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Author Topic: Global Food Crisis
Lyrhawn
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I think that with the ice caps melting, they'll find billions of gallons. I've heard estimates of there being a field larger than the biggest filed in Saudi Arabia (I can't remember the name of the field).

But even if there is, I think we're still close to peak oil. Demand from India, China, and other places is skyrocketing, to the point where a vastly increased supply still won't make up for it. Peak oil, as I've often heard it referred to, is about when the replacement rate of oil can't keep up with increased demand, which I personally think is a more significant number, but either way it's troubling.

As prices start to explode in the United States, which WILL happen at an accelerated pace over the next decade, innovation will pave the way for oil replacements, be it algae biofuel, electric cars, or a combination of the two, I think in the United States, oil will start to take a back seat in a 30 - 40 years. But it'll be a generation or more before we're really on our way off of oil, and it's going to be a painful transition.

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luthe
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
People who have to make a choice between an iPod and food will choose food. If they don't have to make the choice, they won't.

But the choice is between them having an ipod and someone else having food.
The world doesn't function on altruism, people will choose the iPod.
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MightyCow
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While I agree that we live in a global economy, I don't think it's so tightly interconnected that my iPod is literally taking the food off of anyone's table.
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luthe
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
While I agree that we live in a global economy, I don't think it's so tightly interconnected that my iPod is literally taking the food off of anyone's table.

Indeed it is not. The whole point of that claim is to make you feel guilty, in an attempt to get you to reduce your consuption.
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Juxtapose
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quote:
Peak oil, as I've often heard it referred to, is about when the replacement rate of oil can't keep up with increased demand, which I personally think is a more significant number, but either way it's troubling.
Rabbit has the right definition. The "peak" refers to production, after which it must decline.

I think you're right about the significance in that we'll start to feel the effects of what you're talking about much sooner (as in six years ago). But we're still in a place where production is increasing.

You'll know when peak oil hits because the rate of price increase will go from linear to geometric*. Assuming we take no steps to wean ourselves, of course.

*I realize this may not be strictly accurate, mathematically speaking. I mean that the graph of the function will begin to curve upward, and that's the best word I know to describe it.

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aspectre
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"I am a bit tight with money...But so what? If I start to acquire luxurious things then
this will only incite others to follow suit. It's important that leaders set an example.
I look at the money I'm about to spend on myself and ask if Ikea's customers could afford it.
From time to time I like to buy a nice shirt and cravat - and eat Swedish fish roe."

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aspectre
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quote:
quote:
While I agree that we live in a global economy, I don't think it's so tightly interconnected that my iPod is literally taking the food off of anyone's table.
Indeed it is not. The whole point of that claim is to make you feel guilty, in an attempt to get you to reduce your consuption.
Actually it's worse. Your purchases of consumer electronics such as iPods and cellphones have been funding the Congolese War.

As I said before, nobody fights a war unless there is MAJOR profit for the already wealthy.
Bullets for an assault rifle cost over US$0.25 per round on the legal market. RocketPropelledGrenades cost US$50toUS$200 per round on the legal market. A lot more is paid to blackmarket arms dealers.

The average*Congolese makes ~US$2 per day: ie GrossDomesticProduct divided by the total population.
The median*income per person is less than US$O.80 per day: ie over half the people are living on less than 80cents per day.
Probably considerably less: I've seen estimates of the median being as low as 33cents per day.

Being able to buy 4bullets IF ya starve yourself for 3days ain't exactly conducive to warfare. Then of course, ya'd hafta starve yerself for a year to be able to afford the rifle to fire the darn things.
(Thanks to free enterprise and the NRA, old assault rifles are cheap on the world blackmarket.)

* In terms of PurchasingPowerParity.
quote:
But the choice is between them having an ipod and someone else having food.
quote:
The world doesn't function on altruism, people will choose the iPod.

So you were correct the first time around. People are more willing to pay LOTS of money for distractions (such as the iPod) to maintain their state of guilt-free ignorance.

[ April 15, 2008, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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aspectre
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The Endless Pursuit of Unneeded Junk.
Meat or Potatoes?

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MightyCow
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Warlords who force their poor to fight don't care if I bought an iPod or not. 1) They're already rich, my consumption of consumer products doesn't make a difference. 2) They don't care if their people fight with tanks or AK-47s or swords or pointy sticks, and one iPod buys infinitely many pointy sticks.

