What’s going on right now in the agriculture industry is scary to say the least.
I don’t mean for this to be a doomsday post, but I figured that I should write something on one of the most pressing issues facing society today. It’s such a multi-level problem that I need to write something to digest it… Best quote ever was in a comment from one of my readers:
I read voraciously, but in the end, reading is a passive activity. Only when you write do you create and explore new ideas. The more in depth the writing, the more you digest, dissect and discover new elements of the issue you are writing about.
Reading is akin to eating well. Writing is more like going to the gym.
So, here goes the workout.
I’m sure everyone is aware about the spiralling out of control cost of food. The UN is meeting in Berne right now and has just announced that it’ll set up a new task force for this massive challenge.
To be short:
- Demand outstrips supply
- Soaring population, increased demand from India/China (higher economic growth means more meat eaters)
- This causes mass panic and hunger in the developing world and people begin hoarding and rioting
- Supply is dwindling
- rising oil prices (fertilizers made from petrol, think about where our food comes from and then tack on the transport toll)
- climate change – drier seasons in many places decreases the yield
- farmers changing to biofuels
- No quick fix solution
- Not just a question of supply and demand – it’s much more complex and the experts agree that there is no quick solution
- The whole system is quite shaky
- Need to shift to sustainable agriculture (less fertilizers/pesticides) and more natural techniques
- Very dependent on oil
But, my concern is that I don’t know if people here in the western world have really reflected on what this might mean in the long term.
How to react?
We’re not rioting because we haven’t quite seen the effects in our lives yet and we in the Western world spend far less on food (as % of our income) than those in the developing world (good stories on bbc here) making us better positioned to take on this challenge. I bet most of us haven’t changed our eating patterns because of this situation, and why should we? We haven’t been seriously affected…yet.
I recently wrote a comment for the Globe after reading annoyingly ignorant comments that people were making dismissing the food crisis as scaremongering and making fun of the Chicken Littles out there.
“The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”
True of false? You say that the sky is not falling and that we’ll adapt.
Yes, we’ll adapt…but only by changing.
So, no, of course we’re not all going to die, but let’s face it, a lot more will die if things don’t change soon.
Next up: ideas for changing