Thursday, July 27, 2006

Food Shortages, Biofuels and Oil Wars

What are biofuels?
Wheat, corn and sugar processed into ethanol and diesel.

What does it take to create biofuel?

Biofuels are cheap and friendly for the environment, right?
It takes oil to produce (grow) biofuels. Farm subsidies, tractors and harvesting rely on oil.

What are biofuels?
They are the food we grow in order to survive. Wheat, corn and sugar. Extreme weather reduces the amounts of wheat and corn grown around the world.

Earth Policy Institute

Grain prices starting to rise.
- World Grain Stocks Fall to 57 Days of Consumption.
- World grain consumption is rising as world grain production is falling.
- World population growth is rising as world food production is falling.
- Each year world farmers try to feed an additional 70 million people.
- Grain intensive products: Meat, milk and eggs.
- World meat production 1950: 44 million tons.
- World meat production 2005: 265 million tons.
- One-fifth of the US corn harvest will be used to produce fuel-ethanol.
- One sixth of the US grain harvest will be used to produce ethanol.
- The US subsidize ethanol production at 51 cents a gallon.
- Underground water reserves are being depleted by intense farming.
- World temperature increases are lowering rice and grain harvests.
- Drier than usual winters lowered the barley harvests.
- 70% of water from rivers, lakes, and aquifers are used for irrigation.
- Water supplies are decreasing in countries that contain half the worlds people: China, India and the United States.

- A recent study, authored jointly by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), forecasts an acceleration in world biofuel usage over the next 10 years that would raise demand for maize, wheat, oilseeds and sugar, the trade-offs between food/feed and non-food uses for specific crop sectors were still unclear.

Heatwave Crippling Europe
- A deadly heatwave gripping central Europe sent electricity prices rocketing in Germany and caused the suspension of shipping on major rivers as water levels dwindle. Europe's shops and supermarkets are facing a shortage of vegetables later this year as a result of the current heatwave, a leading industry group have warned.

Biofuel Demand Hits Food
- FOOD companies such as Unilever, Nestle and Cadbury could face higher commodity costs over the long term as rising demand for biofuels pushes up prices for raw materials such as wheat, corn and sugar, a report by Goldman Sachs says.

Get Ready For 'Peak Grain'
- To put the 57 days in historical perspective, the world price for wheat went up six-fold in 1973, the last time reserves were this low. Wheat prices ricocheted through the food supply chain in many ways, from higher prices for cereal and breads eaten directly by humans to the cost of milk and meat from livestock fed a grain-based diet. If such a chain reaction happens this year, wheat could fetch $21 a bushel, about six times its current price. It might cost even more, given that there are now two other pressing demands for grains that were less forceful during the 70s.

Those happy days predated modern fads such as using grains for ethanol, now touted as an alternative to petroleum fuels for cars, and predated the factory barns that bring grains to an animal’s stall, thereby eliminating grazing on pasture grasses. University ethics classes and church elders can ponder the moral dilemmas imposed on the wealthy when they choose fuel and meat while others starve.

- World's Water Resources Face Mounting Pressure
- Planet Ark
- Green Fuels Dirty Secret

No comments: