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Century of Starvation

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   9 comments
Message Christopher Calder

Most Americans do not realize that the United States is slowly running out of two essential ingredients for producing food, topsoil for plants to grow in, and phosphates to make fertilizer. At some point in the second half of the 21st century, our ability to grow vast amounts of grain in the American Midwest will be so diminished that our society will inevitably start to collapse, just as the Mayan Empire collapsed in the 9th century. The per capita food production capacity of the world has been in steady decline for years due to the expected stresses of an expanding population on finite agricultural resources. A significant accelerator of this loss of food supply security has been the political mandating of increased biofuel production by Republican George W. Bush, and Democrat Barack Obama.

Growing corn for ethanol eats up huge amounts of phosphate based fertilizers, and greatly increases the speed at which topsoil erodes. Half of America's Midwest food growing capacity in the form of vital topsoil is now peacefully resting at the bottom of the Mississippi, Atchafalaya, and other rivers, washed away by the wind and rain. This has all been caused by essential food farming combined with nonessential biofuel production. If things were not bad enough, both Barack Obama and environmentalist guru Amory Lovins now want to increase the rate of erosion by using so-called "crop residue" to make costly, energy inefficient cellulosic ethanol. This tactic will rob our soils of nutrients, making them less fertile and requiring the use of even more phosphate based fertilizers. Also lost will be the normally plowed under plant fibers needed to hold soils together, which ward off further erosion. In effect, both Lovins and Obama wish to mine our topsoil for hydrocarbon energy, just as they have supported drilling our human food supply for carbohydrate energy in the past.

Large scale biofuel production began in the United States at the urging of Amory Lovins and an agricultural industry hungry to make big profits. In 1976, Foreign Affairs magazine published Amory Lovins's seminal pro-biofuel article, "Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken," which Lovins later expanded into his book, "Soft Energy Paths." When President Jimmy Carter welcomed Lovins into the Oval Office in 1978 for a friendly visit, Lovins's book was reportedly resting on the president's desk. President Carter signed the first ethanol biofuel subsidy bill in 1979, and biofuel production was continued under Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and greatly expanded by George W. Bush when he signed the now infamous Energy Independence and Security Act on December 19, 2007.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, farm belt politician Barack Obama was flown around the country on corporate jets owned by the giant corn-ethanol corporation, Archer Daniels Midland, better known as ADM. The late Tim Russert asked Obama on NBC's Meet The Press if he would "rethink" his ethanol biofuel policy in light of the obvious inflationary effect biofuel production was having on world food prices. Obama admitted that ethanol was a serious cause of food price inflation, and promised to review his policies. A few days later Obama toured a biodiesel factory with Joe Biden and declared it a great success. Obama was repeatedly warned about the destructive nature of biofuels by his own advisers, yet he continued to promote a disastrous energy policy in order to win the Iowa Caucus and the general election.

Even today, after all that has been discovered about how biofuel production pollutes the environment, increases greenhouse gas release, causes devastation of rainforests and destruction of animal habitat, Barack Obama almost unbelievably continues to champion the idea of turning our own food into fuel, and he wishes to expand ethanol production by allowing fuel blenders to increase the ethanol mix for cars and truck from 10% to 15%. This move will undoubtedly increase engine maintenance costs, as well as seriously escalate food price inflation. Obama has temporarily delayed his push for expanded corn-vodka fuel production only after a diverse group of 36 organizations objected to his recklessness. The group, called Follow The Science (FollowTheScience.org), includes the Sierra Club, the American Frozen Food Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Friends of the Earth, and the National Resources Defense Council.

A record number of Americans now require food stamps just to survive, and Barack Obama is planning to cut food stamps benefits at the same time he wants to increase food costs by turning even more of it into fuel. Food supply security seem to be the very last thing on Barack Obama's mind, and he does not appear to be losing any sleep over the many millions of deaths due to malnutrition and related illness that global biofuel production has caused over the years. Barack Obama seems to think that fighting his pride driven war in far away Afghanistan is vital, while protecting America's food growing capacity is unimportant.

If Democrats wish to be the saviors of planet earth, they need to run a thoughtful and compassionate candidate against Barack Obama in the 2012 United States presidential primary.

Christopher Calder


Suggested reading:

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN - Phosphorus Famine: The Threat to Our Food Supply

FOREIGN POLICY - Peak Phosphorus, by James Elser and Stewart White

SEATTLE PI - The lowdown on topsoil: It's disappearing

Cornel University CHRONICLE-ONLINE - 'Slow, insidious' soil erosion threatens human health and welfare as well as the environment, Cornell study asserts

Food Versus Biofuels: Environmental and Economic Costs

Crop Residue May Be Too Valuable to Harvest for Biofuels

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Christopher Calder is an advocate for world food supply security with no financial interest in any energy related business.
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