The Coming Food Wars

[This is one of those infrequent updates that I more or less promised I’d make. This is an issue that affects us all and should be aired (again) from time to time, especially in light of all the bad news we are receiving every day – Admin]

There is a treatise over on the Ishmael Community “Reaching For The Future With All Three Hands“, that should be read – and understood for it’s scope and most importantly, lack of completeness, because it implies a “steady state” of global populations and food production that is most definitely not true.

Daniel Quinn was right as far as it goes, in a steady state economy, steady state environment and with an unlimited supply of energy, global population levels can be effectively and even efficiently maintained by simply controlling the food supply.

This is of course, what the world has not been doing, as our population levels have doubled, tripled and quadripled. But the argument remains that we could do this if we wanted to. The implication is that we just need to make this decision and we’ll be fine.

What is dead wrong about this argument is that is assumes that ours is a steady state. Quinn conveniently overlooked some really significant points in regards to the source of that “unending food” supply tossed into the parking lot as it were.

First off, all things are definitely NOT equal or constant. A constant supply of food in our depleted world of today is most certainly not guaranteed at all.

Energy = Food

Without cheap, abundant energy, we cannot produce the quantities of food that we are presently reliant upon (to simply maintain our existing populations, to say nothing of any growth). It takes 9 calories of petroleum energy today to produce just 1 calorie of food. Obviously, this means as our energy stocks decline, so will our food production, dramatically.

Climate = Food

Our changing climate is in the news every day. Climate changes are having rather huge impacts on global food production (and prices). Export restrictions are now being enacted globally to ensure that countries that produce food surpluses still have enough to feed their own populations. A primary reason why this is happening is because of declining food harvests due to climate change. Additional reasons cited are the costs of production (energy and fertilizer increases).

Soil = Food

There is no place on Earth that has not seen severe either soil erosion, acidification, depletion or salinity pollution. Without the constant application of fertilizers (produced by natural gas and petroleum inputs), harvests are significantly lessened due to soil depletion. What was once the most fertile soils on Earth are now only able to support monoculture crops (single crops) with the heavy application of fertilizers.

Water = Food

The drought news in California (one of the most fertile “breadbaskets” on Earth) and Australia and other parts of the world are constantly reminding us of our food peril. Dry lands that were “reclaimed” for farmland and food production are entirely dependent upon transported water supplies to make them sufficiently watered enough to grow crops. Without these constant rivers of waters coming from hundreds and thousands of miles away, crop production suffers greatly.

Most areas require a constant climate of both wet and dry seasons to produce the heavy yields we are accustomed to. Without normal rain patterns watering fields and farmlands, crop losses now run into the billions of dollars. This is akin to Quinn’s “grocery bags” not being thrown over the fence anymore. Suddenly, we don’t have 20 bags of grocery to feed to the parking lot people, we’ve only got 10. Population will decline as a result.

Each one of these “steady state assumptions” in Quinn’s treatise cannot be taken for granted today, not even close. They are all imperiled and their danger signs are increasing on a daily basis.

There is a reason why we are all called consumers – connedsumers is what we really are. The giant Ponzi scheme of population growth and the required steady state apparatus and unending energy supplies required has conned us all.

In the words of the late Dr. David Price;

“People who believe that a stable population can live in balance with the productive capacity of the environment may see a slowdown in the growth of population and energy consumption as evidence of approaching equilibrium. But when one understands the process that has been responsible for population growth, it becomes clear that an end to growth is the beginning of collapse. Human population has grown exponentially by exhausting limited resources, like yeast in a vat or reindeer on St. Matthew Island, and is destined for a similar fate.”

I’ve not doubt my regular readers of this blog are quite aware of this fact, but since I stopped publishing, this reminder needs to be hammered in again. I remain absolutely convinced that there is nothing we can do to avoid our collapse, and especially so after watching the shenanigans of the last few months.

Global leaders are still stupidly calling for “growth” in the face of exhausted resources, so much so that I want to shake my fist in their face (or smash their noses in) at how stupid this belief is. We cannot grow anymore in any segment of our economy, industry or population without imperiling our future ability to survive on this planet. There is absolutely no more argument for this fact.

Runaway climate change is already here. “We are basically looking now at a future climate that’s beyond anything we’ve considered seriously in climate model simulations,” Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University.

A growing segment of the scientific community is admitting to this dire fact. Along with food wars are water wars, also daily in the news. Drought is going to be huge problem in the years ahead, much more so then it is already. The reason for this is the climate is no longer reliable, what was once useable farmland is now a dust bowl. And other regions that are being inundated with water (or snow, like here) are absolutely useless lands for growing large quantities of food.

