Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is Climate Change Implicated in Rising Food Prices?

If this is the case, and Romm makes a good case it is, expect supply side inflationary pressure to increase going forward, which will result not only in higher prices but shortages that lead to global instability. If this is convincingly connected to CO2 emissions, which just about everyone admits other than the US public, also expect increased energy costs, also leading to supply side inflationary pressure as negative externalities are addressed economically.


Matt Franko said...

"When they grew the soybeans in the sort of conditions expected to prevail in a future climate, with high temperatures or low water, the extra carbon dioxide could not fully offset the yield decline caused by those factors."

Tom, this phenom looks like it will benefit the west most, as we are in the northern hemisphere, farther from the equatorial regions and our temps though increased perhaps will not be problematic, and our crops will benefit from the increased CO2.

So we will have a situation where the west will have bumper crops, and the equatorial populations will suffer less ag output due to higher temps and lack of H20. It could then be looked at as a global distributional issue, ie an economic one.

How do we get the food to the people who will need it? Of course this is not a "real" problem, we have plenty of transportation options, it is solely an economic one... are those human beings in civil authority over this global system up to this challenge? Can we afford to let this up to the "Dominique Strauss Kahns of the world"?


Matt Franko said...

Could also be the NYT generating propaganda for the depraved food commodity speculators ("It's not us, it's global warming, etc...) Resp,

Crake said...

Add demand stress. The primary diet of Rural Asians is one centered around starches and vegetables. Along with the trend of rural Asians leaving rural areas and agricultural employment for industrialized employment and urban living, there is a trend of them adopting Western diets (centered on animal products.) That situation would lead to a huge increase in food demand because livestock consume up to 10 times the calories that you get from them (it varies among specific livestock, but ratios are around 4 to 1 to 10 to 1 of calories consumed to calories produced for human consumption.) So as Asians entertain this trend, you get up to 1000% (10 fold) increase in food demand (grains to feed the livestock) per person. Again, 1000% is probably the upper limit (other variables like specific livestock, if people eat less calories as they engage in less manual labor etc.) but net calories is still probably in the 600%+ range (I would like to get a study that shows actual net numbers.) That is a huge multiplier and brings the question, is the western diet itself sustainable in an emerging world, forth.