There are bad people the world over, who will do what they do no matter how meager my income or how controlled my spending. I still think it's misplaced guilt.

I don't need any electronics to both feel bad for people in a horrible situation, and at the same time to realize that my life doesn't directly impact them.

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Mucus
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Not to mention that American consumption of goods made in the developing world is probably the number one factor in reducing global poverty.
Buy your iPod with neutral pride, while one can definitely argue that the proceeds could be distributed much more fairly, you're still indirectly giving a Chinese/Indian factory worker the opportunity to earn much more than they would farming.

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Lyrhawn
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I read an article this morning that said Brazil has a potential new oil find, possibly as much as 33 BILLION barrels, which is more than the entire US proven reserve, and would I think make it bigger than Ghawar, the big Saudi oil field that's been their bread and butter for five decades. Champions of oil are hailing it as the silver bullet to the world's oil problems, but even if it's real, it'll be ten years before any of it gets out of the ground, and demand will balloon by then.
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aspectre
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Well, I guess we know who doesn't want to be in MitD*s secret club.

Rice and the Australian drought. "Let them drink chardonnay."

* Monster in the Dark

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aspectre
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Yep, jes keep those iPods blasting away to drown out the whimpers of those too weak to scream.

[ April 18, 2008, 07:01 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Morbo
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Are you really using consumer electronics to take us to task about our consumer electronics? Bravo for the involuted hypocrisy.
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lem
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About peak oil:

I am in the camp that believes oil is made from an abiotic source and is probably percolating through the crust and refilling the fields--albeit at a slower rate then consumption, making peak oil still a probability. However I have read that we currently have plenty of oil to meet demand. What we don't have is increased refining capacity to make gasoline.

In the US we are experiencing "peak refining capacity" coupled with a declining dollar. Add in to the mix our dependency on oil in countries that are looking to be increasingly unstable and we still have a nightmare scenario.


When oil gets too expensive I see us moving to shale. Utah's and Colorado's economy will do quite nicely.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
I am in the camp that believes oil is made from an abiotic source and is probably percolating through the crust and refilling the fields--albeit at a slower rate then consumption, making peak oil still a probability. However I have read that we currently have plenty of oil to meet demand. What we don't have is increased refining capacity to make gasoline.
You do realize that there is at best minimal evidence to support this idea and that in fact the carbon isotope ratio and the traces of biological organism found in all know oil and coal reserves are better explained by biological organism than abiogenesis.
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Morbo
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The Economist has a sobering article that states "The era of cheap food is over." In addition to the biofuels mess, they point to the economic success of China and India as a big factor driving increased demand.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
I am in the camp that believes oil is made from an abiotic source and is probably percolating through the crust and refilling the fields--albeit at a slower rate then consumption, making peak oil still a probability. However I have read that we currently have plenty of oil to meet demand. What we don't have is increased refining capacity to make gasoline.
You do realize that there is at best minimal evidence to support this idea and that in fact the carbon isotope ratio and the traces of biological organism found in all know oil and coal reserves are better explained by biological organism than abiogenesis.
If rotting meat can spawn flies then surely something else can create oil! [Wink]
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scholarette
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http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/24/rice.prices.ap/index.html
I find this a little disturbing. I don't buy my rice in bulk like that, but I like having the option.

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Sterling
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It's hard to imagine buying more than eighty pounds of rice at a time unless one runs a restaurant.
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aspectre
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http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rice24apr24,0,3320375.story
Family of four, half pound of rice per day per person, 80pounds of rice per 20days. The price of rice has tripled from last year, with most of that rise still to come since ya last bought rice due to storage lag between producer price and consumer cost.
Put in the perspective of a more typically American diet... It takes ~80pounds of grain to produce 8pounds of beef. The cost of beef is gonna triple. Will you ignore that tripling the next time you go shopping?
Possibly, cuz of a lack of freezer space. But ya don't need a special storage facility for rice.
Possibly, cuz ya can give up beef for rice. But ya can't give up rice for something cheaper.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,547198,00.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,549224,00.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,549136,00.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,549187,00.html

[ April 25, 2008, 01:46 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
But ya can't give up rice for something cheaper.
I seem to recall in one of Kurosawa's films (Yojimbo?) the peasants who went out to hire a Samurai gave up all their rice to give to the Samurai and lived off of something cheaper -- millet, I think it was.

Nevertheless, this nitpick doesn't in any way invalidate your point.