A century of resource wars is predicted as the world struggles to feed itself and maintain country-by-country “preeminence” and dominance. In the crosshairs is absolutely everything we have taken for granted. In the “Geopolitics For Food Scarcity“, Lester Brown reminds us that “we” are now in doubt. Our very survival is now at stake, primarily due to our unwillingness to change.

Today we are witnessing the emergence of a dangerous politics of food scarcity, one in which individual countries act in their narrowly defined self-interest and subsequently accelerate the deterioration of global equilibrium.

Water shortages, cropland losses, rising temperatures and falling yields bode ill for the world’s populations. The sum total of this equates the failed State as nations succumb to internal unrest, riots, division and war.

Within the environmental community, we have talked for decades about saving the planet. But now we have a new challenge: to save civilization itself.

I have my (serious) reservations that this is an impossible and even undesirable goal. Saving civilization is not going to happen. Civilization means different things to different people, which usually translates to “business as usual”. This is the Pollyanna view commonly expressed, a exceedingly selfish viewpoint that basically says “as long as I have what I want, let’s not worry about tomorrow’s generations”. This is the latte-now crowd, unconcerned at all about what we are presently doing to our home and our future survival and why I do not personally support this view.

This is the time we have been waiting for. Some of us, anyway. We wanted a better world, and we might just get it. The old one had to fall and get out of the way, and this must be finished for the sake of our faltering climate and for our own sakes. Meanwhile the old guard is floundering around and is as useless as tits on a bull, as my father used to say. People are still mesmerized by power and imagery, but the luster and facade are fading. While some government spending can be along healthy lines, it is certainly not “the answer.”

We have entered the time of the most rapid, sweeping change in culture. Great changes are in the works for the way people live and think. We are just beginning to see the failure of not just easy credit and overspending, but the failure of living for money and material things. Granted, most participants in the growth economy thought that’s how things were supposed to work, and now they feel at a loss. These are people who have had little use for traditions of their ancestors. They thought nature was something to dominate into submission and rape for pleasure and profit. They thought technology placed us above all life forms as well as primitive peoples, and that we could cast any number of them into the extinction bin. For we could continue to extract resources forever and solve any problem.

Now the humbling has begun, on several levels. By now only an idiot isn’t worried about climate change. Now that we know full well what we’re doing to the ecosystem, how can any sane person put the economy first instead of integrating it with ecology? How can defending our systemic destruction be tolerated? The Old World Is Crashing Down, Welcome Back The Older

As our global economy continues to nose-dive as brain-hemorrhaging speeds, I will remind all of you once again – you are on your own. Our global leaders are categorically clueless to the perfect storm now prepared. This is a global crisis on multiple fronts, literally a biblical tidal wave of epic proportions.

Another good read is also from Culture Change, “Social Collapse Best Practices“. Please read it and then if you haven’t already, take action for yourself.

It goes without saying that the predicted collapse outlined long ago in this blog is now fully here. We are now in the “collapse” stage of the pre-collapse, collapse and post-collapse phases. This will probably last up to several years as we spiral down towards the ragged bottom. Check out the Future Prep and Collapse Survival series of articles here (right side menu) for hints and suggestions and what you can expect.

Eventually, I’ll publish some of the really hard-hitting stuff that I’ve held back all these years. I never did think anybody was really ready for this material. If I even mentioned these views in “polite but informed circles”, an uncomfortable silence was the usual response. We’re still not ready yet to consider the implications of how desperate things are going to get, but signs of this level of desperation are already on our horizon.

I’ll see you all later — again, it is unknown when I will publish again – Admin

Update: Download these podcast (mp3 files) NOW, Part I is going to disappear very soon:

Climate Wars Part I (right click, “save as” to your drive)

Climate Wars Part II

Climate Wars Part III (link fixed)


admin at survivalacres dot com

5 thoughts on “The Coming Food Wars

  • February 17, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Superb piece my friend. We are definitely in the collapse as you say. It fascinates me that late last year we witnessed, largely without real concern, outright theft of the future through the TARP program. Nearly a half trillion was spent purchasing derivatives at face value that had a real value of about $.02 on the dollar. Nobody noticed, nobody cares. Outright theft, with explicitly no recourse.

    Our first issue is that we have degenerated into blindly-consuming, thumb-sucking aphids. Nobody makes anything, they don’t know how. Nobody thinks critically, they just subscribe to the lies du jour.

