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Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.
Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world’s leading water scientists.
“There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations,” the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.
“There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade.”
Dire warnings of water scarcity limiting food production come as Oxfam and the UN prepare for a possiblesecond global food crisis in five years. Prices for staples such as corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% oninternational markets since June, triggered by severe droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. More than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages across the Sahel.
Oxfam has forecast that the price spike will have a devastating impact in developing countries that rely heavily on food imports, including parts of Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East. Food shortagesin 2008 led to civil unrest in 28 countries.
Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world’s arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. Other options to feed people include eliminating waste and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit.
“Nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase,” they said. “With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land.”
The report is being released at the start of the annual world water conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where 2,500 politicians, UN bodies, non-governmental groups and researchers from 120 countries meet to address global water supply problems.
Competition for water between food production and other uses will intensify pressure on essential resources, the scientists said. “The UN predicts that we must increase food production by 70% by mid-century. This will place additional pressure on our already stressed water resources, at a time when we also need to allocate more water to satisfy global energy demand – which is expected to rise 60% over the coming 30 years – and to generate electricity for the 1.3 billion people currently without it,” said the report.
Overeating, undernourishment and waste are all on the rise and increased food production may face future constraints from water scarcity.
“We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future,” said the report’s editor, Anders Jägerskog.
A separate report from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said the best way for countries to protect millions of farmers from food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia was to help theminvest in small pumps and simple technology, rather than to develop expensive, large-scale irrigation projects.
“We’ve witnessed again and again what happens to the world’s poor – the majority of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and already suffer from water scarcity – when they are at the mercy of our fragile global food system,” said Dr Colin Chartres, the director general.
“Farmers across the developing world are increasingly relying on and benefiting from small-scale, locally-relevant water solutions. [These] techniques could increase yields up to 300% and add tens of billions of US dollars to household revenues across sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.”
This summer’s record-breaking drought may force millions of Americans to skip meals next year, as the cost of groceries is expected to rise.
The worst drought since the 1930’s Dust Bowl is taking a toll on US-grown crops, particularly corn, soybean and wheat harvests. More than 80 percent of agricultural land has been affected by the heat wave. It takes 10-12 months for these products to reach supermarket shelves, causing the shortage to be felt most severely in 2013.
More than 18 percent of Americans are already struggling to afford food, and a spike in grocery store food prices could worsen their already dismal situations, making hunger an even greater epidemic. One in six Americans already skip food for long periods of time, sometimes staying hungry for days.
A Gallup study found that in some states, nearly a quarter of the population does not have enough money for food. Mississippi holds the record, where 24.9 percent of citizens are too poor to put enough food on the table.
World leaders say there is enough food to feed both the US and the world.
“We are not saying that we anticipate a major crisis at this point,” said Juergen Voegele, director of the World Bank’s Agricultural and Rural Development Department.
But aside from the rising cost of food, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also found that Americans are throwing away 40 percent of all food in the country. That’s more than 20 pounds (9 kg) of thrown away food, per person per month.
Fruits and vegetables are thrown away at an even higher rate, with 52 percent of them ending up in the garbage.
“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path – that’s money and precious resources down the drain,” said NRDC project scientist Dana Gunders. “With the price of food continuing to grow, and drought jeaopardizing farmers nationwide, now is the time to embrace all the tremendous untapped opportunities to get more out of our food system. We can do better.”
If 15 percent less food were wasted, 25 million more Americans would be able to secure food on their tables, and the post-drought food shortage would take less of a toll on the wallets of the poorest citizens.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the severity of the U.S. drought may be peaking, but the impact on corn and soybean crops may not be known until harvest, according to a report from Bloomberg News.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the severity of the U.S. drought may be peaking, but the impact on corn and soybean crops may not be known until harvest, according to a report from Bloomberg News.
Steadying weather conditions may ease pressure to relax federal requirements for the use of corn to make ethanol, he added in an interview at the Iowa State Fair.
“The overall impact of the drought is beginning to decline,” Vilsack said. Uneven dryness from farm to farm make crop predictions difficult this year.
The condition of the nation’s soybean crop improved last week for the first time this year, and corn’s good-to-excellent ratings leveled off at 23%, as rain and cooler temperatures reduced plant stress, the USDA reported.
Moreover, drought conditions are expected to persist in the Corn Belt and the Great Plains through November, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a report yesterday. Lower temperatures and rain expected in parts of the Corn Belt won’t be sufficient to break the drought that has caused grain prices to soar for months, said Joel Widenor, co-founder of Commodity Weather Group, LLC in Bethesda, MD.
Vilsack said as USDA assesses the size and condition of this year’s harvest, it is also starting work on the drought’s impact on the farm economy. His department is starting to look at the potential consequences for next year’s crops in terms of credit availability and planning.
Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, has called for a suspension of the U.S. ethanol mandate to free up more corn for food and livestock feed. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated that the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency are contemplating what action to take regarding requests for waivers from state governors and more than 175 members of Congress.
For his part, Vilsack said he fears that waiving the ethanol mandate may bring long-term harm to investment in biofuel production without producing much relief for food prices.
I wish to inform all my brothers & sisters of an upcoming disaster, because very few know or want to know, that a blood bath of epic proportions is fast approaching for every livestock producer in the United States. I know many will say, “So what! What has that to do with me?” It has everything to do with anyone who eats beef, chicken, pork, goat, lamb, eggs, ANY KIND OF MEAT or drinks milk, it will affect you, your family, our country, the world.
Because of the two years of drought that many parts of our country has experienced, and the worst drought in 56 years our Country has experienced this past summer, farmers, ranchers, dairy men have been culling their livestock back which in itself will cause food prices to soar.
Droughts often mean higher prices for prime meat a season or more down the road, when smaller herds means fewer calves.
But what is going to put many livestock producers out of business completely is the perfect storm that has developed to cause the highest feed costs this country, and for that matter the world, has ever seen. The perfect storm is not only drought in this country and the Mississippi River drying up where most of the bulk grain is shipped world wide, but also the floods in other parts of the world that has destroyed vast amounts of crops. All the while the world population keeps increasing, with little stored back to feed people and livestock in bad times.
I just called my feed supplier today that my wife and I have used for years to feed our herd of meat goats we raise to ship to San Angelo, Texas to the big livestock auction barn. Last winter livestock producers were scrambling to find feed for $300 a ton. Theton price I was just quoted, and I want to remind you it is still summer, the ton price depending on what supplier I want for my breeders cubes, some call it cake, ranges from a low of $506 a ton to a high of $526 a ton!!! Winter is always the time of high prices. What I am trying to relay to you is many livestock producers will not be able to operate with this huge price increases for feed. And the ones who do survive will have to pass the cost along to the consumer or they cannot stay in business!
UPDATE FOR OCTOBER 5, 2012
I went and bought our latest ton of feed for our herd of goats and it came out to $573 a ton. Now I know the large operations in this area buy it by the truck load and not just a ton price like we do, and I am hearing that the truckload price, 12 tons and up is still in the upper $400 dollar a ton range. But you have to understand how historically high this is from normal at this time of year. These huge price increases for feed for livestock must be passed on to the consumer or the livestock producers will be out of business.
Bottom line expect huge price increases in the supermarkets this winter for any kind of meat, eggs, milk, bread, cereal ect. Take this warning seriously from someone who may not be a huge commercial operation, but is a small family rancher, that a blood bath comes our way for the producer and the consumer. May God have mercy on our country and its people. Amen
Bill Witherell is Cumberland’s Chief Global Economist.
The global food crisis of 2007-2008 is threatening to repeat in the coming months, as the worst drought in 50 years devastates the US corn crop, with 51% of the crop rated “Poor/very poor” by the US Department of Agriculture. This crop is said to be on a par with that of 1988 crop, the worst in the past thirty years. Note that the US is the top producer and exporter of corn. Our account for nearly half of the world’s corn and also a third of the world’s soybeans, the harvest for which will be the lowest in five years. The director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, José Graziano da Silva, characterizes the present global food situation as “precarious,” as do experts we have contacted.
The food crisis in 2008 led to riots in some 30, mainly very poor, countries and immeasurable hardships in many more. Following that crisis, governments vowed to act to improve global food security, including at a G8 Summit in Italy in 2009. The followup is reported to have been a mixture of some gains and some disappointments. Among the gains are the provision of improved strains of some crops and increased agricultural aid. There have been disappointments in the areas of humanitarian food aid and a failure to agree on binding agreements to regulate food export bans. The 2008 crisis was made more severe by export restrictions by some important agricultural producers, including Russia and the Ukraine.
The threat of a new crisis has led the governments of the twenty leading countries that make up the Group of 20 (the G20) to hold a conference call in the week of August 27, to arrange a meeting to discuss ways to avoid policies that would worsen the situation, such as export restrictions and hoarding. This would be the first meeting of the recently created Rapid Response Forum, which has the mandate to “promote early discussion among decision-level officials about abnormal international market conditions.”
One issue that is sure to be raised by the UN is biofuel policies and the government-mandated biofuel production targets of the US and European Union. The US is projected to divert about 40% of its corn crop into ethanol, and about 60% of Europe’s rapeseed crop goes to the production of biodiesel. Brazilian ethanol production consumes half of their sugarcane crop. This is a politically divisive issue, and we do not anticipate the G20 will be able to reach agreement on the UN’s call for an immediate suspension of biofuel production mandates.
