February 10, 2011

Food price warning.

The severe drought in China:
"China’s grain situation is critical to the rest of the world — if they are forced to go out on the market to procure adequate supplies for their population, it could send huge shock waves through the world’s grain markets..."

76 comments:

bagoh20 said...

I love bread.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And in the meantime we continue to burn up our food on the altar of Global Warming.

While the smug Prius drivers and eco sensitive yuppies congratulate themselves on being 'green' the rest of the world starves.

Is it any wonder that the US is often considered the Great Satan.

Evil is as evil does.

(Stupid too.....you can't stop stupid....it seems)

Pogo said...

Strange how China keeps having trouble feeding its own people.

I wonder why that would be?

Last time that happened, they "lost" 50 million people.

tim maguire said...

DQB, the first part is roughly correct. But the United States' voluntary failure to produce enough food to avoid this crisis (and benefit from it in China's case) is an equal opportunity travesty. Both parties want to waste resources in order to please certain interest groups.

Original Mike said...

Maybe we could help. Suspend the ethanol fuel mandates and sell China the corn to, you know, feed people.

SteveR said...

I say we make a deal, pay back debt with wheat. A hungry man, like a horny man, drives a bad bargin.

1jpb said...

Yesterday, Bernake succinctly explained why China should revalue its currency. My piss poor paraphrasing:

They're trying to tamp down bubble fueled growth by raising bank rates. But, this action necessarily clamps down on the consumption, and therefore rising lifestyles, of the Chinese people.

If, instead, they would allow their currency to rise, the Chinese people would have more purchasing power, so they could buy more foreign and domestic products, and the resulting slowing of exports would help to cool off the economy.

PaulV said...

China the next Egypt? The army will be in charge there, too.
Farmers will have to plant wheat and other food plants rather than field corn (edible by cattle).

MadisonMan said...

What do Prius owners have to do with Ethanol? You can't burn ethanol in a Prius.

garage mahal said...

While the smug Prius drivers and eco sensitive yuppies congratulate themselves on being 'green' the rest of the world starves

Interesting take. This drought was caused by Prius drivers?

Scott M said...

Why should they go outside their own agriculture to prevent millions from starving? Their record on giving a shit about this isn't all that great.

1jpb said...

"This drought was caused by Prius drivers?"

Now we know the true cause of climate change.

Original Mike said...

I assume Prius' will burn the blend, won't they? You can't even find unblended gasoline, can you? (have to admit, I don't pay much attention. I fill up my gas tank less than a dozen times a year.)

Original Mike said...

"Last time that happened, they "lost" 50 million people."

China's a big country. I'm sure they'll turn up someday.

holdfast said...

Like others have said - America produces a lot of grain and other agricultural stuff. China holds a lot of American debt.

I see a trade here.

But seriously, if the prices are right, the US Canada and Australia could produce a lot more foodstuffs - it wouldn't be super-cheap, but right now all three countries pay people not to farm.

Seven Machos said...

Why is it that autocratic countries have so many droughts? Ever notice that? It's strange. Apparently, the more dictatorial the government, the worse the weather.

MadisonMan said...

Oh, I guess that is true, everything is a blend.

Still not sure, though, how Prius owners -- rather, the subset of Prius owners who are smug -- are to be blamed for this.

1jpb said...

"I fill up my gas tank less than a dozen times a year"

Not me. I went through $120 of gas in a new 3/4 ton Yukon over two days last weekend. And, I wasn't on a road trip, though I did drive around a fair amount.

You can put more than thirty two gallons in that thing. And it needs it!

edutcher said...

After Tienamen, the Reds made a deal with the devil, i.e., capitalism.

Now the deal may be finally coming unstuck and one of the great ironies of modern history is that most of the big, successful revolutions (American, French, even Iranian, initially) are the work of the middle class.

Pogo said...

Strange how China keeps having trouble feeding its own people.

I wonder why that would be?

Last time that happened, they "lost" 50 million people.