    Our culture is marching blindly and helplessly to the precipice where every fundamental premise of being, thinking, and survival is gone. They will not, and they can not adapt.

    I know some who read our words are simply shifting their subscriptions to place a survivalist patina in their mix. It’s still lattes all around, with pretenses to preparedness. Swapping sham identities might actually be worse than being a straight ahead aphid. One might imagine themselves prepared.

    The game we are entering now is for keeps. If one takes the devolution of the last 8 years and projects them out another 8 or 10, I don’t see how things don’t get vicious. I wrestle with bouts on a sine wave of emotions between anger and deep sadness. While I prefer a placid line of acceptance and grace, I find it requires diligence and the very highest adjustment I can muster to keep centered.

    As I write this our real unemployment is 18%. The aphids are falling off the false-flower they imagined would be durable and eternal. I am certain none of them are engaged either in preps, or in the emotional and mental work they need to do to face extreme hardship with resourcefulness or emotional balance. This is getting ugly.

    The aphids are now being forced out of the garden of earthly illusions. In Japan the elderly are being “thrown under the bus” in culture that supposedly values the old. Here social security has been spent many times over, even though we baby boomers had our tax doubled to pay our own way because everyone understood the traditional system of pay-go would not work for us. Our politicians pretend that that tax doubling never happened.

    We are on our own. We are victims of a cultural and governmental rape of the first order. Now most aphids are coping with a blend of Stockholm’s syndrome and cargo cultism. Our culture is totally insane, and with insanity, all the worst impulses of our species are on the table. We are wandering into the lower brain and will dwell there, likely for the short posterity before us.

    I hold out little hope, the “audacity of facts” are too great. This is not just collapse, our certain extinction is unfolding fast.


  • February 17, 2009 at 10:14 am

    From my perspective of “deep ecology” ‘playing out’ in “deep time” equates to “deep doom”.

    Any/all efforts to attempt to sustain the categorically unsustainable is directly comparable to picking fly-shit out of pepper as a means of deriving the calories to keep picking thru mountains of shit. Mining for Hope in Shit Mountain always produces tunnel collapse – aka dead miners- regardless of the quantity of fly-shit found.

    The “audacity of hope” is indeed insane.
    “In a mad world only the mad are sane.”

    Any light (hope) you may perceive as emanating from the end of this tunnel we all find our selves in, is merely a mirror hung on the terminal rock face that is reflecting the head lamp of the oncoming train.

  • February 17, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    As usual Michael, excellent comments and observations. Our affinity to denial, delusion and distraction earns us a solid “D” for doomed.

  • February 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    You are a f—ing Oracle John. I’ll take your quality writing over verbose BS anytime.

    Worse than I ever thought. I understand mine are just opinions and I am not married to them. Makes them a lot easier to let go of.

  • February 28, 2009 at 6:43 pm


    I have the exact same measure of disgust you and Admin feel. But I have to respectfully disagree with one of your observations:

    “It fascinates me that late last year we witnessed, largely without real concern, outright theft of the future through the TARP program. Nearly a half trillion was spent purchasing derivatives at face value that had a real value of about $.02 on the dollar. Nobody noticed, nobody cares.”

    I think people cared a great deal. A clear majority, if not an overwhelming majority of Americans thought the Bush-Paulson ripoff was just that – a ripoff. And they think the Obama-Geithner(sp?) ripoff is just that – a ripoff. But they feel powerless to change anything regarding government policy. I mean, they voted for change. Change didn’t happen. Well peripherally maybe, but not the kind of change argued for by Hansen, McKibbon, and Pollan, to name just a few.

    And as Admin as pointed out, perhaps having our money squandered on bailout the well-heeled is a good thing – after all – it will hasten the collapse of this country and the collapse of what is now called “civilization,” with its lies, wars, and exploitation.

    People are really at a loss right now. It’s weird to see fascist ideas begin to enter the mainstream. Are we in need of a Hitler to rescue us from the doom and gloom of Germany’s post WWI economy now remade under the guise of our federal reserve?

    Beyond outright fascism – the country also seems to be struggling with the notion that socialism should be tried now that capitalism has failed so miserably. It’s quite odd – like a flailing fish after having been unhooked and thrown on the deck.

    Exactly what the future holds is hard to say. But clearly it will be dark – more dark than any of us can imagine. Civil war is likely even within the country. Protection and protection rackets will rise as society breaksdown. Even though I live in an area where community still means something, you can see the flayed tempers in the media.

    At what point will it breakdown? At what point will we have to fight other Americans just to survive?

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