There are several factors that are more positive in the current situation, as compared with 2007-8. The demand pressure from China and India is less than it was five years ago. Stocks of rice are high and rice prices have been fairly stable, although Thailand’s policy of stockpiling rice and thereby reducing exports is worrying. Wheat stocks are also said to be high, but Russia’s wheat production has been hurt by a drought. Production of African crops such as cassava has increased significantly. And the global economic slowdown has had a moderating effect on the demand for food.
On balance, as investment managers, we see the sharp increases in global food prices that have already begun and the potential for a global food crisis as a serious economic and geopolitical risk that capital markets appear to be underestimating. It is yet another reason Cumberland Advisors has moved to more defensive positions in our equity portfolios, maintaining cash positions in our US and International Portfolios and a higher than usual fixed-income position in our Global Multi-Asset Class Portfolios.
Countries that have felt able to move to significantly eased monetary policies to encourage growth, including many emerging markets, may soon be under pressure to reverse course as higher food prices increase the risk of more general inflation. Higher food prices will hurt consumer demand in all countries, particularly those where food accounts for a high share of total consumer spending. On the other hand, the equity markets of food-exporting countries such as Australia, Canada, and Brazil would be expected to benefit from the higher agricultural prices.
August 17, 2012 – Two Indian States Declare Drought Emergencies: India’s shortage of monsoon rainfall was brought into focus Thursday, with two states formally declaring rain-deprived areas to be in drought and with Parliament likely to take additional steps to mitigate the impact of the rain deficiency on the broader economy. Pictured above, a boy walks on the parched land which was once a pond in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India.
Junior Farm Minister Harish Rawat said Thursday that the northwestern state of Rajasthan and the southern state of Karnataka have declared drought in some areas of their respective states and are seeking relief from the federal government. A government team is assessing conditions in the areas, and any further measures can be taken only after parliamentary debate Thursday, he told reporters.
Rainfall across the country has been 15% below the long-term average so far this monsoon season, which started June 1. The seasonal rainfall is critical to agriculture in India, where more than 60% of the farmland is rain-fed, with around 600 million people working directly in the sector.
Meanwhile, reduced harvests could prompt soaring food prices that could propel inflation back into double digits after a period of relatively moderate consumer-price-index growth. Inflation fell to the slowest rate in nearly three years in July, raising hopes for interest rate cuts to spur the economy, but at nearly 7%, it is hardly under control.
If the government increases its subsidy burden to take the sting off the country’s agricultural sector, it will likely widen an already ballooning fiscal deficit and make the prospect of providing economic stimulus in other areas more challenging. Pictured above, India’s national bird – the Peacock – is threatened by the national drought.
In recent weeks the government has provided a diesel-price subsidy to farmers, increased the subsidy for seeds and removed an import tax on oil meals.
Mr. Rawat said a shortage of rainfall has also affected the cultivation of summer-sown crops in other parts of the country.
The northern states of Punjab and Haryana as well as parts of the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat haven’t declared drought yet, but are facing very dry conditions, he said.
But he added that, overall, crops will likely fare better this year than during the country’s last drought, in 2009, the worst drought the country suffered in nearly four decades.
He said the total area affected by drought is slightly smaller than in 2009, when the government banned exports of most food grains due to drastically reduced output.
Coarse cereals, including corn, have been hit hardest by poor rainfall, he said.
“We have already launched a contingency plan in 320 districts to cope with the rainfall situation,” he said. Among other initiatives the government has been providing drinking water where there are supply shortages, distributing seeds to replace wilted crops and providing feed grains for cattle. (Credits: Picture – The European Pressphoto Agency, Narrative – The Wall Street Journal).
The Master of Disaster
Published on Aug 17, 2012 by IPREACH4
Video not produced or owned by IPREACH4
Video credit to YouTube user: fidockave213
Original Video: http://youtu.be/rDcInLbAoiA
credit – Glacier footage - http://www.youtube.com/user/Barbecueengineer
” And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”
Luke 21: 25-28
Praise The Lord ††† Amen!
Maranatha! Maranatha! Maranatha!
The worst drought in more than 50 years is having a devastating impact on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi has become very thin and very narrow, and if it keeps on dropping there is a very real possibility that all river traffic could get shut down. And considering the fact that approximately 60 percent of our grain, 22 percent of our oil and natural gas, and and one-fifth of our coal travel down the Mississippi River, that would be absolutely crippling for our economy. It has been estimated that if all Mississippi River traffic was stopped that it would cost the U.S. economy 300 million dollars a day. So far most of the media coverage of this historic drought has focused on the impact that it is having on farmers and ranchers, but the health of the Mississippi River is also absolutely crucial to the economic success of this nation, and right now the Mississippi is in incredibly bad shape. In some areas the river is already 20 feet below normal and the water is expected to continue to drop. If we have another 12 months of weather ahead of us similar to what we have seen over the last 12 months then the mighty Mississippi is going to be a complete and total disaster zone by this time next year.