66, actually, but, as the man says, a million here, a million there, pretty soon it's a lot of people.

Original Mike said...

I think the last time I filled my tank was October.

Scott M said...

I think the last time I filled my tank was October.

A pox on your house, sir. I fill up once a week.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Tim

Correct. Paying farmers NOT to produce in order to keep prices high or to keep supply low is a travesty and a distortion of the marketplace. IMO it is a moral wrong.

What do Prius owners have to do with Ethanol? You can't burn ethanol in a Prius.

It is the smug and unthinking mindset that goes along with all the Global Warming/Climate Change religion that they represent.

In addition ethanol is in gasoline blends which a Prius WILL use. If you want to go more than 13 miles.

"The Prius PHV will be able to reach max speeds of 60 miles per hour in electric-only mode (EV). When fully charged it will be able to travel up to 13 miles in EV mode. It can be recharged in approximately three hours from a standard 110V electrical outlet or one and a half hours at a 220V outlet."

Stupid vehicles. Stupid concepts.

Driving a Pious (as they are known around here) gives the false illusion of being green and better than everyone else to the dope behind the wheel, when they aren't reducing their "carbon footprint" at all.

Drive one if you want but get over yourself. You are being fooled. Suckers.

When I hear 'carbon footprint' I want to burn a tire.

Fred4Pres said...

In the words of the Prophet, Jello Biafra (PBUH), "Don't forget your bag of rice..."

Sofa King said...

Ethanol is for human consumption, not automotive consumption. And ideally, never the twain shall meet.

Seven Machos said...

Paying farmers NOT to produce in order to keep prices high or to keep supply low is a travesty and a distortion of the marketplace.

True, but it's not morally wrong because one bad year could wipe out a lot of small farmers. It's certainly true that there are better ways to deal with this problem, like a simple emergency credit extension.

Hoosier Daddy said...

But at least they have high speed rail.

Pogo said...

Another victory for socialist central planning!

MadisonMan said...

Here's an image just for you DBQ :)

(From this event)

garage mahal said...

It's a well known fact droughts follow socialist countries.

Pogo said...

"It's a well known fact droughts follow socialist countries."

An amazing pattern arise when one follows the economies of socialist nations.

By sheer coincidence, there quickly arise massive shortages of basic foodstuffs. Every time!

It's like some sort of demon follows them around.

Thankfully, they always have words like "drought" and "theft" and "capitalist wreckers" who always seem to be at fault.

Most often, you don't hear about it at all, like in Cuba, where people somehow keep getting diseases that only occur with various basic vitamin deficiencies.

The nations that joined Russia used to be a breadbasket for the region and world. In the 1970s and 1980s they bought wheat from the USA.

Strange how bad the weather gets in those socialist countries. Someone should do a study.

MadisonMan said...

DBQ: This picture is for you :)

traditionalguy said...

The scariest part of life on earth is the realization that the food supply only runs 60 days ahead of mass starvation. The global cooling we are now going into will make crops harder to produce. Our only hope is continued use of cheap energy in machinery farming the land and transporting the crops to where they are needed all over the world. So Obama is dedicated to causing expensive energy and scoffing up corn to replace cheap oil and gas. Obama is our enemy once more. Mass starvation will be the end of civilization all over the world.

MadisonMan said...

Well, this is bizarre. My posts are vanishing! God is telling me to work I guess.

Apologies for the double posts, that I can't see.

Original Mike said...

"The nations that joined Russia used to be a breadbasket for the region and world."

Joined. Yeah, that's it. They ... joined.

Original Mike said...

Did they "upgrade" Blogger? It's been acting squirrely for me the last couple days.

Pogo said...

"Joined. Yeah, that's it. They ... joined."

Sure, it was at the barrel of a gun, but they coulda said no. =P

Ankur said...

DBQ, interesting points.

However, the use of Ethanol is not related to the global warming issue. Ethanol is C2H5OH, and that C in the beginning turns into CO2 when the molecule is burned.

