Thursday, April 24, 2008

This is what the beginning of FOOD SHORTAGES would look like

Reports have come in from all over the world, the web, CNN, CNBC. MSNBC on rationing of large food staples such as rice, wheat, and cooking oil at Costco, Sam's Club, and Walmart thoughout the United States.

The U.S. will not be experiencing "food riots" anytime soon (unless we engage Iran militarily, at which point I would not count on those diesel "warehouses on wheels" showing up at your local grocery store... there are events that would prove me wrong but which, I believe, are highly unlikely. I hope those are not "famous last words"...), but let me ask you a question:

What else would the BEGINNING of food shortages look like? (I wouldn't envision Darth Vader running through the parking lots of gorcery stores impaling folks and making off with their bags of cheeze doodles...) What did the beginning of the U.S. energy shortage look like? (Don't think we have an energy shortgage? Ha! We have a significant shortage of $1.50 gasoline...) Let's look back all of 4 years:

Oil broke $40 per barrel in early 2004, and the oil companies and Wall Street and the U.S. Department of Energy all told the public "not to worry", things would be back to normal soon. At $50 per barrel oil was declared to be in a bubble. At $60 per barrel, "remain calm", Hydrogen technology will save us (seen any Hydrogen around lately?). At $75 the U.S instituted the ethanol mandates, which had the undesirable unintended consequnce of significantly contributing to food price inflation. At $100, the public STARTED to hear talk of how there is plently of oil, but we are running out of CHEAP oil. At $120, the media, Big Oil, and Government broke out the "Bubble of all Bubbles" propaganda... which is where we are today.

Now oil is something we can conserve, something we CAN get by with less of. What about food? Can we "conserve" food? Be "Green" on food? Ration food?

Let me ask you another question:

Should we/you risk it? What if "they" are as wrong about food as "they" were about oil?

Just go to Google. Type in "World grain Invenories 2008". READ. ANY QUESTIONS?

Now calculate the effects of 75 million more folks showing up on spaceship Earth each and every year, a new United States every 4 years, and explain to me where the energy and food is going to come from to feed, and warm, transport them all? BTW, care to explain how 4.5% of the world's popualtion (the U.S.) is going to continue to consume 25% of the world's energy? Forget justifying it, just tell me how the U.S. could POSSIBLY enforce it. NAFC (That's a technical term used in many E.R.'s for patients that ain't gonna make it... Not A F%#$!! Chance).

Everything from the drop off line at little jimmy's school to trips to Disney World are going to come to a screeching halt SOMETIME in the next several years (want to buy some swampland in Florida near Disney?).

Speaking of Florida... or any other hurricane vulnerable area... Take a good look at the file footage from New Orleans and Katrina. Now mix in a shortgage of diesel fuel and gasoline, a housing crisis, a recession, and a hurricane... shake vigorously... and out comes a 4 million person refugee camp, in the Florida heat, no less.

BTW, have a nice day!

Yours for better (slimmer, trimmer you!) world,

Mentatt (at)


Anonymous said...

A nice summary was written at

Secondly, I keep seeing smug commentary that the Fed is not printing money, ie the M3 money supply. But I think I agree more with the viewpoint that if those 90 day loans can be rolled over, and over for up to the 3 years, then it is in essence added to the money supply. Do you see that as the reality of the situation?

Anonymous said...

You forgot price increases in your excellent post, Mr. Jeffers! Anyone not brain dead or served by a throng of servants has noticed this. I don't think that the US will have food shortages for awhile, but more and more of us 'Merkins aren't going to have the money to pay for it. Of course, the gov't is making things worse with the Ethanol Boondoggle, but I'm not surprised.


Greg T. Jeffers said...

My apologies. In many a previous post I mention food price increases and their concomitant effect on the poor and politics.

Anonymous said...

The stress is building in the global system. As an interconnected network the global civilization is remarkably resilient up to a point and then when pushed pass its breaking point can collapse unpredictably, rapidly and violently. Where this breaking point is we don't know but it may be a small thing or a big one that will cause the cascading effect and collapse. We are now seeing the stresses blow out in unexpected ways. Because the world is so specialized all of the experts are in their own silos and are not focusing on systemic approaches. Most of the time they are focused on their own slice of the pie. In the electric power grid the guys who focus on logistics of coal extraction are not really concerned with power generation and the power generation experts are not really worried about either the coal extraction or transportation or energy distribution. There are, after all, people whose job it is to make sure it all gets done. They are perhaps seeing stresses on their slice of the pie but they tend to discount the input components as given. So when the coal doesn't arrive because of diesel shortages then the power generation guys are caught by surprise. Or if the distribution grid goes down because of copper wire theft caused by economic hardship then their ability to generate power is rendered useless. So here we are waiting for the collapse but we don't know when and where it will come.

I just saw a nice presentation from Matthew Simmons about the energy crisis already being here. His supposition is that we are already at dangerously low levels of gasoline in our supply chain. If everyone gets even slightly concerned and just tops off their gas tanks we are going to run out of gas in the gas stations in just two days. Then even if we all practically stopped driving it would take 60 days to build the levels back up to normal. I find it impossible to assume that people would stop driving but the possibility of CHRONIC shortages is there just because of potential psychological change on the part of the general populace. I think that we can see that panic buying can occur even when no supply constraint issues are actually occurring. We can see this with rice in the US. The panic buying is occurring within a very small percentage of the population just because of some news from overseas but its enough to cause the shelves to run dry in some stores which causes additional panic buying to occur and potentially spread into other foodstuff or even gasoline perhaps.

What I wanted to say is that is why I like this blog because in it's limited mandate of focusing on the connection between peak oil and how it impacts a middle aged man with some cash in their pocket it is already miles ahead in showing the interconnectedness between peak oil and real economy. Keep up the good work Greg.

Yours for an interesting world,
Chuck H.
"Is Survival just procrastination?"

Greg T. Jeffers said...


It is OK for ME to describe myself as a "middle aged man", but I hate to here it from others... just kidding. You left grey and bit thick in the middle...

THank you for your kind words - I do keep the mandate limited to the things I can have some positive influence on, and to be informative to others that might buy into the constant stream of manipulations coming from the Media.

In the final analysis it is all about our responsibilities to our families and our friends. An old saying from my blue collar home town, gritty factory town just north of the New York City line -"it is what it is" - comes to mind. Indeed.

Lane Gallichio said...

Wish all were as pragmatic and honest as you, Greg.
ThanX for the warning.