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Godric 2.0
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I read an article this morning that said Brazil has a potential new oil find, possibly as much as 33 BILLION barrels, which is more than the entire US proven reserve, and would I think make it bigger than Ghawar, the big Saudi oil field that's been their bread and butter for five decades. Champions of oil are hailing it as the silver bullet to the world's oil problems, but even if it's real, it'll be ten years before any of it gets out of the ground, and demand will balloon by then.

Where's Daniel Plainview when you need him?

Seriously, though, why as much as 10 years?

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Morbo
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quote:
But ya can't give up rice for something cheaper.
Let them eat mud. [Frown] That's one of the saddest things I've ever read: the poor in Haiti are eating mud with oil and salt.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Godric 2.0:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I read an article this morning that said Brazil has a potential new oil find, possibly as much as 33 BILLION barrels, which is more than the entire US proven reserve, and would I think make it bigger than Ghawar, the big Saudi oil field that's been their bread and butter for five decades. Champions of oil are hailing it as the silver bullet to the world's oil problems, but even if it's real, it'll be ten years before any of it gets out of the ground, and demand will balloon by then.

Where's Daniel Plainview when you need him?

Seriously, though, why as much as 10 years?

Several reasons. It's deep sea drilling, in that, this is expensive to reach oil. You need special platforms to get to it, they have to be built, moved into place, you have to drill test beds, you have to build undersea pipelines back to the mainland, you have to do tests on it. And even when you get it out of the ground, it's still not going to be coming out in very large numbers until you get more wells drilled and more platforms in place.

It's a similar argument with ANWR, only possibly worst because of permafrost issues thanks to a warming local environment. We've already gotten to all the easy oil. All the oil we're getting now is the expensive harder to reach stuff.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by lem:

However I have read that we currently have plenty of oil to meet demand. What we don't have is increased refining capacity to make gasoline.

In the US we are experiencing "peak refining capacity" coupled with a declining dollar. Add in to the mix our dependency on oil in countries that are looking to be increasingly unstable and we still have a nightmare scenario.


When oil gets too expensive I see us moving to shale. Utah's and Colorado's economy will do quite nicely.

We currently have oil to meet demand, I'd say we even have enough to flood the market and bottom out the price, but OPEC won't do that. It's in none of their interests to do so. There is no alternative to oil currently, so lowering the price has no advantage to them so long as they have a monopoly on a fuel source that is irreplaceable. But it won't be that forever. A lot of Saudi oil fields are returning more water than oil. Water was injected into some of the fields to speed output to pump it out faster, but they're returning more water than oil now. When you look at the speed in the increase of demand for oil, the price is only going to steadily increase, until we reach a breaking point. I think long before we actually run out of oil, we'll reach a point where oil is just too expensive to use. I think market forces and technology will make it so we never actually run out, at least not for a long time, and by the time we do we'll have plenty of replacements. I'm not worried, so long as we start the ball rolling on the next generation, and we are.

There's a bit of a myth out there that there hasn't been any new refinery capacity added since that last brand new refinery was built all those years ago. Refineries have been steadily adding capacity, by building additions to current facilities that for all and intents and purposes are new refineries. We've drastically increased our refining capability over the years. But demand needs to taper off. I'm okay with not building more refineries, just like I'm okay with a raised gas tax, because we need to force reductions in useage if we're ever going to dig ourselves out of this hole.

Shale isn't quite ready yet. Economically it's pretty much there. World oil prices under $80 a barrel don't really make it viable, but with oil consistantly over $100, you'll start to see a major push for it, but it won't be so easy perhaps. There are major environmental concerns about shale, and the massive shale deposits in Utah, Colorado, Montana etc out west almost all sit on Federal land. The government has let several large oil companies like Shell and Exxon test technologies at small sites, and it looks like Shell is the furthest along, but it's a complicated procss that is expensive and fraught with potential danger. First they have to insert rods into the ground to freeze the ground underneath the shale. This is done so oil can't leech into the groundwater supply. Then they have to insert rods into the shale itself to basically cook it, then extract it. Shale is just oil a few millions years too young, it hasn't turned to light sweet crude yet, so they bump the process along, suck it out and send it off to be refined. Before this process I believe that removed the rock, refined it into oil and then refined it again into fuel, which made it considerably more expensive.