Also, no serious environmentalist recommends Ethanol use because Ethanol is energy negative - WHEN PRODUCED FROM CORN.

The only situations when Ethanol makes sense is if it is produced from Sugarcane. When produced from sugarcane, it is a remarkably energy positive fuel. Brazil is one of the world's largest producers of sugarcane based ethanol, and they make it much more cheaply and efficiently than we do. However, because of agricultural subsidies and tariffs, the US cannot take advantage of sugarcane based biofuels.

Thus, the whole corn->ethanol production thing is not really to please environmentalists, but more for the farmers, driving up demand for corn and paying lip service to "energy independence"

I am an environmentalist - and I would MUCH RATHER use pure hydrocarbons than corn based ethanol.

The second point about priuses is strange, to me. Given than ethanol is more for "energy independence" than CO2 reduction - I would say that a gas guzzling vehicle that gets 12 miles to the gallon is burning up more food than a prius, which gets 50 miles to the gallon.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Deprivation and War are linked. One causes the other.

Original Mike said...

We drove a rental Prius for a week when we were tooling around the mountains of Norway. We liked it. It was fuel efficient. I wouldn't buy one. Too expensive, and I keep my cars forever so I'd not be interested in replacing the battery two or three times over it's lifetime. Also, you can't camp out of it. Way too small. But is was fuel efficient.

Fred4Pres said...

"It's a well known fact droughts follow socialist countries."

Like rain follows the plow?

But it is true, socialist countries almost always suffer severe food shortages. Here is an example of dealing with that: NoKo and Cuba both suffered complete loss of Soviet oil and other aid they depended on. The NoKos quickly went to full famine. The Cubans opened up their economy to allow all citizens to grow crops on any fallow land they claimed and then sell their product. Granted Cuba has a far milder climate than North Korea, but the Cubans did not face starvation. The unfortunate part is the Cuban goverment does not realize that that same strategy would work across the entire economy if they had the balls to do it.

Ankur said...

Same here, Original Mike.

Last month, when we were shopping for a second car, we were trying to decide between a Prius or a Corolla. We ended up going with the Corolla because it has fantastic gas milage (38 mpg in the highway, versus 45 for the prius in highways) - and such close gas milage numbers, we thought we were getting more car for the money with a Corolla than a prius. We ended up getting a 2010 Corolla with 20000 miles on it for the same money we would have spent on a 2007 prius with 60000 miles.

Original Mike said...

Perhaps counter-intuitively, we decided the Prius was a good car for the mountains. A lot of energy recovery when you're going up and down a lot.

knox said...

pay back debt with wheat

This was my first thought, but something tells me the Chinese aren't readily going to forfeit that leverage. As Scott M pointed out, they don't seem too concerned about losing a few million citizens when convenient.

garage mahal said...

It's like some sort of demon follows them around.

Thankfully, they always have words like "drought" and "theft" and "capitalist wreckers" who always seem to be at fault.


I'm not a meteorologist, but I don't think droughts are caused by demons Pogo.

Scott M said...

I'm not a meteorologist, but I don't think droughts are caused by demons Pogo.

Correct. They are also caused by do-gooders putting tiny fucking fish over the well-being of an entire region of of California.

garage mahal said...

So tiny fucking fish, demons, and Prius drivers cause droughts. Good luck getting this peer reviewed.

Scott M said...

Good luck getting this peer reviewed.

Good point. East Anglia taught us the deck is worse than stacked. Thanks for pointing that out.

chuckR said...

What do Prius owners have to do with Ethanol? You can't burn ethanol in a Prius.
Really? Within reasonable distance, I know of no gas stations that pump pure gasoline. Unless you go to a marina or buy race gas, E10 is universal. BTW, by refusing to recycle my 150kmile old 30mpg car, I use about 1 1/4 more gallons per week of E10 than if I had a Prius. And , yet, I don't feel smug...
I could commute in a Volt or Leaf, most moderate days not using any E10 at all, but why would I? The power comes largely from coal and the premium to buy a compromised vehicle approaches 100% of true value. Come see me when there are more nukes coming on line and batteries are cheaper/higher capacity/more convenient.

