Volume 3, Number 6, – Second Quarter 2008
The Price of Food is Soaring
The price of almost every staple On the demand side, we keep
People you should con-
grain has risen dramatically in the adding about 70 million new people to
tact about peak oil:
past year, along with many other the world each year. And large num-
foods. Any idea why that is? The bers of people in newly prosperous •Senator Barbara Boxer
fact is that there are a lot of pres- countries like China, India and some http://boxer.senate.gov/con-
sures coming together all at once. oil exporters, are “upgrading” their di- tact/email/policy.cfm
•Senator Dianne Feinstein
A severe, multi-year drought in ets to be more (wasteful) like ours.
Australia has halved the output of More meat means a larger ratio of
one of the world’s great grain ex- crops grown to calories consumed.
•Congressman Sam Farr
porters. Flooding and drought have Even better, many of the affluent in
1221 Longworth House Of-
reduced actual and expected crop the world have decided it’s a good fice Building
yields in other areas such as the idea to augment our fossil fuel supply Washington, DC 20515
American Midwest. Early springs with oil and alcohol made from food (202) 225-2861
combined with some late frosts have crops. Even though this is plainly not FAX (202) 225-6791
damaged the blossoms of some a solution to our energy problem, it is http://www.farr.house.gov/
confused plants. Honeybees are dy- a way to temporarily avoid making any •Governor Arnold Schw…
ing in scary numbers. hard choices, and so it continues. The
•President George Bush
The costs of agricultural inputs are world’s consumption of biofuels some
rising. Fertilizer and diesel fuel time ago exceeded the supply of used
prices are up sharply as a result of fryolator fat, but still governments
increasing demand and flat supply. mandate more biofuels, even though
Thanks to all those who have
Rising fuel costs are also raising the appropriate production methods re-
contributed help and funds to
price of shipping foods to market. main to be developed.
Government policies might be Unless a lot of lovely miracles hap-
partly to blame. The US no longer pen really soon, we face a number of
appears interested in keeping re- consequential choices almost immedi-
serves of grain to buffer bad harvest ately: Do we continue to eat large
years (isn’t just-in-time food produc- quantities of grain-fed meat? Should
tion just a little risky?). Some other poor people starve so we can continue
grain exporting countries have de- running SUV’S? Should we continue
cided to limit or even ban exports of shipping food thousands of miles to
some foods. market? Can we?
September 13, Saturday: “Local Effects of Climate ability Festival, Carmel Valley Middle School
Change, 2-4pm, Chautaugua Hall, Pacific October 1, Wednesday: UN-USA Global Warming
Grove Event, Monterey Conference Center
September 20: MGA Coastal Clean-up Event October 1, Wednesday: USGBC Plug-in Hybrids and
September 21-23, Sun-Tues: ASPO Peak Oil Con- Electric Vehicles, Moss Landing Marine Labs,
ference, Sacramento 6:30 pm
September 20: Coastal Clean-up Event
September 26: MGA film series at East Village
October: Solar Fair and Sustainability Festival
Cafe: Fields of Fuel, 7 pm
September 27, Saturday: Solar Fair and Sustain-
Mission: Helping our communities meet the challenges of climate change
and peak oil.
CITIZENS for a SUSTAINABLE MONTEREY COUNTY
Hurt by rain, U.S. corn crop to fall short of demand
By Sue Kirchhoff and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
THE AVERAGE CALORIE IN WASHINGTON — Torrential rains and flooding in the Mid-
THE AMERICAN DIET west could soon mean consumers face even higher prices
10 FOSSIL for meat, eggs, dairy and other foods. The U.S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture on Tuesday slashed its estimate for the
volume of this year's corn crop because of wet and flooded
fields, prompting corn prices to surge to new records on
Chicago futures exchanges.
Contracts for July delivery hit $6.73 a bushel, with prices
High cost and demand for fertilizer
for later months soaring above $7.25 per bushel, more
than double 2006 levels. Cattle futures prices also rose as
traders bet producers would reduce herds — and future
By JAMES HANNAH
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Corn stalks nor- meat supply — in the face of mounting feed prices.
mally dominate the fields of farmer Lyle …
McKanna. But this summer, leafy green
Decent weather isn't on the horizon. Heavy rain is fore-
soybean plants will swallow up more
cast for the Midwest later this week. Already, parts of
acreage than ever.
southern Indiana, Illinois and Missouri have endured the
McKanna, who farms 800 acres near
Lima, has replaced more than one-fourth of wettest spring on record, according to data from the Na-
his corn crop with soybeans, which require tional Climatic Data Center. Records date back to 1894.
far less fertilizer.
