Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Coming Famine

In the coming year, we run a risk of worldwide food shortages. This will come in two forms. In third world countries there will be widespread starvation, as availability of food simply disappears. In developed countries prices will spike, and the poor in those countries will not have enough to eat, despite attempts by governments and charitable organizations to keep pace with the skyrocketing needs.

There will, of course, be people of wealth (about 2% to 5% of the population) in third world countries that will have sufficient wealth to have plenty. They will even be involved in profiteering off the misery of the masses, and the attempts by charitable organizations to deliver food to those masses.
There will also be some in between situations, where food will be available, though in short supply and at exorbitant prices, and in those places there will be riots and wars.

There have been a couple of close calls in the past, with world food inventories falling to near zero, political and market forces pushing food to the wealthy and well connected and for short
times there was starvation in some regions.

I will admit I could not find good references to the information, but I do remember around 1996, there was an article saying we were down to three weeks food in the US. But of course, the next crops were harvested and things went back to normal. And in reality, we are in perpetually the same shape today as we were in that close call. Only now we call it "Just in Time Supply System."

America once had massive warehouses, and silos dotted the land, full of food, stored up for times of need. Or at least stored until someone ordered it to fill our grocery shelves. But that system was deemed inefficient, as someone had to pay for those warehouses. Now, the "Just in Time" system forecasts needs, and computers know the moment there is a sale of an item from the grocery, so that the next shipment of a product is in route to the store as the sale of the previous one is being sold. The next shipment of the product to the distribution center is in route as the current one is being loaded onto the truck to be taken to the store. The next shipment after that is being harvested somewhere in the world, and already earmarked for delivery to the distribution center. It is all like a big pipeline.

In this system there are no major grain stores or warehouses. What is in the pipeline is what is in the system. And last I checked, that amounts to about seven weeks of supplies, total. This system works, as long as crops somewhere in the world are being harvested on a continued basis, and as long as when one food gets short people can eat something else.

We are coming to a day in the very near future, somewhere in late 2011 or early 2012 (most likely), crop failures all over the world will have a real and lasting impact on our food supply. Right now, no one is talking about this because it is so subtle. (as in epidemics, we seem to have two modes of thinking, complacency and panic) In reality, we are likely to see only 15% - 30% drop in crop availability. But that can translate to doubling or more of the prices here, and complete loss of availability in some regions.

But this isn't going to be a one week or one month event. There are impending crop failures all around the world right now, and these failures will happen over a period of months or maybe even years, and as the world population continues to rise, the shortages generated in 2012 will continue to echo across the world for years. And the political fallout, as the wealthy and well connected attempt to try to enrich themselves on the plight of the masses, will result in massive consolidation of power and control over increasingly scarce and valuable commodities.

It is not like this has not been warned about before. While most of the "news" releases about an impending famine have been self serving panic ads meant to make people buy their products, some of them are from the science community, and some of those were from people who will not directly benefit from the changes they advocate. Most of those have been talking about a famine 20 or more years down the road, but with the sudden rash of crop failures around the globe, it may be at our door step within the next year or two.

The Bible warns us in The Revelation, there will be a famine in the last days. It says the famine will be bad enough that a laborer's wages for a day will be sufficient only to feed him for a day, with nothing left over for housing, a family, or anything else. The only question, now, should be: is this the one the Bible talks about, or is this merely a harbinger of what is to come?

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