CHEAP FOOD AND CHEAP OIL ARE ONLY MEMORIES

1 02 2008

The US-based Car Connection reports that most of us are steeling ourselves for $4 gas–at least…

The overwhelming majority of Americans anticipate prices at the pump will hit $4 a gallon by summer, while a sizable minority believe the number could go even higher this year, according to a newly-released study by the Civil Society Institute.

Meanwhile, in England, Road Transport.com suggests a tripling of fuel prices will be here before we know it:

The cost of oil could pass the $300/barrel mark if there is a 15% shortfall in the supply of crude in the future – and most research suggests a much greater shortfall than that within 20 years. At a meeting this week of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil, Toronto-based transport consultant Richard Gilbert revealed that while oil consumption is expected to increase by about a third by 2025 to more than 40 billion barrels a year, production will have fallen to less than 25 billion barrels.

and The Economist tries to look at the bright side of rising food prices:

FOR as long as most people can remember, food has been getting cheaper and farming has been in decline. In 1974-2005 food prices on world markets fell by three-quarters in real terms. Food today is so cheap that the West is battling gluttony even as it scrapes piles of half-eaten leftovers into the bin.

That is why this year’s price rise has been so extraordinary. Since the spring, wheat prices have doubled and almost every crop under the sun—maize, milk, oilseeds, you name it—is at or near a peak in nominal terms. The Economist‘s food-price index is higher today than at any time since it was created in 1845 (see chart). Even in real terms, prices have jumped by 75% since 2005. No doubt farmers will meet higher prices with investment and more production, but dearer food is likely to persist for years (see article). That is because “agflation” is underpinned by long-running changes in diet that accompany the growing wealth of emerging economies—the Chinese consumer who ate 20kg (44lb) of meat in 1985 will scoff over 50kg of the stuff this year. That in turn pushes up demand for grain: it takes 8kg of grain to produce one of beef.

***

If handled properly, dearer food is a once-in-a-generation chance to narrow income disparities and to wean rich farmers from subsidies and help poor ones. The ultimate reward, though, is not merely theirs: it is to make the world richer and fairer.

music: Monty Python, “The Bright Side of Life”

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: