Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The myth of scarcity is about to become a reality

Quite often, at least in progressive circles, you hear of "the myth of scarcity". Basically, the point being made is that most famines don't result from not enough food, but from unequal distribution of food. And it's true - there is enough food to go around, for the time being. Unfortunately, as Gwynne Dyer points out, climate change and other factors are likely to complicate matters:

Is this food emergency a result of global warming? Maybe, but all these droughts, heat waves and floods could also just be a run of really bad luck.

What is nearly certain is that the warming will continue, and that in the future there will be many more weather disasters due to climate change. Food production is going to take a big hit.

Global food prices are already spiking whenever there are a few local crop failures, because the supply barely meets demand even now. As the big emerging economies grow, Chinese and Indian and Indonesian citizens eat more meat, which places a great strain on grain supplies.

Moreover, world population is now passing through seven billion, on its way to nine billion by 2050. We will need a lot more food than we used to.

From the Georgia Straight. When this happens, a very ugly word will have to become a big part of foreign aid - triage. It's already happening because many NGOs don't have the money to help everyone who needs it; climate change will ensure that we don't have the food. How will such decisions be made? How should they be made? I sure wouldn't like to be the one making those decisions...

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