Scarcity Means Dollars?

by Nigel Bolton-Shaw on September 17, 2012

Over at the TriplePundit blog this week we find this article, “Why Water Scarcity Means Food Scarcity” by guest author Andy Wales.

The article, as its title suggests, focuses on the inter-relationship between food and water – with the precipitating event for upcoming scarcity having to do population growth.

Wales points out that the Chinese middle class is bigger than the population of the US, and surprisingly Africa is in a similar situation, the number of the middle classes being 350 million each.

Upward mobility puts greater stress on resources. Clean water, for instance, is not just necessary for health. It also becomes a business need and a necessity for sustaining lifestyles and better nutrition.

About 70 percent of fresh water goes for food, according to Wales. And that number will only rise as population increases.  Bottom line: food production will have to go up by 70 percent by 2050.

Wales also believes that climate change is an issue, retarding growth of foodstuffs by up to 20 percent or more. Part of the solution may lie in revitalizing watersheds by salvaging the soil via vegetation that retards runoff.

If conservation is not stepped up, there are those predicting dire consequences indeed. A recent article in the Guardian entitled “Will Meat on Your Plate Become a Once-in-a-Blue Moon Extravagance,” focuses on such possibilities. Subtitle:  “Water scarcity and food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists.”

The article profiles a warning by scientists about food availability, forecasting that food may become so scarce within the next half century that enforced vegetarianism is a likely result.

Doug Casey on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Today’s Journalism

In this interview by Louis James, legendary speculator Doug Casey offers both bad news and good news regarding the activities of the Fourth Estate, and tells us why he believes that 300 million Americans are starving for talk straight from the heart.

Louis: Hola Doug. What’s on your mind this week?

Doug: The color yellow. As in “yellow journalism” – which seems almost the only kind we have these days. Of course, to be fair, inflammatory, shamelessly dishonest “man bites dog” journalism has always been the dominant kind, simply because it sells papers. But we’ll see more than the usual amount in the next couple of months, simply because elections lend themselves to it; politics seems to stimulate the reptilian part of the brain, the most primitive part. Both politics and the reptilian brain relate well to the yellow press.

Read more…

A drop in animal based protein from 20 percent to just five percent is probable, according to this scientific forecast. The drop will be driven by an additional two billion mouths that will stretch protein resources to the breaking point.

Warnings of water scarcity are offered by both Oxfam and the UN, with predictions of scarcity within the next five years. Costs for corn and wheat are rising on, as much as 50 percent in some cases.  Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East are all facing various shortages of foodstuffs – of the kind that caused rioting in 2008.

Vegetarianism is a rational choice for humanity according to various scientists, if scarcity continues to expand as suggested. Animal protein uses up to 10 times more water than vegetables. According to the article:

“Nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase … With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land.”

A report on these statistics is going to be published shortly at the annual world water conference in Stockholm, Sweden. The conference is growing in importance because of the additional pressure on foodstuffs. “Overeating, undernourishment and waste are all on the rise and increased food production may face future constraints from water scarcity.”

We can see the results in an article entitled “Punjab Wheat Shortage” appearing in The Times of India. It is not the crop that drives scarcity but demand. In this case, the article tells us that the food basket of India, Punjab, actually had record wheat production. And yet the regions flour mills are in danger of shutting down due to a lack of supply.

“With the entire wheat stock sold by farmers for the national food pool, the state is now at the mercy of the Centre, which is dragging its feet in releasing wheat. With flour mills and biscuit-makers units are facing acute shortage, and prices have shot up by up to 30% in the last one month.”

The Punjab wheat crop went mostly to the government national pool, and flour mill owners ended up buying weat from other regions of India. Unfortunately, these regions exported elsewhere as well, continuing the shortage.

Such shortages may become the “new normal” not just in India but throughout the world as population rises and foodstuff production fails to keep pace.

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