Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We might be a bit more screwed than you think

Droughts - from Spain to the south-east US to northern Africa are suffering drought. Mostly because last year was the hottest year on record and the year before that was the hottest year on record. This year is shaping up to be the hottest year on record and on a global scale that means global problems as the crops fail and lead food shortages.

Food riots - It turns out that people like to eat food and when they can't eat food they break stuff. Why don't they just sit there and die like good little people. Just because you ate last week doesn't mean you get food this week. Sure, you barely made enough to buy a bowl of rice and since the price of rice has tripled you can afford three times as much rice (I took a lot of math in college).

Aid workers are worried... at least they are when they aren't sexually abusing children.

"They offered us 100 Haitian gourdes ($2.80) and some chocolate if we would suck them. I said, 'No,' but some of the girls did it and got the money."

It doesn't help at all that the US is turning our food (we eat corn, everything is corn) into ethanol to augment our gasoline in what might be a break even process to fuel our cars. This is useful in several ways.
1) It doesn't work. It takes as much energy as we get out to get it in.
2) It exacerbates the food shortages and price spikes by limiting the supply of food.
3) It takes a massive amount of water, which as we see above, we don't have very much of.

In the US we pump a lot of ground water from underground lakes. We use about a gallon of water to make a teaspoon of ethanol.

Which brings us back to price of gasoline which is closely tied to the price of oil. We are running out of light crude. So we need to use the dirtier sources. For now that means pumping the gunk out of the bottom of rigs we stopped using and exploiting the tar sands. Soon it will mean getting massive amounts of oil from the oil shale. Ironically at $150 a barrel we actually are set to become energy independent. The US has so much oil shale that we could effectively gas up our Hummers for decades. The gas is going to cost $15 a gallon, but it'll be American gas! We should, as a result of our policies allow farmers to sell their products at a premium (the reason there are so many advocates for ethanol) and become energy independence. Be careful what you wish for.

Oil Use->Global Warming
Coal Use->Global Warming
Global Warming->Drought
Drought->Water Use
Drought->Crop Failure
Crop Failure->Food Shortage
Food Shortage->Food Riots
Oil Use->Peak Oil
Peak Oil->Oil Prices
Oil Prices->Food Prices
Food Prices->Food Shortage
Food Shortage->Sexual Abuse
Ethanol->Food Prices

From hummers to hummers, we're a little bit fucked.

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