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Posts Tagged ‘Scarcity

The government doesn’t give a wan, eitolated damn about you- Fred Reed

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The government doesn’t give a wan, eitolated damn about you. 

Eye-balling the Fifth Century

July 21, 2011   By Fred Reed       FredOnEverything.net

When a country works reasonably well—when the schools teach algebra and not governmentally mandated Appropriate Values, when the police are scarce and courteous, when government is remote and minds its business and works more for the benefit of the country than for looters and special interests, then pledging to it a degree of allegiance isn’t foolish. Decades back America was such a country, imperfect as all countries are, but good enough to cherish.

As decline begins, and government becomes oppressive, self-righteous, and ruthless yet incompetent, as official spying flourishes, as corruption sets in hard, and institutions rot, it is time to disengage. Loyalty to a country is a choice, not an obligation. In other times people have loved family, friends, common decency, tribe, regiment, or church instead of country. In an age of national collapse, this is wise.

A fruitful field of disengagement might be called domestic expatriation—the recognition that living in a country makes you a resident, not a subscriber. It is one thing to be loyal to a government that is loyal to you, another thing entirely to continue that loyalty when the Brown Shirts march and the government rejects everything that you believe in. While the phrase has become unbearably pretentious, it is possible to regard oneself as a citizen of the world rather than of the Reich.

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The New Politics of Food Scarcity

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Veteran world watcher Lester Brown sounds dire warning of spreading political unrest, conflicts, and deepening division between rich and poor as food prices soar and supply falls further and further behind rising demand, but does not point to obvious solution  Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

June 14, 2011                    The Institute of Science in Society

 

Soaring food prices and political unrest

Soaring food prices were a major trigger for the riots that has destabilized North Africa and the Middle East beginning December 2010 in Tunisia. Political unrest has since engulfed Algeria, Egypt, Jordon, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and spread to Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, and beyond [1-4]. Latin America is said to be at risk [5], and even Britain, if food prices continue to rise [6]. The UN Food Price Index has been hovering above 231 points since the start of 2011, and hit its all-time high of 238 points in February. The May 2011 average was 232 points, 37 percent higher than a year ago [7].

Richard Ferguson, global head of agriculture at Renaissance Capital, an investment bank specializing in emerging markets, told The Guardian newspaper in the UK [1] that the problems were likely to spread. “Food prices are absolutely core to a lot of these disturbances. If you are 25 years old, with no access to education, no income and live in a politically repressed environment, you are going to be pretty angry when the price of food goes up the way it is.” It acted “as a catalyst” for political unrest, when added to other ills such as a lack of democracy.

“Scarcity is the new norm”

Food has quickly become the hidden driver of world politics [8], says Lester Brown, venerated veteran world-watcher, who also predicts that crises like these are going to become increasingly common. “Scarcity is the new norm.”

Historically, price spikes tended to be almost exclusively due to bad weather such as monsoon failure, drought, heat wave, etc., but today, they are driven by trends of both increasing demand and decreasing ability to supply. With a rapidly expanding global population demanding to be fed, crop-withering temperatures and exhausted aquifers are making it difficult to increase production. Moreover, the world is losing its ability to soften the blow of shortages. USA, the world’s largest grain producer, was able to rescue shortages with its grain surpluses in the past, or bring idle croplands into cultivation. “We can’t do that anymore; the safety cushion is gone.”

That’s why “the food crisis of 2011 is for real”, Brown warns, and why it may bring yet more bread riots and political revolutions. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, may not be the end, but the beginning.

Brown does not mention the huge speculation on agricultural commodities in the world financial markets that not only drives up prices but increases volatility, making it much more difficult for farmers and consumers to cope (see [9] Financing World Hunger, SiS 46). Olivier de Shutter, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, has referred to the 2007-2008 crisis as a “price-crisis” not a “food-crisis”, precipitated by speculation and not linked to insufficient food being produced, at least not yet, as Brown elaborates.

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Peak Soil: It’s Like Peak Oil, Only Worse

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010  By Matthew Wild

Peak Generation

Resource collapse is bigger than peak oil, and bigger even than the projected depletion of natural gas, coal and uranium – it encompasses each and every natural resource extracted, exploited or otherwise processed on an industrial scale.

This is not to deny peak oil, or the subsequent decline of all the other hydrocarbons that are essential to our lives and economies; the point is that even if we switched to renewable energy tomorrow, we would still not be out of the mess that we’re in. We’re experiencing problems with our living environment – climate, soil and water – that are more than just energy issues.

Once again, Hubbert’s model can be applied to any finite resource we extract from the Earth. If it’s tragic that we are burning through all available resources with no thought for future consequences, it’s worse still to think that the payback will likely happen all together. We will probably find ourselves dealing with a widespread hydrocarbons collapse right when we have to face a greatly reduced global capacity to grow crops and find people enough water to drink.

The peak debate, although on the surface about energy security, comes back to food supply. So here I’m going to look at peak soil, peak water and peak phosphorous.

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History’s greatest Ponzi scheme

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scavengerPost Carbon Institute’s Richard Heinberg writes about our ailing economy and alternative solutions in this article: Temporary Recession or the End of Growth?

“…Given that growth cannot continue on a finite planet, this wager, and its embodiment in the institutions of finance, can be said to constitute history’s greatest Ponzi scheme.

 We have justified present borrowing with the irrational belief that perpetual growth is possible, necessary, and inevitable. In effect we have borrowed from future generations so that we could gamble away their capital today.

Until recently, the Peak Oil argument has been framed as a forecast: the inevitable decline in world petroleum production, whenever it occurs, will kill growth. But here is where forecast becomes diagnosis: during the period from 2005 to 2008, energy stopped growing and oil prices rose to record levels. By July of 2008, the price of a barrel of oil was nudging close to $150—half again higher than any previous petroleum price in inflation-adjusted terms—and the global economy was beginning to topple……

……..a good argument can be made that speculation in oil futures was merely magnifying price moves that were inevitable on the basis of the fundamentals of supply and demand……

About 85 percent of our current energy is derived from three primary sources—oil, natural gas, and coal—that are non-renewable, whose price is likely to trend sharply higher over the next years and decades leading to severe shortages, and whose environmental impacts are unacceptable. While these sources historically have had very high economic value, we cannot rely on them in the future; indeed, the longer the transition to alternative energy sources is delayed, the more difficult that transition will be unless some practical mix of alternative energy systems can be identified that will have superior economic and environmental characteristics.”