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Apr
05

Reality overtaking the ability to deny

Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are few climate-change skeptics amongst those who grow the world's food – if any. Farmers don't have to read UN reports to know how radically their weather is changing. And consumers don't need academic studies or bullet points to know that food prices are steadily rising.

Think the new climate report is scary? The food-pocalypse is already upon us
Richard Schiffman: Riots. Towns gone dry. Soaring prices. Crushing starvation. If this sounds like fear-mongering from scientists, talk to the farmers

3 comments

  1. John Poteet
    John Poteet says:

    The article is far too optimistic. I expect food prices relative to energy costs to double or even triple. There will be periods where the price spikes will be even higher. The U.S. beef herds are currently at lower numbers than they've been in my lifetime. We raise cattle because they eat grass for most of their lives. Something humans can't eat.

    Those herds can't be built back up quickly. Orchards that are destroyed take 5-7 years to come back into full production at considerable cost. The same with grapes.

    We're in trouble.

  2. Edward Morbius
    Edward Morbius says:

    +John Poteet The thing about price arguments, and this is something I've struggled to understand since undergrad econ classes decades ago: is that they're determined by both supply and demand. And those are co-related in complex ways (distinguishing from just "correlated" to suggest a linear relation).

    Food and energy are actually both energy, though different forms (one's useful to eat, the other to make things happen in machines, generally). And when energy gets more expensive it means you can do less. The economy as a whole slows down, and in both financial and real wealth terms, there's less money.

    The important change then isn't price but affordability, and it's that which I think we'll see falling. Because incomes will be falling.

    It's part of the longer-term secular trend in wages that's been observed in the West since the 1970s: wages an incomes fall, prices have wavered a bit, but the overall effect is more precariousness and less affordability in many instances. But don't expect that resource prices will strictly rise, or rise as much as you'd otherwise expect. They likely won't because of a weakened demand brought about by lower economic activity.

  3. John Poteet
    John Poteet says:

    +Edward Morbius People are showing up at our community garden amazed that there's a space where people can grow food. They're living on pasta, beans and ramen with little or no vegetables. I give them what I can.

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