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Monday Message Board

December 13th, 2010

It’s time again, once again, for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpit, please.

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  1. Salient Green
    December 16th, 2010 at 13:34 | #1

    Since supplies of oil and gas are essential to modern agriculture techniques, a fall in global oil supplies could cause spiking food prices and unprecedented famine in the coming decades.

    Falling oil supplies will lead to more environmental disasters of increasing catastrophe as oil sands, deeper marine wells and national parks are exploited.

    The bankruptcies will be enormous as people adjust their buying habits radically in trying to cope with rising prices of everything.

  2. Jarrah
    December 16th, 2010 at 14:24 | #2

    “a fall in global oil supplies could cause spiking food prices ”

    This assumes a sudden dip in food stocks. Considering the massive over-production in the US and Europe at the moment, this is a dubious proposition. So much corn is grown in the US, for example, that they have to keep coming up with ways to use it all. That’s why HFCS is getting into everything. If that stopped, it would be an unalloyed good.

    It also assumes that no alternative fertiliser or cropping technique or fuel source is imaginable, and that people will continue with BAU until catastrophe strikes. This is plainly ridiculous.

  3. Salient Green
    December 16th, 2010 at 18:29 | #3

    While it stimulates ideas as part of the discussion here, arguing against a sudden dip in food stocks due to falling oil supplies would not be wise in the real world.

    Falling oils supplies/rising oil prices would almost certainly divert a larger portion of suitable crops for fuel production. We have already seen an example of what happens after this type of diversion when the US mandated ethanol production.

    Farmers find it hard to pass on price rises unless they produce less. When fertiliser, chemical and fuel costs rise faster than the rest of the economy and their returns, some land will be diverted for fuel, crops of lower or risky returns will not be grown and there will be skimping on fertiliser and chemical use which will lead to reduced production.

    Of course there are alternative fertiliser and cropping techniques, and they are probably much more sustainable and produce food which is healthier for us, but production levels are lower and the changeover period could see many crop failures as farmers learn to work with the environment instead of against it.

    Adverse weather could aggravate a peak oil condition to cause a drop in food supply greater than the sum of the parts.

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