DailyDirt: Food Shortages

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

It's strange to know that the world actually produces enough food to feed everyone, but losses in distribution and economic issues prevent everyone from eating. There are estimates that the world produces enough food to feed the world's population about 2-3 times over, and about half of the global food supply is wasted. Still, nearly a billion people are undernourished. If you haven't lost your appetite yet, here are just a few more factoids on the topic of food shortages. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.


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  1.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 5:05pm

    Talking of food supplies (and indeed other resources), a significant part of the problem is that we, in the developed world, consume far more than we need. The world has plenty of resources for the population but we need to change our lifestyles to consume less. I honestly can't see that happening, though.

     

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    arcan, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:59pm

    honestly, this opinion definitely will not be popular. but it is one i have. We do not need to increase available resources. We need to decrease the population. At the rate we are going, how long till we hit ten billion, 15 billion. Eventually there will be so many people that there simply will not be enough resources to go around no matter what we do. the population growth has to stop. At this rate we are going to run out of everything and will revert back to the dark ages. Humanity will NEVER leave this planet at this rate. advancing to the point we can go elsewhere is the only way to survive as a species. and we just can't do it on the path we are on.

     

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    Anonymous, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:09pm

    Re:

    Then lead by example. Start with yourself.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:14pm

    World population

    There's a lot of variables in play, but the middle projection suggests world population will level off at around 9 billion in around 2100, and then drop slightly. Many developed countries (US aside) already have near or below-replacement fertility levels -- population growth in these countries is driven by immigration.

    China's one-child policy will has had a dramatic effect on their demographics, and this will continue (even if they radically changed their policy tomorrow) for at least 80 years. Unless someone invents a time machine.

    Going forward, population pressures will be felt in places like India and Pakistan, but these nations have a lot of other issues as well.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:30pm

    Humans are like yeast, we will use every single drop of resources and turn the environment we need to survive into a wasteland, no there will be no technology to save us from that unless we learn how to colonize space, which I doubt will happen anytime soon.

    The best places to live will be the very hard places where nobody wants to go like Siberia or Alaska.

     

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    DB, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:16pm

    Yes, there is plenty of food.

    No, we don't need to starve ourselves to feed the world.

    Every place there is a widespread lack of food, it's caused by politics or war preventing the food from reaching the people.

    Sub-Sahara Africa? Relief food rots at the dock, while tribes are starved for control in 'civil wars' that look more like genocide. North Korea? The wealthy, productive South is well fed just a few miles away.

    When I've tried to track down the claims that most of the food produced is 'wasted', it's usually repeating someone that misinterprets or deliberately misreads the numbers, or uses a definition of 'wasted' that isn't what you expect.

    As an example, most of the food you eat is 'wasted'. If you reduced your food intake to the point of almost starving, your body will use the food it has more efficiently. You'll be miserable, ineffective, and you'll be obsessed with food. Do you want to use that definition of 'wasted' to justify putting most of humanity in that condition? If so, there was extensive research on the subject in Axis concentration camps during WWII. 600 calories per day will keep most people alive, but over 900 calories is needed for them to do labor that isn't physically intensive.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 11:43pm

    Re:

    We need to decrease the population. At the rate we are going, how long till we hit ten billion, 15 billion. Eventually there will be so many people that there simply will not be enough resources to go around no matter what we do.

    Is that you, Thomas Malthus?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Robert_Malthus

     

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    PT (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 3:37am

    A great deal of the hunger in the world is not caused by actual shortages, but by index commodity speculation that drives prices up out of reach of the poor. Index commodity speculation is quite different from the normal kind of commodity futures trading, known as physical hedging. It has nothing to do with leveling market supply and demand. It's a purely financial instrument created by the likes of Goldman Sachs to allow people with massive amounts of money to gamble on the commodity exchanges, which they were previously barred from doing by the 1936 Commodity Market Act. Goldman quietly got the rules changed around 2003.

    Note, they're not actually trading commodity futures. They're doing "Commodity Index Swaps". From Wikipedia, "A Commodity swap is similar to a Fixed-Floating Interest rate swap. The difference is that in an Interest rate swap the floating leg is based on standard Interest rates such as LIBOR, EURIBOR etc. but in a commodity swap the floating leg is based on the price of underlying commodity like Oil, Sugar etc. No Commodities are exchanged during the trade." In other words, you give your money to the Wall Street bank and if the price of your commodity goes up by 10%, you get it back with 10% extra, less fees of course. But the sheer amount of money sloshing around in this business is enough to influence the market price on its own, and naturally, the bank has an interest in moving it in one direction.

    This speculation, and not supply and demand, is the reason you're paying $3.50 a gallon for gas today. Speculation drove the price from $40 a barrel to $140 in 2008, then the bubble burst and it fell back to $33 by year's end. Now they've driven it back up to around $100 again, though in fact, supply has increased and demand fallen since 2008. 2008 was also a peak year for speculation in soy beans, wheat, rice and other staples, which is why just the revelation that the Japanese rice stock existed was enough to collapse the price.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Re: population

    Fukushima will fix our population problem here pretty soon.

     

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    Anon-Y-Mouse (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Re: Hear! Hear!

    A great deal of the hunger in the world is not caused by actual shortages, but by index commodity speculation that drives prices up out of reach of the poor. Index commodity speculation is quite different from the normal kind of commodity futures trading, known as physical hedging. It has nothing to do with leveling market supply and demand. It's a purely financial instrument created by the likes of Goldman Sachs to allow people with massive amounts of money to gamble on the commodity exchanges, which they were previously barred from doing by the 1936 Commodity Market Act. Goldman quietly got the rules changed around 2003.

    Note, they're not actually trading commodity futures. They're doing "Commodity Index Swaps". From Wikipedia, "A Commodity swap is similar to a Fixed-Floating Interest rate swap. The difference is that in an Interest rate swap the floating leg is based on standard Interest rates such as LIBOR, EURIBOR etc. but in a commodity swap the floating leg is based on the price of underlying commodity like Oil, Sugar etc. No Commodities are exchanged during the trade." In other words, you give your money to the Wall Street bank and if the price of your commodity goes up by 10%, you get it back with 10% extra, less fees of course. But the sheer amount of money sloshing around in this business is enough to influence the market price on its own, and naturally, the bank has an interest in moving it in one direction.

    This speculation, and not supply and demand, is the reason you're paying $3.50 a gallon for gas today. Speculation drove the price from $40 a barrel to $140 in 2008, then the bubble burst and it fell back to $33 by year's end. Now they've driven it back up to around $100 again, though in fact, supply has increased and demand fallen since 2008. 2008 was also a peak year for speculation in soy beans, wheat, rice and other staples, which is why just the revelation that the Japanese rice stock existed was enough to collapse the price.

    Speculation can't be allowed in vital commodities like food, energy, and vital raw materials.
    --
    The computer is your friend. Trust in the computer.

     

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    arcan, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    did i ever say i would be one of the golden master race?

    my thoughts weren't genocide either. to put it simply, much stricter population controls. Set a child limit first, after a couple has had so many children(i don't mean still births either), sterilize the female. stop spending extreme resources to keep people alive for 80+ years. after lets say 75, if they need some lifesaving operation to live til they're 90, deny them it. Make it so it is not based on money, but applies to everyone. make receiving a black market organ transplant a capital offense. keep the basic health services, but stop going to extreme lengths to save people at the end of their lifespan. i am not saying it is ethical. I am not saying it is moral. But it is logical.

    and to be frank, if i live to 90 and someone wants to do a massive operation on me so i can live to be 100, i would say no.

     

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    McCrea (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Re:

    I have no problem paying about as much for gas as for milk, and the milk is subsidized. Gas is cheap.

     

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    Anonymous, Sep 8th, 2013 @ 5:54am

    I bought something yesterday that had a tag on it that said, "Genuine Leather - Made In India". What's wrong with this picture?

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Sep 8th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    Wrong, wrong oh so very wrong.

    This world does have the resources to cope with the population. It's just that the population needs to change the way they live and consume less.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2013 @ 9:41pm

    Re: World population

    Fun fact: the majority of the population slowdown is a symptom of societal pressures telling the population to have less children. Malthusian catastrophes are rare in human history.

    This could also lead to a much more rapid and terrifying doomsday scenario.

     

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