Sunday, July 6, 2014

Peak Food

Peak food: The U.N.'s Food Price Index reached a new high in February 2011, exacerbating poverty in developing countries and creating potential for civil unrest. "Peak water" entered the popular lexicon in 2010, after two scientists classified threats to human use of rivers and underground aquifers, and to ecological stability. Peak coffee, peak chocolate, peak rare earth metals, peak travel have all followed suit. It's "peak" season.
Two simple trends are driving these concerns. The world has more people than ever, and more of those people than ever are breaking out of abject poverty and competing in a global market for goods and resources.
The human population passed 7 billion last year, and the U.N. projects it will top 9.3 billion by 2050. Most of the growth is occurring in Asia, where the population is on track to balloon 40 percent, to 8 billion, by midcentury.
An even bigger human accomplishment, and cause for worry, is the rise of the middle class. It's expected to nearly triple in the next two decades, to 4.9 billion people in 2030 from 1.8 billion today, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development. The Global Footprint Network, which developed a resource-accounting tool for countries, puts it this way: At current consumption rates, we'll need two Earths by 2030.

Are We About to Hit Peak Fertilizer?

By Occupy Monsanto

This article, Are We About to Hit Peak Fertilizer?, is syndicated from and is reposted here with permission. (

Everyone knows about how the advent of artificial fertilizers and pest controls altered the face of agriculture around the world during the Green Revolution more than half a century ago. And while few people are fully ignorant of the damage done to the environment through the use of these synthetic pesticides (and fertilizers), not many people have given much any thought to what will happen when we run out of these vital resources; which is nearing much faster than you might have guessed.

If you’ve ever used fertilizers you have probably at least seen their N-P-K ratings on the bag, standing for the three main fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is quite plentiful and renewable, despite being the most damaging environmentally and largely being synthesized from natural gas, but the same is not true for phosphorus (bone meal) and potassium (potash). These vital minerals exist in quite limited quantities and cannot currently be feasibly synthesized, which causes major problems. The world’s phosphorus supply comes almost exclusively out of relatively unstable Morocco, and potassium from Canada and the former states of the Soviet Union, potentially making them future sites for “fertilizer wars” similar to the last century in the Middle East when supplies can’t easily keep up with demand.

Nitrogen is easy, even your urine is and effective source for feeding it to plants (think ammonia), phosphorus could be recycled to some degree if we returned to a practice utilized in some societies in the past of using human and animal skeletons as the source (if that doesn’t bother you), but potassium isn’t something we can easily do much anything about and is an extremely important nutrient to our own bodies as well. If you’re curious at all about how fickle the world’s potassium supply just ask someone who tried to find some to protect themselves from possible nuclear fallout from Fukushima recently, and they’ll be happy to tell you about how purchases globally were immediately put under strict controls in case of emergency needs and to prevent stockpiling from disrupting the global market. This is not something we want to have to deal with, but at some point we’re not going to have a choice.

Think about these issues when you’re considering whether or not to go with small scale organic foods or extremely wasteful and disrupting industrial ones, or you may end up help flushing out our saving grace to the sea. Also of note is that Monsanto’s infamous Round Up (glyphosate) used so plentifully around the world on GMO staple crops is specifically designed to chelate or lock up vital nutrients such of these in the soil, almost permanently sealing them away from being absorbed for use in the future, as that’s how it kills plants so effectively. (

By Michael, on October 16th, 2012

For six of the last eleven years the world has consumed more food than it has produced.  This year, drought in the United States and elsewhere has put even more pressure on global food supplies than usual.  As a result, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years.  Experts are warning that if next summer is similar to this summer that it could be enough to trigger a major global food crisis.  At this point, the world is literally living from one year to the next.  There is simply not much of a buffer left.  In the western world, the first place where we are going to notice the impact of this crisis is in the price of food.  It is being projected that overall food prices will rise between 5 and 20 percent by the end of this year.  It is becoming increasingly clear that the world has reached a tipping point.  We aren't producing enough food for everyone anymore, and food reserves will continue to get lower and lower.  Eventually they will be totally gone.

The United Nations has issued an unprecedented warning about the state of global food supplies.  According to the UN, global food reserves have not been this low since 1974...

But the population of the globe is much larger than it was back in 1974.  So needless to say, we have a major league problem on our hands.

The United States exports more food than anyone else in the world, and so the devastating drought that the U.S. experienced this summer is putting a lot of stress on the entire global food system.

According to Reuters, the drought hit U.S. ranchers particularly hard.  Many of them had to kill off large portions of their herds because they couldn't afford to feed them any longer.  So there was a short-term surge in the supply of meat, but because herds are smaller now in the long-term the supply of meat is going to become much tighter.  So expect meat prices to start to go up significantly...

Many Americans will be shocked by rising food prices, but at least for now we won't have to deal with actual food shortages like many on the other side of the globe will be soon.
At the end of August, the World Bank issued a global hunger warning...

How would you feel if you only got one meal per day?

In many parts of India and in many parts of Africa more than 40 percent of all children have stunted growth due to malnutrition and a lack of clean water.

So if your family has enough to eat and drink every day you should be thankful for your blessings.
What makes things even worse is that the big banks have turned betting on the price of food into a giant casino game.

Many are making huge amounts of money through commodity speculation, but by driving up prices they are severely hurting millions of families on the other side of the planet.  The following is from a recent article by Heather Stewart...

The era of seemingly endless cheap food has come to an end.  In future years, there simply will not be enough food for everyone on the globe.  Some people are going to go hungry.  That is one reason why I am encouraging everyone to start preparing for the coming global food crisis.

Some experts are projecting the worst for the years ahead...

Global food prices sharply rebounded in July due to wild swings in weather conditions, a UN food and agricultural body has said.
The rise has fanned fresh fears of a repeat of the 2007-2008 food crisis which hurt the world's poorest.
Untimely rains in Brazil, drought in the US and production difficulties in Russia drove the rally,said the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Food prices jumped 6% in July from June after falling three months in a row.
The FAO food price index measures the monthly price changes for a basket of food commodities including cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar. The index reading in July was still well below the all-time high reached in February 2011.
The Rome-based organisation took the surprise step of publishing the index this month - which it usually does not - due to the exceptional market conditions affected by unusual weather patterns.

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