The coming global famine. Thoughts on how it will play out?

FAST6191

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While most people reading this will probably just have to learn to cook at best then for other parts of the world it is a bit more serious. First though we need to back up a bit as there are multiple causes of things here.

Whether you go for rule of 2s or rule of threes (3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food) then people need food, have done since the start and food production is probably second only to water (which is needed in it as well) in determining the fate of pre industrial nations. 3 weeks is rather on the high end as well -- society is 3 meals away from revolution and all that (see Sri Lanka at present).
Industrial farming practices (as opposed to subsistence) boosted things and increasing abilities to manipulate genetics has done further wonders for the calories per unit area, reliability and energy input to energy output, and technology (and these days services) have far more outsized impacts on financial aspects of a country. Equally while some of the earliest examples of futures contracts are from food (olive presses and monopolies thereof for a good one there) and equally clay tablets lost in a fire provide some of the earliest examples of text then the modern world does a lot more with food and finance (and indeed at present food futures contracts are some of the best performing aspects of the investment markets thus far this year ( https://tradingeconomics.com/commodities YoY = year over year, https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/lean-hogs https://rjofutures.rjobrien.com/futures-markets/agriculturals/lean-hog-futures https://markets.ft.com/data/commodities/tearsheet/summary?c=Feeder+Cattle https://etfdb.com/etfs/natural-reso...ame=ytd_percent_return&sort_order=desc&page=1 ). For reference/those more used to bitcoin and gamestop then 8% is a good return for a year in normal investments, this is a bad year so the usual point of comparison is the SPY which represents the main US stock market https://www.ytdreturn.com/spy/ which is down 15.48 percent from the start of the year to time of writing or 10000 USD at the start of the year is looking like 8452 at time of writing, all while inflation is officially 8% if you believe the government numbers (they have a vested interest in controlling it) but rather higher if you actually do the maths http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts or indeed note that a rising tide lifts all ships and wholesale prices for things are some 10% on the low end https://www.bls.gov/ppi/latest-numbers.htm . https://frac.org/hunger-poverty-america/foodinsecurityvisuals might also be of interest here.

Industrial farming practices tend to be a threefold combo of fertiliser, pesticides, and either shipping or mechanisation depending upon your world view (both have aspects in this so might even split that into four things to consider). NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium) is what fertiliser tends to be based around with the Phosphorous part of the equation being the most tricky -- it is actually relatively rare with most of the big production (never mind secondary products), Nitrogen only really being solved just over 100 years ago with the Haber process and Potassium having its own quirks as well.
As far as secondary processes, that is to say making fertiliser, then Russia and China are by far and away the world leaders. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1278057/export-value-fertilizers-worldwide-by-country/ . Russia being sanctioned right now, and China has been a net importer of food for a while (more on China later though as its troubles have an outsized impact on other things).

Mechanisation is having its own troubles -- see right to repair as it pertains to farm equipment and subsequent price rises in legacy equipment, with shipping (both intra country and in country) also likely to be troubled (intra tends to be mean trucks which means diesel which is also running very very low and getting very very expensive). https://www.theguardian.com/environ...aska-farmers-right-to-repair-john-deere-apple https://www.dailyveracity.com/2022/...ll-accelerate-coming-food-supply-catastrophe/

