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View Full Version : Red Cross warns of food riots over soaring prices


Achilles
05-27-2008, 07:34 PM
Link (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080527/ap_on_re_eu/red_cross_food_violence) GENEVA - The Red Cross warned Tuesday of a possible surge in "food-related violence" because of soaring prices that are increasing hunger around the world.

Most of the debate surrounding the global food crisis has focused on boosting aid to poorer countries, but there is also concern about the potential for violence as people become desperate for food, said Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross. I want to say that it was about a year ago that I heard a bit on NPR about how the U.S. government was forming an intelligence office to deal with the potential political ramification of global warming. One of the examples that they provided as justification for this office was the global war over diminished food supply, habitable land, drinkable water, etc.

Whether global warming is "real" or not, our resources are dwindling. I hope that we can find a way to get a handle on things before they get anymore out of hand then they already are.

Rev7
05-27-2008, 07:44 PM
Wow. If only we could figure out/utilize how plants make food. Then there would be plenty of food for all. It might not taste the best, but at least it would be food.

EnderWiggin
05-27-2008, 08:23 PM
Wow. If only we could figure out/utilize how plants make food. Then there would be plenty of food for all. It might not taste the best, but at least it would be food.

You mean like harness photosynthesis?

Or like... figure out how to eat plants?

_EW_

Rev7
05-27-2008, 08:26 PM
You mean like harness photosynthesis?

Or like... figure out how to eat plants?

_EW_
More like harness photosynthesis. That sounds a little sci-fi-y, but I think that it would be a great idea.

Achilles
05-27-2008, 08:33 PM
Ignoring any scientific inaccuracies present, even if we could do this, we'd have to find a way to manipulate the plants to grow with little or no water, else we'd simply be solving our food shortage issues at the expense of exacerbating our fresh water supply issues.

The good news for the ecology is that once we extend our population beyond what our habitat is capable of supporting, a "correction" will take place via famine, war, etc. The bad news is that I don't think any of us want to be at the front of that line and the odds are probably good that we'll take some other species with us.

Rev7
05-27-2008, 08:49 PM
Ignoring any scientific inaccuracies present, even if we could do this, we'd have to find a way to manipulate the plants to grow with little or no water, else we'd simply be solving our food shortage issues at the expense of exacerbating our fresh water supply issues.
It was only a thought...

The good news for the ecology is that once we extend our population beyond what our habitat is capable of supporting, a "correction" will take place via famine, war, etc. The bad news is that I don't think any of us want to be at the front of that line and the odds are probably good that we'll take some other species with us.
I certainly don't want to be there either. This Earth is starting to get overpopulated/ is already overpopulated. The question is, how are we going to be able to support so many people? I am not even sure that there is an answer to that question.

Achilles
05-27-2008, 08:57 PM
At the risk of taking the thread off-topic, I think your question raises some interesting concerns about the ethics of extending life expectancy, creating better vaccines against disease, etc. :(

Rev7
05-27-2008, 10:00 PM
^
One, question. Is that a bad thing?

Achilles
05-27-2008, 10:08 PM
I refuse to answer your question on the basis that I don't know the answer :)

Rev7
05-27-2008, 10:13 PM
Okay. By not answering m question, you answered it. If there is such a thing. Thanks!

Litofsky
05-27-2008, 10:16 PM
Over my time on this planet, I've picked up a few ways of thinking about things, including the future of our species. This is one of those 'things:'

Humanity (in terms of population) will continue to grow exponentially. Think of our population like this:

.= Small items added for space

................3)
............. ------
............./.......l
............/........l 4)
........2)/.........l
........../..........\
........./............\
.....1)/...............\ ....5)
-----/..................---------


Key:
1) The past few centuries (1500-1900). Humanity has had relatively few members during that time, compared to 2008.
2) Sort of the 'Rising Action' of our species. People will continue to reproduce at astounding rates, and the food supply will be stretched to its limit (either soon or in the next few decades).
3) The 'apex' or 'terminal limit.' This is the point when our food supply will only be able to supply a limited number of people.
4) Either a massive more, or famine, will occur, killing off a good portion of our population. You don't want to be alive for this time. Anarchy ensues.
5) Anarchy reigns supreme now, and almost all order has collapsed. Sort of like a 'loop of time.'
* * *
Now, I realize that this is just a 'loose graph,' and that not everything might necessarily be true, but, to me, it seems that this is likely, if not inevitable. With the exponential growth of our population, we're either going to other planets and make them an 'agricultural planet,' or completely destroy each other.