Most Americans simply do not understand how vitally important the Mississippi River is to all of us. If the Mississippi River continues drying up to the point where commercial travel is no longer possible, it would be an absolutely devastating blow to the U.S. economy.
You might think this is some kind of desert just outside of Memphis. It’s not. I’m actually standing on the exposed bottom of the Mississippi River. That’s how dramatic the drought impact is being felt here. Hard to believe, a year ago we were talking about record flooding. Now, they are worried about a new kind of record: a record low. The river was three miles wide here, it’s now down to three tenths of a mile. And that’s causing all kinds of problems. There are some benefits, I mean, take a look over here: new beach front. In fact, some quip that now the Mississippi River has more beaches than the entire state of Florida, which would be funny if it didn’t have an impact on trade.
A lot of stuff we use goes up and down the Mississippi River. We are talking steel, coal, ore, grain. The problem is now a lot of those barges have had to lighten their loads, and even doing that, they are still running aground. There is a real fear that there could be a possibility of closing the Mississippi River. If that happens, well, all that product that used to be carried cheaply by barge is now going to be carried more expensively by truck or train. And guess who is going to pay for all of that.
You can see video footage of what is happening along the Mississippi right here.
It really is amazing that last year we were talking about historic flooding along the Mississippi and this year we are talking about the Mississippi possibly drying up.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some areas along the river that are already 20 feet below normal levels. The following is from a recent article posted on inquisitr.com….
Just outside of Memphis the river is 13 feet below normal depth while the National Weather Service says Vicksburg, Mississippi is 20 feet below normal levels. Overall the Mississippi is 13 feet below normal averages for this time of year.
The drying up river is forcing barge, tugboat and towboat operators to navigate narrower and more shallow spots in the river, slowing their speeds as they pass dangerously close to one another. In some parts of the Mississippi the river is so narrow that one-way traffic is being utilized.
A lot of barges have been forced to go with greatly reduced loads so that they will sit higher in the river, and other commercial craft have been forced to stop operating completely.
For example, the Mississippi has dropped so low at this point that the famous American Queen Steamboat can no longer safely navigate the river.
Other waterways in the middle part of the country are in even worse shape.
For example, a 100 mile stretch of the Platte River has already dried up. Millions of fish are dying as rivers and streams all over the country continue to get shallower and warmer as a result of the ongoing drought.
The last time the condition of the Mississippi River was this bad was back in 1988. At that time, a lot of barge traffic was stopped completely and the shipping industry lost approximately a billion dollars.
If a similar thing were to happen now, the consequences could potentially be far worse.
As I wrote about recently, a standstill along the Mississippi would cost the U.S. economy about 300 million dollars a day.
In fact, one towing company that works on the Mississippi says that it has already been losing about $500,000 a month since May.
In the end, who is going to pay for all of this?
You and I will.
In fact, this crisis could end up costing American consumers a whole lot of money….
So here’s the math. If you want to raise the average barge one inch above the water, you’ve got to take off 17-tons of cargo. To raise it a foot, you’re talking 200 tons.
And since, according to the American Waterways Operators, moving cargo by river is $11 a ton cheaper than by train or truck. The more that now has to be moved on land, well, the more the costs go up. Steven Barry says, “And, eventually, the consumer’s gonna pay that price somewhere along the line.”
And considering the fact that we are already facing a potential food crisis due to the drought, the last thing we need is for the Mississippi River to dry up.
So is there any hope on the horizon for the Mississippi?
Unfortunately, things do not look promising.
The fall and the winter are typically drier than the summer is along the Mississippi River. That means that conditions along the river could actually get even worse in the months ahead. The following is from a recent Time Magazine article….
But without significant rainfall, which isn’t in any long-range forecasts, things are likely to get worse. As summer turns to fall, the weather tends to get drier. Lower temperatures generally mean fewer thunderstorms and less rainfall.
“Take away the thunderstorm mechanism and you run into more serious problems,” says Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. And while droughts tend to be a temporary setback, longer-range forecasts are troublesome. Sosnowski says he is anticipating an El Niño weather pattern next year, which would mean below-normal snowfall and above-average temperatures.
Let us hope and pray that we don’t see another 12 months similar to the 12 months that we have just been through.
The U.S. economy is already in bad enough shape.
We don’t need any more major problems on top of what we are already dealing with.
So what do you think about this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….