So any non fad diet will probably combine meat (easier to get proteins, fats and essential amino acids) and grains (cheap way to get calories -- give or take fish then meat is not efficient way of doing that, but can be raised in places where industrial farming is ill suited, but not overly nutritious outside of a few plants which are annoying to grow and prepare).
Grains tend to be wheat (Russia and Ukraine providing a lot of the world supply, albeit not really to the west, India now blocking exports as a heatwave has likely dropped yields considerably to be a net shrink over last year, Canada having not really planted any because fertiliser shortage so mostly soy beans this year, China being in lockdown which is causing its own massive issues in addition to the general lack of water and pollution and being a net importer anyway, one with noted massive stores/reserves), corn, soybeans and rice. https://www.statista.com/statistics/263977/world-grain-production-by-type/ (though that is skewed as a lot of that goes to feeding animals, https://ahdb.org.uk/news/global-wheat-and-maize-consumption-overview-grain-market-daily covers a few things and splits between human and animal).
While as noted above Russia and such provide a lot they don't tend to be places people reading this are likely sitting, however you would be a fool to think that will have no effect -- all the places your sources come from will be hit up by poorer countries that are the normal recipients of such things that remember all too well the Arab spring of a few years back and are all too aware of the 3 meals from revolution notion. You might also care about people in general.

On water. https://edition.cnn.com/2022/05/15/us/california-water-usage-increase-drought-climate/index.html , California, a desert for the most part, for reasons unknown also producing a lot of food for the US. https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/ noting "Over a third of the country's vegetables and two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts are grown in California.". China has its own problems with water here, which it is exporting to a lot of the rest of Asia. India we already covered (massive heatwave).

Dire times then are being predicted. Thoughts?
 

Skelletonike

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Personally I won't be that affected, I buy most of my groceries from local farmers (lots of farms where I live) and the meat, for the most part comes from the local butcher (the meat is also somewhat regional).


There has been a recent rise on prices though, some are understandable, others, not so much (a lot of people are increasing prices just because they can).

At work all the feedstock had massive price increases (some reaching an 80% increase), in turn, our prices had to be increased. This is all a vicious cycle that will just keep on going. Honestly, I'm surprised that home appliances and other basic electronics haven't had massive increases yet.

At the rate things are going, people with lower incomes will definitely be struggling a lot more, even in developed countries.
 

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Personally I won't be that affected, I buy most of my groceries from local farmers (lots of farms where I live) and the meat, for the most part comes from the local butcher (the meat is also somewhat regional).


There has been a recent rise on prices though, some are understandable, others, not so much (a lot of people are increasing prices just because they can).

At work all the feedstock had massive price increases (some reaching an 80% increase), in turn, our prices had to be increased. This is all a vicious cycle that will just keep on going. Honestly, I'm surprised that home appliances and other basic electronics haven't had massive increases yet.

At the rate things are going, people with lower incomes will definitely be struggling a lot more, even in developed countries.
You say that but someone comes along waving a fat stack of cash to the local farmers and... see what happens when someone discovers a superfood as it tends to price the natives out.

Not to mention https://oec.world/en/profile/bilateral-product/fertilizers/reporter/prt would appear to have Portugal as a net importer of fertilisers.

Wind in https://www.portugal.com/news/portugal-facing-extreme-drought/ (90% of it facing extreme drought apparently) and that could get fun, though there are at least some aquifers that are reasonably well managed ( https://easac.eu/fileadmin/PDF_s/reports_statements/Portugal_Groundwater_country_report.pdf ) unlike California noted above.
 

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You say that but someone comes along waving a fat stack of cash to the local farmers and... see what happens when someone discovers a superfood as it tends to price the natives out.

Not to mention https://oec.world/en/profile/bilateral-product/fertilizers/reporter/prt would appear to have Portugal as a net importer of fertilisers.

Wind in https://www.portugal.com/news/portugal-facing-extreme-drought/ (90% of it facing extreme drought apparently) and that could get fun, though there are at least some aquifers that are reasonably well managed ( https://easac.eu/fileadmin/PDF_s/reports_statements/Portugal_Groundwater_country_report.pdf ) unlike California noted above.
By local I meant old school farmers that live in my city, those old fellas live by the land and don't care much about the money (they're in their 60's, others in their 70's ) their fertilizer mostly comes from dung. Always hated that smell in the morning.

As for drought, this year has been pretty weird, we didn't have much rain for most of the year. Portugal has been having issues in the south for a several years now, the same area that produces most of the cork in the world already had a few lakes drying up.
 
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