Pogo said...

garage, put it this way: China blames a 'drought'. I call bullshit.

Comrade X said...

pay back debt with wheat

why would American farmers want to pay off the U.S. Government debt? I guess the government could confiscate it, but I doubt the farmers would be motivated to plant the next year.

chuckR said...

Good luck getting this peer reviewed.

Good point. East Anglia taught us the deck is worse than stacked. Thanks for pointing that out.


Well, garage's conclusions are about as well supported as East Anglia's, so who knows....

Comrade X said...

I guess the government could confiscate it

Shit. I forgot about the hundred plus year old constitution and its old-timey takings clause.

Hoosier Daddy said...

So tiny fucking fish, demons, and Prius drivers cause droughts. Good luck getting this peer reviewed.

Drought's are apolitical. We have them here from time to time yet despite nature's best efforts we're suffering from an obesity crisis rather than starvation.

Comrade X said...

I've got it. The US department of Agriculture could fire all their goldbricking white collar workers and hire farmers instead. Then they could grow some wheat the government would own and use it to pay back the government's debt.

1. fire govt employees
2. hire farmers
3. Profit!

at the same time the goverment could get out of the paying fake farmers not to grow crops business.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

but I doubt the farmers would be motivated to plant the next year.

Ah...but under the Commerce Clause, inactivity is the same as activity and if we can be forced to buy health insurance for the greater good, you can bet your britches that the US Government would find a way to force the farmers to plant and confiscate their product for the greater good.

In the olden days, that used to be called Serfdom.

I wonder what the new speak phrase for Serfdom and Slavery will be?

Scott M said...

I wonder what the new speak phrase for Serfdom and Slavery will be?

Whatever phrase is decided upon, it will be justified because we've always been at war with Eastasia.

PS - Thank God for Orwell. How much snark would be lost minus his opus?

Ankur said...

The US had record droughts in the beginning of the last decade.

We didn't feel the impact much because we have water management infrastructure designed to handle exactly that. Farmers did, though, to some extent and that was reflected in higher wheat prices (over and above regular 2-3% inflation)

China, on the other hand, despite making huge strides lately, still doesn't have ANYWHERE near the infrastructure needed for efficient water management and it has 4 times as many people as the united states. So problems like these are amplified.

Hoosier Daddy said...

China, on the other hand, despite making huge strides lately, still doesn't have ANYWHERE near the infrastructure needed for efficient water management and it has 4 times as many people as the united states. So problems like these are amplified.

One would think that a nation as old and presumably wiser than our piddly 235 years would have figured out a suitable water management system by now.

Ankur said...

Modernization in China is only a few decades old, Hoosier.

When europe and america were slowly industrializing, China was fighting the opium wars, fighting off the japanese and then they were saddled with communism which prevented any progress in any area except their defence. So yes, communism certainly is a contributory factor, but there are other reasons too.

Scott M said...

Multiple millions dead for the same reasons, and therefor preventable, is more than a "contributing" factor. The original point that was made was that central planners ALWAYS seem to have these problems.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

This is obviously the result of global climate change. China needs to immediately implement a massive de-industrialization policy to combat this threat. Maybe we can help out by selling them choo choos and windmills.

1jpb said...

"...you can bet your britches..."

So, when DBQ mentions that the pious/prius phrasing is popular "around here," "here" is a place where geezers hangout.

Not that there's anything wrong w/ that.

Ankur said...

Well yes. What I am saying is, in China, devastating droughts predate communism.

One of the biggest reasons Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and California don't run out of water is Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, and Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. This enables people in LA and vegas to have lush green lawns. Lawns! in the middle of the desert!

These massive dams ARE examples of central planning. I am not saying central planning is good or bad, but in this particular case, you cannot praise the water management of the United States and criticize central planning in the same breath.

Ankur said...

Oh! and Nevada!

Ankur said...

although, having said that, I do think dozens or even hundreds of microdams networked to each other to optimize water flow based on local needs along a river...is probably a better solution than one or two massive dams.

That also makes the system more resilient and terrorism proof.

Scott M said...

you cannot praise the water management of the United States and criticize central planning in the same breath.

Sure I can. Especially when the central planning I'm talking about is their entire approach to their entire economy. Not how one or two big ticket projects were managed by the federal government using the expertise and labor of dozens (if not hundreds) of private contractors. Contractors that got to to their respective levels of skill by being successful private enterprises in their own right.

The differences between our big projects and theirs only reinforces the differences in our economies and shows the inadequacies in the latter.

Ankur said...

Okay - I see what you're saying. Fair point.

john bord said...

When the smelts of the california river became more important then water to irrigate the central valley of california lots of red flags about food shortage should of been flying at half mast.

The greenies will win the war by staring everybody.

Roger J. said...

Ankur--the involvement in water management of Chinese dynasties predates communism by 2500 years--Read the work of one Li Bing in developing flood control along the Yangtsze--its quite fascinating.

The Chinese bureaucracy has been well established since Tsi Wang Ti, the first Chin dynasty emperor--while not perfect in its implementation, the mandarin bureaucracy has a long history in china--in fact, I would argue thatg Mao built upon confucian precepts but that the subject of another post.

knox said...

I wonder what the new speak phrase for Serfdom and Slavery will be?

Irene has the answer a few posts up. "Social Justice". [Hi Irene!]

Calypso Facto said...

rather, the subset of Prius owners who are smug

I guess 99% is, technically, still a subset.

Pogo said...

I thought the Prius ran on smug.

rhhardin said...

Local farmers around me are expanding and upgrading their fields.

Knocking down forest, or putting in tiling for draining.

Gene said...

You are certainly right, ChuckR, that nukes are the answer. I've heard Bill Gates talk about nuclear power plants so small you truck them in on an 18 wheeler. And when they run out of fuel, you truck in a new one and take the old one back.

If we had thousands of small nuclear power plants scattered around the country, we wouldn't have to worry about Saudi Arabia telling our president to lay of Mubarak, he's a friend of mine. We could power our cars with nuclear generated electricity. We wouldn't have to be in continual Mid-East wars to protect our oil supply and we wouldn't have to cozy up to dictators because we have no choice.

Cedarford said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...
"And in the meantime we continue to burn up our food on the altar of Global Warming."
Later: "Paying farmers NOT to produce in order to keep prices high or to keep supply low is a travesty and a distortion of the marketplace. IMO it is a moral wrong."

--------------------
It's more complicated than that. Ag payments are theoretically designed to eliminate boom-bust cycles of farmers employed working the land - following a pattern of crop gluts then crop shortages as played out globally. This was absolutely needed once improved shipping and inland transportation created a global commodity market. Over the years, lobbies have perverted that into going past that core necessity to abusive pork, earmark, and ethanol payments. But the basic idea is solid.
Add in that much of Ag production resources - water from dams, crop disease control, use of transporation - is a result of central planning even in America - vs. primitive laissez faire capitalism of each farmer tending to his own water finding, his own roads, his own deals with shippers, his own deals with Aussie and Ukrainian competitors.


If we look at immoral - it is immoral that Islam and the Catholic church encourage overbreeding of people past the ability of their own lands to feed them. At least China is going in the right direction to reach a sustainable human population.

And just as America is not morally obligated to be the world's 9/11 Service, global nation-builder wasting trillions on it, or guarantor of Israel no matter what it does to Palestinians - no moral obligation to feed the overbred parts of the world exist.
If ethanol actually did get us off foreign oil and help AMERICANS in that strategy - I'd have no problem with that policy. Even if unwed mommas in Haiti with 12 chilluns and no husband lost a few to malnutrition no matter how hard they prayed at the local Catholic church or priest consoling them they could always breed 4-5 more.