17 de setembro de 2011

No entretanto, entre o Jardim e a extensão do gelo no Ártico, importa ir tendo atenção a isto ...

Global Food Prices Stuck Near Record High Levels | ThinkProgress

World food prices remained virtually unchanged between July and August 2011 according to the FAO Food Price Index published today.
The Index averaged 231 points last month compared to 232 points in July. It was 26 percent higher than in August 2010 but seven points below its all-time high of 238 points in February 2011.

In over two decades of tracking world food prices, the U.N. Food and Agricultural organization index has never stayed so high for so high.  This represents true suffering for hundreds of millions of people who live on the edge, for whom food is a large fraction of their income like, say, North Africa (see Expert consensus grows on contribution of record high food prices to Middle East unrest).

And this year’s warming-driven extreme weather is likely to help keep food prices high for a while:

Food prices could rise next year because an unseasonably hot summer likely damaged much of this year’s corn crop….
The estimated surplus is down from last month’s forecast and well below levels that are considered healthy….
“We just didn’t have a good growing year,” said Jason Ward, an analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. “It was too hot, too warm, too dry at the wrong time.”
… More expensive corn drives food prices higher because corn is an ingredient in everything from animal feed to cereal to soft drinks.

We are unlikely to return to sustained low food prices for a variety of reasons:
And, on top of that, given our current inaction, climate change is  just going to get worse and worse for many decades.  I and others have written at length about its dire implications for food security:
That is the medium- and long-term future.  As the FAO documents, the near-term future is not promising either:
Low inventories

Total cereal utilization in 2011/12 is forecast to increase by 1.4 percent, almost matching anticipated 2011 production.  As a result, global cereal inventories by the close of seasons in 2012 are likely to remain close to their already low opening levels.  Only rice stocks are expected to increase significantly, supported by record production.
Wheat inventories are likely to decline to their lowest level since 2009 and world stocks of coarse grains are also forecast to plunge, with maize inventories falling to 124 million tonnes, their lowest level since 2007. Given the tight global supply and demand balance for coarse grains, its stocks-to-use ratio is forecast to fall to a historical low of 13.4 percent.
The world needs to come together very soon to develop a comprehensive food security strategy because we are headed off a cliff.

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