Saturday, November 03, 2007

Global food crisis looms as climate change and fuel shortages bite

A very interesting article was published in the Guardian today. This took my a while to find online as it is a climate change story that has moved out of the Environment section and into the World News section. That, i am sure, is going to be the way that things go.

The key claim of the article is that food prices are spiraling due to biofuels and climate change and that these effects are already politically significant in a large number of countries.
"India, Yemen, Mexico, Burkina Faso and several other countries have had, or been close to, food riots in the last year, something not seen in decades of low global food commodity prices. Meanwhile, there are shortages of beef, chicken and milk in Venezuela and other countries as governments try to keep a lid on food price inflation."
The situation was summed up best by Lester Brown:
"Lester Brown, president of the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute thinktank, said: "The competition for grain between the world's 800 million motorists, who want to maintain their mobility, and its 2 billion poorest people, who are simply trying to survive, is emerging as an epic issue."
According to a Worldwatch Institute article entitled "Climate Change: The Unseen Force Behind Rising Food Prices?":
"Climate change has been attributed to greater inconsistencies in agricultural conditions, ranging from more-erratic flood and drought cycles to longer growing seasons in typically colder climates. While the increase in Earth’s temperature is making some places wetter, it is also drying out already arid farming regions close to the Equator. This year’s Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report states that “increases in the frequency of droughts and floods are projected to affect local production negatively, especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes.” The decline in production in the face of growing demand can drive up prices in markets that may lack the technology to fight environmental hazards to overall production."

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