In Waterloo, Iowa, for example, rainfall from March 1
In part because of a global surge in de-
through June 10 has been 24.5 inches, vs. an average for
mand, the price of fertilizer has skyrocket-
the period of 10.9, inches, according to the National
ed 228 percent since 2000, forcing U.S.
farmers to switch crops, cut back on fertiliz- Weather Service.
er or search for manure as a substitute. The Agriculture Department said sodden conditions have
Wholesalers and retailers are scrambling to
hurt planting and potential crop yields. It now expects U.S.
find and buy fertilizer and juggle what sup-
farmers to harvest 10% less corn this year than in 2007.
plies they have to meet customers' needs.
Growers are expected to produce an 11.7 billion-bushel
Between 2001 and 2006, global demand
jumped 14 percent, an amount equivalent crop. Carryover stocks could be the lowest since 1996.
to the entire U.S. market, according to The quot;It's bad,quot; says Joe Victor of commodities firm Allendale,
Fertilizer Institute, a Washington D.C.-
who said about 20% of the Midwest corn crop was under-
based trade group.
water after last weekend's storms.
The price increase means the cost of fer-
tilizing an acre of average-yield U.S. corn The ethanol industry will use 4 billion bushels of corn this
rose from about $30 to $160. year, up from 3 billion last year.
Global food supply is a growing problem
Retailers and politicians are seeking ways to keep the global food crisis from hitting the UK, writes James Hall
Food riots. Scores of panicked people protesting, burning effigies and chanting. Shops being ransacked, supplies running out
as soon as they come in, and stricken communities stockpiling rice, bread and water for fear of going without. These have
happened in Haiti and Egypt in recent months as the price of scarce food has soared.
But what if they happened on the streets of Bromley? Or Newcastle? Or Bath? As bizarre as this might seem, the prospect
of UK food shortages has started to be taken seriously by food manufacturers and retailers.
The global food shortage has raced to the top of the political agenda in recent weeks due to a nasty combination of in-
creasing demand, falling supply and ever-costlier production and selling prices…
There are four trends driving global food scarcity: global population growth (it is expected to grow from 6.7bn to 9bn by
2042), the increasing use of crops for fuel rather than food, the Westernisation of diets in the Far East, and a diminishing
bank of farming land due to urbanisation and climate change.
CITIZENS for a SUSTAINABLE MONTEREY COUNTY
The way economists define their terms, prices seek a level where
supply and demand for a commodity are equal. If rising prices
don’t bring increased supply, demand must fall. If your demand
is for subsistence, reducing it means starvation.
The Oil Drum http://www.theoildrum.com/
Association for the Study of Peak Oil--USA http://www.aspo-usa.com/
Energy Bulletin http://www.energybulletin.net
Oil Addiction: The World in Peril, Pierre Chomat
Eating Fossil Fuels, Dale Allen Pfeiffer
Plan B 2.0, Lester R. Brown
Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, Meadows, Randers & Meadows
We’re on the Web!
See us at:
Citizens for a Sustainable Monterey County—CSMC—is now an ap-
http://www.sustainablemonterey- proved 501c-3 non-profit corporation. We can now accept tax deductible
county.org/ donations and act as a fiscal umbrella organization for local sustainability
action groups. That’s mostly because of the efforts of Robert & Denyse
Frischmuth, and we thank them for that.
A new presidential election is coming up, and I hope the result will be
CSMC Board Members
wiser leadership for US. A vast task lies ahead of us, and about all we
Ruth Smith, Chair
are getting so far from government is evasion, obfuscation, obstruction
and denial. Meanwhile, the train wreck proceeds apace.
The concept of peak oil seems to be rapidly gaining attention in the me-
Secretary and Co-treasurer
dia—at least the financial media. I predict that by five years after the
peak, most people will acknowledge it and want to do something about it.
Even though I mostly drive a Prius now, I’ve kept my old (284,000 miles)
BMW, and I took it out for a wash and its first $70+ fillup last night. I don’t
know about you, but for me that focuses my attention pretty well. Al-
George Wilson, ready, many people in Europe pay about twice as much per gallon, and I
831-372-0659 wouldn’t be surprised to see it double here in the next year or two.
What sort of pain will that cause in the US economy? Will tourists still
Denyse Frischmuth, come from everywhere to the Monterey Peninsula? How far will truckers
831-643-0707 ship produce from Monterey County farms when diesel is $10 per gallon?
Urban Environmental Accords Coordi-
Will fruit still fly here from Chile in the winter? How many airlines will be
left, and how much will they charge to fly us to the East Coast or Europe
or New Zealand? Will bedroom communities far from commuters’ work-
places need to be abandoned? Will traffic get lighter? How unsettling will
it be if it does?
If the climate continues to act up, will we be able to adapt our agricul-
ture fast enough? Will California continue with drought and these awful
fires? Will extreme rain events continue to ruin crops? What are we go-
ing to do about it?
Program Heads: Mark Folsom
phone # 831-656-0664
Big Sur Powerdown
Phone: 831 648 1543
Stephen Mally for The New York Times
A field was flooded near Newhall, Iowa, as officials feared that the worst Midwest flooding may lie ahead.