The process devastates the environment above it too. You can't just dig a well and suck it up. Vast swaths of forested land would have to be dug up, with displaced native species and huge old growth forests destroyed. Any plan would of course have to include land reclamation after they are done with it (also adding to the cost) but I'm guessing that won't make any environmentalists satisfied considering the initial damage done. I think shale is a few years away yet, and I think Congress could still block the leasing of Federal land to do it.

I'm not even sure how necessary it'll be. Less destructive forms of biofuel will probably be well ahead of cost parity with oil by the time shale becomes viable, and they'll be far less destructive to the environment and to our health.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
I read an article this morning that said Brazil has a potential new oil find, possibly as much as 33 BILLION barrels.
I'll believe it when the oil starts flowing. I have yet to see an oil discovery that began with "potential new find of XX Billion barrels" to pan out to be anything like the original estimates. What this means is that the initial geological surveys have located a geological formation that might contain some amount of oil. Since this is a deep sea location, it is unlikely that they have even drilled one test hole yet which means that it might not contain a single drop oil. The initial estimates for this things are always extremely optimistic in part because they are trying to attract investors.
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Lyrhawn
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::shrug:: Just relaying what the article said, it wasn't a big deal to me one way or the other. I don't think, even if it were true, that it'd be anywhere near the salvation some are claiming.
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aspectre
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The economics of global hunger.
Rising sea-levels and the loss of rice fields.
GlobalWarming 's effect upon SouthAmerican glaciers leading to the loss of irrigation water.

[ April 27, 2008, 08:23 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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aspectre
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"This is a basic problem, to feed 6.6 billion people. Without chemical fertilizer, forget it. The game is over."
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aspectre
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"Americans eat an average of 3,770 calories per capita a day...compared to 2,440 calories in India. They are also the largest per capita consumers in any major economy of beef, the most energy-intensive common food source....The United States and Canada top the world in oil consumption per person..."
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Adam_S
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it's not ethanol, although the correlation is there it's not the cause, but because ethanol is the new factor it gets the blame. It's actually a complex relationship of factors driving up the price of food in which ethanol has a relatively minor role. Primarily the cost of fuel has the largest impact, when most of your fruit and vegetables travel at least three thousand miles to reach your grocery store you've got significant transportation costs involved, additionally most processed foods travel extensively as well. There's really only five major dairy conglomerates in the United States anymore so most of those products are traveling a great distance as well. When fuel was cheap the distance food had to travel didn't matter and economies of scale could consolidate production to a few localities, now that strategy is backfiring, and the lack of local production of dairy, meat, grains and produce is finally biting us in the behind.

Furthermore, corn based ethanol only processes the carbohydrate portion of the grain, the protein portion is then returned to the food supply as Distiller's Grain a high quality protein feed in strong demand (meaning corn would be processed into this grain anyway and the carbohydrate portion probably discarded as waste). On top of this plants are coming online that can also process cellulosic ethanol, meaning the corn cobs, stalks and leaves--along with other possibilities such as switchgrass--will also be processed into ethanol.

Increase the price of oil a dollar a barrel and you'll increase food prices 0.6% to 0.9%
increase the price of corn a dollar a bushel and you'll increase food prices 0.3%
http://www.ncga.com/news/notd/pdfs/061407_EthanolAndFoodPrices.pdf

The price of fuel will also cause increases in the price of corn due to the increased transportation costs of fertilizer, delivering crops, operation of farm machinery etc, farmers will have to pass on those costs.

Additionally we're experiencing the Bush administration's policy to have a weak dollar affecting commodity prices. Thank goodness the fed is done with rate cuts, or so they say.
http://tinyurl.com/5h2owo (Forbes link)

There has also been a surge of speculators now investing in the commodities market and they're driving up prices faster than prices might otherwise rise. however it's probably not a good idea to shut them out of the market, India tried it and it hasn't helped and if anything worsened the situation.
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/05/08/india_commodities/

on top of that demand for food is increasing as countries such as China, India, Brazil, and African nations such as Kenya are demanding higher quality and greater quantity of food, essentially a higher standard of living, and they're willing to pay for it.


and with virtually all commodities at a 200 year record high prices it's no wonder the cost of food is going up, demand is up.
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/05/12/growth_crisis/

But really it's all just due to ethanol subsidies. [Roll Eyes]

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fugu13
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Just? No, but they are a component, and they are having an effect. Corn is heavily consumed by large parts of the world's poorest populations, and even a slight drop in production going towards corn-based food (animal feed yields far fewer calories for the same input) creates a huge burden on those consuming corn as a large part of their diets.
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scholarette
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
"Americans eat an average of 3,770 calories per capita a day...compared to 2,440 calories in India. They are also the largest per capita consumers in any major economy of beef, the most energy-intensive common food source....The United States and Canada top the world in oil consumption per person..."

