Ethenol Production hits Food Production in U.S.

May 31, 2007 · Filed Under Threats to Food Supply · Comment 

A recent announcement by the U.S government shows that the ethenol industry is expected to take around 87 million tonnes of maize this year which will be 27% of the crop compared with 55 mt (20%) in 2006.

There are now about 117 distilleries working with a capacity of about 6 billion gallons per year. Within two years this is expected to double.

The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development in Iowa State University has found that U.S retail prices have already increased by $14bln annually, and could climb by $20 bln annually if crude oil and maize prices remain high.

U.S ethenol production could reach 30bln gallons by 2012, consuming over half of U.S maize, wheat and coarse grains pushing up meat and poultry prices and significantly reducing grain and meat exports.

This is plainly very bad news for those countries that depend on U.S grain imports, especially as biofuel production is also causing exportable surpluses to disappear in other areas such as the EU. They must be worrying about food security. And so they should.

With such a tight situation, any major climatic problems in the world such as widespread drought or late monsoons would cause chaos in the grain markets and panic among the public

Jihad may start Peak Food

May 31, 2007 · Filed Under security of energy supply · Comment 

With world food supplies becoming tighter each year and the West being unable to produce food without oil and gas, we should consider the effect Jihad may have on oil supplies and therefore food supplies.

Jihad or Holy War is funded by oil and is very likely to cause a shortage of oil.

Wahabism, an extreme branch of Islam is Saudi based. A strange alliance was formed between the Royal family and the clerics so that the clerics could continue to teach extremism while the royals rule the land. This may well backfire against the royals as the extremists aim for an Islamic state in Saudi, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Jihadists are focused on the destruction of the Infidel world and bringing back the Caliphate, a new superstate above the sovereignties of all Arab or Muslim countries. The oil money flowing into Saudi is allowing the clerics to spread the Jihadi doctrine throughout the world.

Many people in the West imagine that extremists are a very tiny minority in the Muslim world, but now the Madrassas (religious schools) in Saudi, Pakistan and elsewhere are brainwashing children of an impressionable age.

The Jihadists know that they cannot defeat the West by conventional warfare or even by more terrorist attacks similar to 9/11. Security is now much tighter, but in any case such acts only do superficial damage. They know too well that to bring the West to its knees they would need to deny us the oil and gas that built our wealth and on which our civilisation now depends.

As we cannot now produce food without oil and gas, any large or prolonged reduction in supplies would create chaos in the food industry which the Jihadists would welcome.

Energy supplies are bound to be the weapon of choice for these extremists and the arrest of 172 people in Saudi recently accused of planning to blow up oil installations might well have been the start of this.

Our best defence against this would be to take steps to becoming much less dependent on the Middle East by using less oil and gas and finding ways to use the abundant power of the sun in innovative and efficient ways.

U.S and Germany split on Climate Change

May 29, 2007 · Filed Under climate change · Comment 

The huge gap between the U.S and Europe on the best way to tackle climate change is shown in an article by Bertrand Benoit in FT.COM world,

“Berlin’s G8 proposals include a pledge to limit global warming to 2ºC and an endorsement of ‘cap and trade’ strategies for cutting emissions, whereby companies buy and sell certificates entitling them to release carbon into the atmosphere.”

“The U.S, by contrast, thinks global warming should be fought through the deployment of new technologies and by encouraging the use of renewable energy. The White House said on Monday, ‘We expect to be talking to the Germans and our other G8 partners on the agenda between now and the start of the summit on climate change and the other agenda items-especially including the important poverty-reducing priorities.’

“German environmental minister, Sigmar Gabriel, is understood to have all but given up on reaching a compromise…”

Peak Food and World Population

May 29, 2007 · Filed Under Threats to Food Supply · Comment 

The recent rise in population, especially in the last 60 years has been absolutely incredible. Population throughout history was always limited by the availability of food. When hunting and gathering was the norm, there were only a few million people on Earth. As people began growing crops and keeping animals this increased, but even then it is estimated that 2000 years ago there were only 300 million people. It then took until the early 1800s for the 1 billion mark to be passed but only about another 100 years for the next billion to be added by 1925. By 1945 there were about 2.5 billion, then things really took off. In the 62 years since, we have added an amazing 4 billion to reach 6.6 billion and in the next 18 years to 2025 it is expected that we will gain another 1.4 billion to reach 8 billion.

So the carrying capacity of the Earth has increased at an unbelievable rate especially since 1945. But how? The answer is easy, it’s almost all down to oil and gas. Oil has allowed mechanisation, thereby releasing land that was previously needed to feed horses and oxen. It has also allowed pumped irrigation of many dry areas. Natural gas is used in massive quantities in the energy intensive production of nitrogen fertiliser, now responsible for about 40% 0f our grain yield.

Should we be deprived of part of our supplies of oil and gas, food supplies would also decline at a time when we need much more. Peak Oil or problems in the Middle East are bound to cause this to happen at some time. We are using a finite resource  for an infinite need.

The amount of farmland per person on Earth in 1970 was 0.28ha but at current rates will be 0.15 by 2050. That’s really frightening.

Russia using Energy as a Political Weapon

May 28, 2007 · Filed Under security of energy supply · Comment 

Several European governments including the Baltic states and Poland are very nervous about the emergence of Russia as an Energy Superpower. They say Russia is using its energy as a political weapon and have repeatedly criticized the German-led plans for the trans-Baltic pipeline, which they claim will make EU members to the East more vulnerable to Russian pressure.

At present relations between EU and Russian leaders are at a low point, but some big energy companies from Europe are making their own deals with Gazprom.

The problem is that from past experience, these agreements will not be worth the paper they’re written on should a crisis happen.

As Europe becomes ever more dependent on imported energy to produce food, the reliability of energy suppliers may be a matter of life or death for many Europeans. Since there are no reliable suppliers left we should learn to use less.

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