Thoughts on that?

Achilles
05-27-2008, 10:17 PM
Okay. By not answering m question, you answered it. If there is such a thing. Thanks!Nice!

FWIW, I think there are good arguments on both sides. I would say that I need to stew on them for a while before making up my mind one way or the other but the truth is I've been stewing on this matter for years. *shrugs*

Thoughts on that? The thing that keeps coming up for me is that historically speaking, some naturally occurring events have helped to keep the population in check. Ice ages, plagues and epidemics, natural disasters, etc. Climate change (if it's happening, a conclusion that I tend to agree with) might be much more than we're capable of bouncing back from (i.e. irreparable damage to our habitat). Our advances in medicine seem to be on the verge of being able to eliminate disease and illness (we sequenced SARS in less than a month, IIRC. How long until we can create designer vaccinations in that timespan?).

So basically for me it comes down to there being to many variables at play to feel comfortable guessing one way or the other. My 2 cents.

Litofsky
05-27-2008, 10:21 PM
Nice!

FWIW, I think there are good arguments on both sides. I would say that I need to stew on them for a while before making up my mind one way or the other but the truth is I've been stewing on this matter for years. *shrugs*

Well, with dwindling food supplies, how long do you think that Humanity can continue to survive? Unless we grew chloroplasts, I don't think that we'll last long without food. :p

Achilles
05-27-2008, 10:27 PM
Well, with dwindling food supplies, how long do you think that Humanity can continue to survive? Unless we grew chloroplasts, I don't think that we'll last long without food. :pTwo words: tofu planet

Rev7
05-27-2008, 10:39 PM
Now, I realize that this is just a 'loose graph,' and that not everything might necessarily be true, but, to me, it seems that this is likely, if not inevitable. With the exponential growth of our population, we're either going to other planets and make them an 'agricultural planet,' or completely destroy each other.

Thoughts on that?
I really think that we are getting off topic!

To make a planet habitable, for example Mars, you would have to Terraform (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraform) it. This process takes hundreds of years. Is there even enough time to make this happen? By that I mean, wouldn't you think that we would run out of room on Earth, and as you were talking about, "stretched to its limit"?
Nice!

FWIW, I think there are good arguments on both sides. I would say that I need to stew on them for a while before making up my mind one way or the other but the truth is I've been stewing on this matter for years. *shrugs*

Same here!
Unless we grew chloroplasts.
This was kinda what I was talking about. I just really didn't know how to explain it. :)

Litofsky
05-27-2008, 10:53 PM
I really think that we are getting off topic!

Quite.

To make a planet habitable, for example Mars, you would have to Terraform (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraform) it. This process takes hundreds of years.

Who says that we have to terraform a planet? Why not create a massive dome, put some plants in it, and bring some water? Creating a tiny ecosystem will allow for much more food to be grown. Of course, I realize that what I've stated is not as simple as it looks, but, in theory, it might work.


This was kinda what I was talking about. I just really didn't know how to explain it. :)

Glad I was able to sum that up for you, then!

On a different note, I've read that everyone in the World would be able to fit in Texas (though, that was a few years ago). However, today, I would assume that the entire United States is a better bet. Cultural and ethnic differences aside, the entire world would be in one location, allowing for all others to become cropland! Of course, for this to work, we'd have to be near automatons. :p

Rev7
05-27-2008, 10:57 PM
Who says that we have to terraform a planet? Why not create a massive dome, put some plants in it, and bring some water? Creating a tiny ecosystem will allow for much more food to be grown. Of course, I realize that what I've stated is not as simple as it looks, but, in theory, it might work.
That is very true. I think that it would be difficult to do though. What if the soil isn't fertile. Either way, if it works or if it doesn't work, there is one thing that is still poking you in the side. TIME. Do we even have enough time for a project like this? Is it possible?
Glad I was able to sum that up for you, then!
Thanks!

