Almost one fifth of US cropland has been converted to energy crops in the quest to reduce carbon and create energy independence – Brazil has about a sixth of its cropland for energy production, and many countries, like China are following suit. Why grow wheat or rice with small profit margin when you can grow government subsidized fuel crops, a sure thing?
I read the news today oh boy….. The Government of Haiti fell to food riots.
The World Bank devoted almost their entire session this meeting to the food price crisis. “The food price crisis” is shorthand for the poor of the world starving once more, it’s code for babies dying with grotesquely enlarged but empty bellies.
For more than a decade we’ve kept famine at bay, and it looked as if it were gone forever. That’s not the case as the dire combination of high energy prices and food shortage has driven many countries close to the edge.
Zoellick said that the fall of the government in Haiti over the weekend after a wave of deadly rioting and looting over food prices underscores the importance of quick international action.
He said the bank is granting an additional $10 million to Haiti for food programs.
Zoellick said that international finance meetings are “often about talk,” but he noted a “greater sense of intensity and focus” among ministers; now, he said, they have to “translate it into greater action.”
The bank, he said, is responding to needs in a number of other countries with conditional cash-transfer programs, food and seeds for planting in the new season.
“This is not just a question of short-term needs, as important as they are,” Zoellick said. “This is about ensuring that future generations don’t pay a price, too.”
The head of the IMF also sounded the alarm on food prices, warning that if they remain high there will be dire consequences for people in many developing countries, especially in Africa.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn had said Saturday that the problem could also create trade imbalances that would affect major advanced economies, “so it is not only a humanitarian question.”
Hunger has a cold calculus that’s much easier to factor and surer of outcome than climate modeling.
Eventually people will figure out that there’s money to be made in food as well as fuel crops, more rain forest will be converted to food crops, and famine and death will tire of their race. More forest land will be lost in the US in one of those unintended consequences that environmentalists never see. (The US has been at equilibrium for forest land the past century – with rising demands for crops, that will change.) It will take years however, and the government created shortages will have killed hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions by then.
Update: Biofuels a Factor in Food Prices:
The World Bank report says concerns about oil prices, energy security and climate change have led governments to encourage people to produce and use more biofuels and less petroleum. The report says that means greater demand for raw materials, including wheat, soy, palm oil and corn, which means costlier food. The World Bank also blames the food price increases on more expensive energy and fertilizer, as well as export bans and a weak dollar.
With that in mind, Kimberly Elliott, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, says it’s time for governments to stop placing so much emphasis on corn-based biofuels such as ethanol. “So it’s driving up food prices because we’re shifting corn from food to fuel, and not doing very much for the environment, if anything, and it is very costly, so it’s really a policy that just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
What’s Al Gore got to say about this? Not much.
Think Haiti’s just an anomaly? More here, here, here, here, here, here
Food Crisis Deepens, Calls for Summits, Riots in Haiti
How Global Warming Activists Manipulate the News at BBC
Gore Lied; People Will Die