3770 calories? How is that possible?
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aspectre
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CO2-acidified sea water eating away at marine life
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roxy
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Up until about five months ago I lived in rural Southeastern Idaho. The rise in wheat costs has very little to do with "ethanol corn". Does anyone remember all the devastating floods our nation experienced last year? The wheat crop in our country took a HUGE toll. Also, other areas experienced severe drought. These natural occurances weren't only in our country. Look it up. Our wheat supply is simply much smaller than it used to be.
Last I heard, the market price for wheat was somewhere near $14 a bushel for last year's crop. This year's crop is expected to at least meet that, even with all the farmers that are taking advantage of the market. Around here, at least, we're expecting other crop prices (specifically potatoes) to go up as the wheat slowly comes down simply because everyone around here is planting wheat [Smile] .

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aspectre
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?Six barrels of oil to raise one cow? and nine meals from anarchy.

"3770 calories? How is that possible?"

Could be counting the calories needed to produce the excess meat that Americans consume.
Then again, Americans are rather rotund.

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aspectre
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1024879/The-best-challenge---One-man-boldly-goes-use-dates-food.html
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luthe
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That is an interesting article. I agreed right up to the point where he ate the moldy bread.
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Nato
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Just don't smoke moldy bread--your lungs can't take it as well as your stomach.
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aspectre
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Probably NOT a good idea.
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aspectre
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""The planting has gotten off to a poor start...The anxiety level is increasing."

And hovering over it all are the same vultures who created the CreditCrunch, bidding up grain and oil futures using cheap loans that were supposed to be used to clean up their mortgage mess.

[ June 10, 2008, 10:01 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Juxtapose
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
"Americans eat an average of 3,770 calories per capita a day...compared to 2,440 calories in India. They are also the largest per capita consumers in any major economy of beef, the most energy-intensive common food source....The United States and Canada top the world in oil consumption per person..."

Not according to the USDA.

EDIT - to make things easy, the USDA number is 2757, which while still high, is not quite as obscene.

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The Rabbit
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The USDA number is adjusted to exclude food waste. I wonder if the UN numbers are for total consumption, that is everything that is wasted as well as what is eaten.

We waste an enormous amount of food in the US. It wouldn't surprise me at all if we were wasting 1/4 of total food consumption.

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Wendybird
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A lot of people eat more calories then they suspect. For instance a McDonalds Big Mac, large fries and large coke contains 1420 calories - in just one meal! If you look at averages I would suspect the real number is somewhere between the USDA and the UN. Its only been in the last few years that there has been more of a push toward healthier eating.
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aspectre
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Warm water diseases killing Alaskan salmon.
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aspectre
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Let them eat jellyfish.
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Tatiana
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So what are people doing to help the global food crisis? I haven't come up with a good response really. I gave extra to the church's humanitarian fund emergency relief fund, but that's really for the Myanmar cyclone and China earthquake. I have been doing more kiva lending, particularly food production businesses, but that's only helping those who can work and earn a return on the investment.

What about people who are just plain hungry? Like little kids and old people and sick people? How can I help them get through this bad time? I'm wanting to pare down my life and do more for people who need it more than me. What are some of the ways I can do that?

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quidscribis
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Tatiana, I have no answers for you. For me, I'm starting a container garden using rice bags for containers (recycling and reusing), and once I have a handle on it, I'm planning on approaching the Relief Society president at church about teaching a class on composting (I do this already anyway) and gardening to help the other women learn how to do this for themselves. Spread the word on how easy it is to grow a container garden and the benefits of doing such.

The rice bag gardens are on the rise here anyway. Our next door neighbor has two dozen rice bags with stuff growing in them, still in their very early stages. But if I can help spread the goodness of growing as much as you can or is suitable for your own circumstances, then I'm happy. It won't mean spending no money at the grocery shops and stalls, but it might make enough of a difference that more people can survive better.

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aspectre
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Good enough reason to reject the EU Treaty.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1029715/Market-trader-banned-selling-kiwi-fruits-MILLIMETRE-small.html

The US has similar regulations that serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever other than to drive up the price of food.

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