Lester Brown on the collapse of the world food bubble

 

Over the last twenty-some years, in more than a dozen of his books and annual reports, Lester Brown has been describing the interlocking global economic/ecological changes that are converging in multiple ways to a variety of catastrophic outcomes – with rapidly increasing probability estimates.  Here is a (a selection from) a press release on his latest work – on the impending collapse of the world food bubble. His statistical work is impeccable and his perceptions and predictions are being studied by government and scientific experts around the world. They should be required reading for all – especially journalists, school teachers and those charged with the responsibility of educating the public.

“If we cannot reverse these trends, economic decline is inevitable,” notes Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental research organization. “No civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support systems. Nor will ours.

“The question is not whether the food bubble will burst but when,” says Brown. While the U.S. housing bubble was created by the overextension of credit, the food bubble is based on the overuse of land and water resources. It is further threatened by the climate stresses deriving from the excessive burning of fossil fuels. When the U.S. housing bubble burst, it sent shockwaves through the world economy, culminating in the worst recession since the Great Depression. When the food bubble bursts, food prices will soar worldwide, threatening economic and political stability everywhere. For those living on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder, survival itself could be at stake. …

“How much time do we have before the food bubble bursts?” asks Brown. “No one knows. If we stay with business as usual, the time is more likely measured in years than in decades. We are now so close to the edge that politically destabilizing food price rises could come at any time.”

“The new reality,” says Brown, “is that the world is only one poor harvest away from chaos. It is time to to reverse these trends on the scale and urgency of the U.S. mobilization for World War II. The challenge is to quickly reduce carbon emissions, stabilize population, and restore the economy’s soils, aquifers, forests, and other natural support systems. This requires not only a redefining of security but a corresponding reallocation of fiscal resources from military budgets to budgets for climate stabilization, population stabilization, water conservation, and other new threats to security.”

For decades, we environmentalists have talked about saving the planet. Now it is civilization itself that is at stake.

For the rest see: http://www.earth-policy.org/books/wote/wotepr

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