Litofsky
05-27-2008, 11:02 PM
That is very true. I think that it would be difficult to do though. What if the soil isn't fertile. Either way, if it works or if it doesn't work, there is one thing that is still poking you in the side. TIME. Do we even have enough time for a project like this? Is it possible?

That would be a huge concern. Would it be possible to start a massive food production program, our would Humanity's days be numbered by them? Sounds like the movie Red Planet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Planet_%28film%29).

Achilles
05-27-2008, 11:03 PM
Who says that we have to terraform a planet? Why not create a massive dome, put some plants in it, and bring some water? Creating a tiny ecosystem will allow for much more food to be grown. Of course, I realize that what I've stated is not as simple as it looks, but, in theory, it might work. Previous attempts to achieve this have failed. Perhaps we could get there at some point in the future (especially if properly motivated) :D

Of course, for this to work, we'd have to be near automatons. :pEither that or allow the Japanese to kill everyone else off.

Rev7
05-27-2008, 11:07 PM
That would be a huge concern. Would it be possible to start a massive food production program, our would Humanity's days be numbered by them? Sounds like the movie Red Planet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Planet_%28film%29).
I remember seeing some of that movie...
Previous attempts to achieve this have failed. Perhaps we could get there at some point in the future (especially if properly motivated) :D


That is all too true. :D

Litofsky
05-27-2008, 11:09 PM
Previous attempts to achieve this have failed. Perhaps we could get there at some point in the future (especially if properly motivated) :D

Once more, the question is still "Time." Would we have enough of it in order to preserve our species? Or would we fail miserably, dooming everyone else on this planet? Rather pessimistic thought, all things considered. Although, one must be realistic and optimistic in these situations.

Achilles
05-27-2008, 11:17 PM
all the more reason to get busy on Biosphere 3 I suppose :)

PS: I am member of World Community Grid (software that downloads and processes scientific research when my pc is not "in use"). Previously, I would notice that most of the work was being done on cancer and/or HIV/AIDS. The other day I noticed that all the projects I've been getting lately are "Nutritious Rice for the World". Hmmmm.

Totenkopf
05-27-2008, 11:35 PM
Seems to me we've been hearing these Malthusian cries for awhile. It often looks more like politics is causing starvation than actual lack of food (especially in places like Africa where warlords run amok).

mimartin
05-27-2008, 11:43 PM
This put my being angry over high gas price into perspective. At times, I forget the high price of oil not only has dire consequence on my pocket, but people’s very existence.

The Red Cross budget of 1 billion dollars, small when compared to the U.S. Defense budget of 481.4 billion dollars. Guess it cost a lot more to kill than it does to feed people or our priorities are really messed up.

The first thing that came to me when reading title of the thread was “never bite the hand that feeds you.”


Two words: tofu planet
I have two words for you: No Thanks!

Rev7
05-27-2008, 11:46 PM
Guess it a lot more to kill than it does to feed people or our priorities are really messed up.
Or be killed...

MdKnightR
05-28-2008, 02:04 AM
I'm going to apologize in advance for not reading every post to this thread and just interject my 2 cents. Hunger is not a problem of food production, but a problem of politics. There is plenty of food being produced globally to feed everyone, but transportation costs, corrupt governments, etc. are the causes of hunger in certain areas of the world. Again, just my 2 cents.

mur'phon
05-28-2008, 02:29 AM
^^Another thing to keep in mind is that when education/increased standard of living reduces population growth. There is a reason most of Europe have "negative" birthrates.

Jae Onasi
05-28-2008, 02:45 AM
Two words: tofu planet
No, those two words are "Soylent Green" ;P

Achilles
05-28-2008, 03:01 AM
^^^^
Thread over. Jae wins. :barf: