Podcast: Play in new window
Oxfam volunteers demonstrate for non-readers the combined effects of rising seawater (climate change) and rising food prices. (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)
The drumbeat of dire warnings continues about the inevitable and imminent collapse of the world’s food supply before the combined onslaughts of industrial agriculture and climate change. Despite the increasing number of scientific reports documenting ever more ominous conditions and prospects worldwide, the response from the people who could conceivably do something about it has been a collective yawn. The two latest cries of “fire” in our crowded theater came this week: Continue reading
Podcast: Play in new window
It is no longer enough for the seed and chemical company Monsanto to use its rivers of cash to own and operate the United States Congress (in the language of corporations, there is no word for “enough”); it is now using the US Department of State as its global sales force. The objective, apparently, is to replace every plant grown for food on the planet with a genetically mutilated plant sold by Monsanto. With the help of the United States government, the project is well along.
Podcast: Play in new window
Confined, crowded and stressed meat animals like these pigs are given 29 million pounds of antibiotics every year in the US, 80 per cent of the available supply, to make sure they grow. As a result, the seven million pounds administered to humans are becoming less effective. (Photo by Victor Sounds/Flickr)
This summer, the US Department of Agriculture received a report it had commissioned on the rise of infectious bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The report — not a study, but a survey of existing studies — warned of a “growing public health concern worldwide” as more and more people are sickened and killed by infections against which modern medicines are helpless. (Just one of them, MRSA, now kills more people every year than AIDS.) And it was a powerful indictment of industrial agriculture’s role in creating these so-called “superbugs.” So the USDA did just what you would expect the government regulator of industrial agriculture to do: it buried the report.
Converting a Hummer to bio-diesel, as this one has been, is like having a diet drink after gorging at McPiggy’s. As it turns out, converting an industry to bio-diesel makes about as much sense. (Photo by Paul Keller/Flickr)
In 2003, the European Union threw all its weight behind bio-diesel — a fuel manufactured mostly from plant seeds — as the sustainable replacement for fossil fuel. The members created the world’s largest bio-diesel industry, and now to their sorrow are discovering the truth in what has been a mantra of the Daily Impact: renewables aren’t sustainable if they’re industrial. The realization may destroy the $13 billion industry. Continue reading
The Wall Street Bull is off again, and as always, he's about to run us all off a cliff. [Photo by Sylvain Leprovost/Flickr
The idiots savant who lead Wall Street stampedes off cliffs have a new sure thing: by which they mean a sure-fire, get-rich-quick scheme; and from which we should infer, take cover. First, the savant part; more and more of them are coming to believe that when you apply arithmetic and logic to the rate at which the industrial world is destroying natural resources, you are led to the conclusion that the edifice is going to crash. (Also see “Hedge Fund Guy Says Brace for Impact: Believe it Now?”)
The idiot part is, they want to get rich from the crash, as they cling to the pathetic belief that, after the crash, having lots of money is going to be useful. So they are pumping up a new investment bubble — farmland. Continue reading
A quinoa salad, the latest sneeze among boutique eaters who are mostly oblivious to the consequences of their enthusiasm. (Photo by Karen and Brad Emerson/Flickr)
The epigraph for the book The Ugly American, an account of the destruction wrought by American good intentions in Southeast Asia, is a quote from Graham Greene (in which the word “dumb” means incapable of speech, not stupid): “Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.” A new incarnation of the syndrome, the Ugly American Consumer, wanders the world bestowing money on its natives, presuming that he is bestowing blessings. Case in point: quinoa. Continue reading
The biggest and most persistent myth about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s? That it is over.
If we were to forget all about climate change and peak oil, the two most real and present dangers to our future (of course it’s a silly thing to do in the face of the evidence, but do the exercise: pretend you’re an American politician), we would still be confronted by the third, and conceivably the gravest danger — peak food. The strains on the natural systems on whose health we depend for life itself are titanic (pun intended) and growing. A breaking point has already come for millions of the world’s poor, and cannot be far off for the world’s most privileged. Continue reading
(Photo by Stepheye/Flickr)
Wait a minute. I have accustomed myself to the prospects that, approaching and after the Fall, I will have to give up gasoline, electricity, lettuce in the winter, thermostats, my cell phone, 20-minute showers and even — sob! — the Internet. I can handle that. I can stay home, tend my solar panels, grow my own food and cut wood for heat until I’m too hot and tired to take a shower. But Peak Coffee? It’s too much. Continue reading
Do the throngs in the streets of Cairo have anything to teach the passers-by in the streets of America? You bet they do. (Photo by Essam Sharaf/Flickr)
Being paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you. Nor does it mean that you’re ready for it when they do. We who expect the crash of the global industrial system, who believe it has already (in slow motion) begun, need to be alert for the moment when the slow irreparable lean turns into the catastrophic free fall. That is when incomplete preparations for the aftermath become exactly the same as no preparations at all. Has that moment come for us, via Egypt? Continue reading
US National Guard troops train for riot control duty. Several new reports on the world's food supply indicate their services will be needed. (US Army Photo)
Crop failures and food-price shocks, often leading to food riots, are eroding world food security — which is to say they are threatening the existence of a growing number of countries — according to a number of new reports. Climate change is implicated in the most catastrophic of the crop failures this year, but scientists blame industrial agriculture for some of the gravest threats to our food supply that lie just ahead. Continue reading