a lot more about food protests around the world. ESR

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com. He blogs at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. © Alan Caruba, April 2008


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