[ExI] Food Production

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Thu Apr 23 04:01:37 UTC 2009

Mirco wrote:

> Keith Henson ha scritto:
 >> [Lee wrote]
>>> A friend who's recently returned from a month on an Indiana or
>>> Ohio farm tells me that they're *still* making large improvements,
>>> and actually look forward to another factor of 2.
 >>> [http://www.agry.purdue.edu/Ext/corn/news/articles.03/CornYldTrend2003.html]
>> And how big a hit would corn production take if the cost of energy
>> when up to the point farmers had to make do with 10% of the energy
>> they now use?

Ninety percent loss of energy available to farmers!?
What do you have in mind? That seems awfully high.

Besides, why would it be sudden? The factor of 7 that
we have already seen since 1925 (that is expected to
go up altogether, then, by a factor of 14), took
eighty-five years.

> I think talking about "10% of the energy they now use" is wrong (it is 
> engineering thinking not economics thinking. And the problem is 
> inherently economics.
> Energy is energy and, in some way, goto the people able to pay for it, 
> if it is not rationed. And, if it is rationed, it will go for the 
> agriculture before it will go for anything other.

Rationing was a bad idea in all historical cases
I can think of, and I can't imagine it being our
best bet.

> My question, that I suppose is more useful, is about level of prices: 
> 50% - 100% - 900% greater than now for energy.

Good question.

> ...Given that energy and food are linked
 > together in a very short loop due the
> ability to use ethanol and vegetable oil
 > as fuel, any serious and lasting reduction
 > of the energy production worldwide will
 > cause the richer nations to use their
 > riches to buy food and oil at higher prices.

Hmm. I don't know about the "short loop". When
oil prices jumped way up, did food prices? If
so, it doesn't seem that food prices have come
down now!

> This is like siphoning the resources of others nations and shape the 
> production to something we need , not something they need. We already 
> cause something like this with the War on Drugs. This would be similar: 
> nations like Saudi Arabia and Nigeria use much of their oil to buy stuff 
> abroad and feed their people (directly or indirectly). Higher prices of 
> oil imply higher prices of food (we sell the food, the drugs, the 
> technology, etc.). So anything they gain selling less oil for more 
> money, they lose for buying food at higher prices.

Same complaint. "short loop"?

> Given that the majority of the Earth population is, now, living in 
> cities, there is no way people could grow their own food if the prices 
> are too high. So, the major effect of raising prices of food will be a 
> mass starvation of the undeveloped nations (Africa, parts of Asia and 
> South America). This would lead to lower birthrates and greater number 
> of dead in these nations. It is not like they can continue to have 6-8 
> children per woman, anyway.

Yes, that's certainly who will starve.


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