Monday, April 14, 2008

TIME magazine: How Hunger Could Topple Regimes

Bit late to the party, TIME magazine.

I wonder when, and if, the TV "news" here in America will report on this story.

Source: TIME magazine article

The headlines of the past month suggest that skyrocketing food prices are threatening the stability of a growing number of governments around the world. Ironically, it may be the very success of capitalism in transforming regions previously restrained by various forms of socialism that has helped create the new crisis.

No shit - all that free market crap is not so good in real life, eh, neocons?

World Bank president Robert Zoellick noted last week that world food prices had risen 80% over the past three years, and warned that at least 33 countries face social unrest as a result.

Where have we seen tha quote before?

Oh yeah - on this very blog.

The sociology of the food riot is pretty straightforward: The usually impoverished majority of citizens may acquiesce to the rule of detested corrupt and repressive regimes when they are preoccupied with the daily struggle to feed their children and themselves, but when circumstances render it impossible to feed their hungry children, normally passive citizens can very quickly become militants with nothing to lose. That's especially true when the source of their hunger is not the absence of food supplies but their inability to afford to buy the available food supplies.

No shit - people live in totalitarian dictatorships (that usually are propped up and supported by the USA, like Egypt, Haiti (calling Haiti a democracy at this point is an insult to the very idea of democracy), and many, many African nations. They get by, focusing on the daily struggle to survive.

Now, when even the very ability to survive is taken away from them, what will those desperate people do?

When all that stands between hungry people and a warehouse full of rice and beans is a couple of padlocks and a riot policeman (who may be the neighbor of those who're trying to get past him, and whose own family may be hungry too), the invisible barricade of private-property laws can be easily ignored.

Ahh that free market that solves all the world's problems, right, neocons?

The rapid industrialization of China and India over the past two decades — and the resultant growth of a new middle class fast approaching the size of America's — has driven demand for oil toward the limits of global supply capacity. That has pushed oil prices to levels five times what they were in the mid 1990s, which has also raised pressure on food prices by driving up agricultural costs and by prompting the substitution of biofuel crops for edible ones on scarce farmland. Moreover, those new middle class people are eating a lot better than their parents did — particularly more meat. Producing a single calorie of beef can, by some estimates, require eight or more calories of grain feed, and expanded meat consumption therefore has a multiplier effect on demand for grains. Throw in climate disasters such as the Australian drought and recent rice crop failures,

Again, who FIRST made these points:
"Substitution of biofuel crops for edible ones on scarce farmland",

"Producing a single calorie of beef can, by some estimates, require eight or more calories of grain feed, and expanded meat consumption therefore has a multiplier effect on demand for grains.",

"Throw in climate disasters such as the Australian drought and recent rice crop failures"

Oh yeah - perhaps this obscure blog did?

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Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of "switchgrass"?

I dont know if that is all hype, but I wouldn't mind letting the government cut my yard for me and use the grass-clippings to make ethanol instead of our farmers making less food to make ethanol.

The last time I filled up at the pump (Ford 500---27.4 mpg actual on highway despite advertising it gets 29, which Ive never been able to get), a full 20% of the gas at the pump was ethanol.

20% is quite alot (not like 3-4% which is about what I thought it was). I can see why the admin thinks it can suppress oil prices at least a little bit by using ethanol. I really think we need to get on oil exploration here (off the coasts, Prudhomme Bay, ANWR, shale, etc.) because China and India are just going to be needing/buying more and more oil in the future. The Chinese Government in particular, doesn't seem to give a rats about the environment.

The amount of energy it takes to make meat (beef in particular) is unfortunate. I'd hate to give up steaks and burgers at some point in the future...............but someday if the world's population keeps on rising.... Actually its the third world who keeps making so many damned babies. For the life of me I'll never understand why we cannot communicate to a mother in Africa that seven kids is just going to make her life harder and harder, but I digress.

Parting note: Have you ever wondered if some sort of "muzzler" cold be fitted on tailpipes that attempted to specifically collect CO2, that could be changed out when you get an oil change every 3-5 thousand (5 if you use synthetic oil) miles? If something like that could be devised that could "capture" a signifigant portion of the CO2 or just the Carbon...........perhaps it would get the global warming crowd to give us a little more time to come up with a viable energy solution.

Unrelated: I hope Im wrong, but I get a bad feeling Bush is going to try an attack Iran before the summer is up. I hope Im wrong about that, but Petraus is saying everything Cheney would like to hear.

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