Monday, April 28, 2008

Global Warming Fueling World Hunger?

Excellent article in the Washington Post about the new World Hunger. How bad is it? Bad.

The food price shock now roiling world markets is destabilizing governments, igniting street riots and threatening to send a new wave of hunger rippling through the world's poorest nations. ... Much of the increase is being absorbed by middle men -- distributors, processors, even governments -- but consumers worldwide are still feeling the pinch.

The convergence of events has thrown world food supply and demand out of whack and snowballed into civil turmoil. ... To quell unrest, countries including Indonesia are digging deep to boost food subsidies. The U.N. World Food Program has warned of an alarming surge in hunger in areas as far-flung as North Korea and West Africa. The crisis, it fears, will plunge more than 100 million of the world's poorest people deeper into poverty, forced to spend more and more of their income on skyrocketing food bills.

"This crisis could result in a cascade of others . . . and become a multidimensional problem affecting economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

But of course, you have to read the fine print:

A big reason for higher wheat prices, for instance, is the multiyear drought in Australia, something that scientists say may become persistent because of global warming. But wheat prices are also rising because U.S. farmers have been planting less of it, or moving wheat to less fertile ground. That is partly because they are planting more corn to capitalize on the biofuel frenzy.

In other words, the crisis may have its genesis on two ends of the same problem: Global Warming causing droughts causing poor harvests, and people shifting resources to create alternatives to forestall or reverse Global Warming. Highly ironic when you consider that biofuels are turning out to be a scam.

Ever get the feeling we are really, truly screwed?


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