Now that the whole world knows about the food crisis, and moves are afoot to help stave that off, it’s really time to talk about how we got here. Here’s part of what will be happening to alleviate the current issues:
President Bush has responded to a World Bank warning on the dangers of soaring food prices by ording the release of $200 million in emergency food aid for the worst affected countries.
Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, this week urged rich nations to “put our money where our mouth is” and act urgently to help people in need. He cited an appeal by the UN’s World Food Programme to raise $500 million by May 1, which had received commitments for less than half of that total…
…The United States is already the largest provider of food aid in the world, delivering more than $2.1 billion to 78 developing countries last year. Officials and aid groups meeting at the US Government’s annual convention on global food aid in Kansas City, Missouri, said that more funding would be needed – including long-term investment to improve agricultural productivity.
“This is an increasingly difficult time. We need to get the right food to the right people at the right time,” said Jeffrey Borns, director of the largest US food aid programme. As important, he said, was the need to support agriculture in the Third World and lower trade barriers.
Yes, the evil imperialistic United States is going to go extend their hegemony by feeding the world again. (That’s sarcasm folks, I don’t use it often so I point it out when I do.) That said, how did we get here — we’ve had famine beat for almost 20 years? The problem is that this crisis isn’t sexy, and has potential to harm both liberals and conservatives, for both have colluded in creating it. The crisis will get a lot of press, but cause and potential solution are going to get short shrift. Embedded energy, ecology, and farm lobbies will likely see to that.
The title for this post comes from Jerry Pournelle, who coined the statement in a series of essays he wrote in response to the the global crisis eco-scare of his day, The Club of Rome Report. The clothing of the scare has changed but the neo-luddite soul of the beast is impossible to slay as today’s eco-crisis takes the philosophy of the 60’s movements and makes that the goal.
The Club of Rome, Jeremy Rifken, E.F. Schumacher, and Rachel Carson’s philosophies are now the goal, rather than real results. Now we have “Pop Environmentalism” — where energy use in itself is the evil, rather than a symptom or solution. Because of this people like Patrick Moore have turned from the movement they helped create as noted below:
Speak No Evil
One of the co-founders of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, says that the environmental organization is wrong for calling nuclear energy “evil.” He says, “We made the mistake of lumping nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons, as if all things nuclear were evil.”
Moore, who left the organization in 1986 after 15 years of service, also lashed out at the movement he helped create saying, “That’s why I left Greenpeace: I could see that my fellow directors were taking the organization into what I call ‘pop environmentalism’ which uses sensationalism, misinformation, fear tactics to deal with people on an emotional level rather than an intellectual level.”
— FOX News Channel’s Martin Hill contributed to this report
The food crisis is a combination problem caused by a variety of factors, but we would not be here talking about this without large-scale eco-meddling from Governments. I’ve been picking on Al Gore simply because he is the most visible face of the Euro-technocratic ecology movement. Also at fault in this food crisis are the energy-tyrants who keep prices high by artificial controls on output, protectionist governments who protect their farming through tariffs and controls, and the governments who subsidize ethanol and other fuel crops. (Yes, that’s us and Archer Daniels-Midland)
The energy moguls in the mid-east have a policy that’s created starvation in their own countries, and through Kyoto The EU technocrats have created a solution in search of a problem – and their assumed problem is that the world uses too much energy. They attempt to attack the problem of energy use with carbon caps and transfers. While attempting to bite the hand that feeds them, the foolish EU technocrats and the energy tyrants have pushed the world into this crisis.
Like it or not we are a high energy society – the world is too much with us for we are billions in number. Those billions of humans and ecology are mutually exclusive in a low-energy world. In a low-energy society their waste can’t be cleaned, clean water won’t exist for them, their air will not be clean, their food will be scarce, and their work will be scarcer. Life will be brutal, grueling, and short.
The inflation we are seeing now manifested in food prices tracks back to sustained high energy prices coupled with croplands set aside to create new sources of energy. (see here, here, and here.)
There are two things demonstrated to reduce birthrate, hunger, disease, poverty, and unemployment. Thing one is cheap, plentiful energy; thing two is freedom. Given both any nation will thrive.
Given cheap plentiful energy all things are possible – those farmlands suffering from drought in Australia as one factor of the current food-crisis could use desalinated or pumped water for irrigation – but that takes energy and infrastructure. Producing infrastructure also takes energy if you want it reasonably priced then the energy to produce it needs to be reasonably priced as well.
The sewage from 7 billion human beings can be cleaned given cheap plentiful energy – without energy it’s an Augean task that will remain un-accomplished through most of the world, creating more disease, impure water, and noxious gases.
There are plenty of croplands even for energy fuel crops if infertile regions could be fertilized — but making high nitrate fertilizer is highly energy-intensive; if you don’t believe then go price some Scott’s grow this year.
Indeed if you track the inflation in most goods, whether that be food, fertilizer, or fungicide you will find that the inflation we see lately is not for want of labor or capital, but rather energy. Even the byproducts of energy production like plastic, have increased in price: Starbuck’s now serves drinks in thinner mil plastic cups than they did in years past.
In low-energy areas even the simplest thing like cooking dinner creates terrible pollution. In Sub-Saharan Africa a large percent of meals are prepared over wood fires. I’ve detailed in the past how terrible that is, but people have to eat and if there aren’t electric ranges and cheap electricity then wood is their answer.
The Euro-technocrats start with a view that energy is limited and finite, and therefor energy use in itself is bad. They believe that if you reduce energy consumption that pollution will go down, but the obverse is true, the obverse is the reality.
The cleanest streams in your state are not the high mountain streams, for even they have dissolved toxic minerals and fecal coliform in them. The cleanest streams are the outfall pipes of modern sewage treatment plants, and it takes high energy use to make water nearly atomically pure.
Aversion to energy use is really the driver behind the Kyoto treaty and Global Warming crisis-mongering. By capping carbon, by reducing emissions, by artificial government constructs they increase the price of energy world-wide and think that’s a good thing. They will start learning a very harsh lession this year as thousands to millions of humans across the planet starve, and as countries leave the treaty because they cannot afford to be in it anymore.
The answer stares us in the face at Yucca moutain, and at our aging nuclear reactors as well as at our nuclear regulatory bodies. Nuclear energy policy is a key question to ask of every Presidential candidate this year. They all pay lip service to clean energy, but we are past the point where we can allow the neo-luddite anti-nuclear crowd to continue to starve people in third world countries to death. We need to throw the buzz words “energy-independence” out the window and instead ask them the following:
Which candidates have a clear position on new Nuclear Energy? Which candidates want a clean energy abundant future for your children and the world?
This century a noble task lays before us, we can quail or we can take it on: we must lead the world to clean energy abundance. If we fail to do so we will face unending famine, strife, poverty, disease, war, and destruction. It’s pretty simple and clear when you boil it down to essentials and actually do the math needed to calculate requirements for survival on a planet with 9 Billion humans.
We can have a wonderful future, or we can live in ignomy and shame – that choice is clear and doesn’t take questionable computer models to project.
More on the the problem, and the attempts to ignore this problem at Jammie Wearing Fool (remember: people are eating grass, belts, and shoes tonight while this ninny commiserates with Gaia.)