Feeding The Fire

Sorry about the silence yesterday; I spent most of the day dealing with Snowmageddon IV, but mainly trying to poke holes in this article. And everywhere I looked, instead of debunking it, I kept finding more evidence backing it.

Now, I’m not calling this a “scheme” or “plot” or “plan,” because I don’t know that this is deliberate. Indeed, I find myself thinking (and hoping) that it isn’t. But so much is going on right now, we need to take it on and head it off — if it isn’t too late.

One of my strengths as a blogger is in spotting patterns and parallels. They’re not always connected, but stringing together themes is something I think I do well. And right now, there’s one scary common thread tying together some very disturbing events.

In Tunisia, riots led to the downfall of the government there. Riots largely motivated by skyrocketing costs of food.

In Egypt, there are riots going on as well. Partly inspired by Tunisia, partly fueled by decades of resentment of Hosni Mubarak and his regime, and partly fueled by rising costs of food.

There are also anti-government riots going on in Yemen, again partly fueled by rising costs of food.

In the United States, inflation — as reported by the federal government — is very low. But the official government metric includes the housing market — which is crashing — and does not cover the costs of food and energy, which are rising.

Part of the reason the costs of food in the United States is going up is that we are using more and more food as fuel — converting corn into ethanol for fuel. This has a few problems — it’s not only very inefficient (it’s only economically feasible because the government subsidizes it heavily), but it can inflict severe damage on engines that burn it. We are literally sending food up in smoke.

When the United States burns food for fuel, there is less to sell to Americans — so the cost of food goes up.

When the United States burns food for fuel, there is less for us to export to other nations, either for sale or to give away — so the cost of food goes up there, too.

The Obama administration is pushing “green” jobs and renewable energy — which is, in and of itself, more expensive than less environmentally friendly but more mature sources like coal, oil, and the like. They have made the conscious choice that absolute expense is less important than environmental impact. Which drives up the overall cost of energy, which in turn drives up the overall cost of food.

As an adjunct to this, they are also doing a great deal to discourage these mature energy sources — shutting down a coal mine, blocking oil exploration and exploitation off our shores, continuing the blocking of using ANWR and other energy fields on shore. Which drives up the cost of energy, which in turn drives up the overall cost of food. Hell, Obama is on record as repeatedly stating that his plans will “necessarily” increase the price of energy.

Back to Egypt. As noted, Egypt is in turmoil right now.  And Egypt is where the Suez Canal is located. The Suez Canal, so important to world commerce that in the 1950s, when Nasser nationalized it, England, France, and Israel invaded Egypt to take control of the Canal. The Canal is absolutely critical to world commerce — a tremendous amount of the world’s oil passes through it, as well as food and other consumer goods. Should the Canal be closed — or even disrupted — the prices of most everything will go up, especially food and energy.

Another key passage for oil is the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean. 20% of the world’s oil passes through the Strait — and the Strait is bounded to the north with Iran’s southern coast. Closing — or even impairing — traffic through the Strait has always been Iran’s biggest threat. Should the Strait be disrupted, the price of energy will be driven up — which will drive up the costs of everything else, including food.

One of the greatest driving factors in economic, technological, social, and every other form of development and advancement is cheap energy. Conversely, increasing the price of energy — and making it overall less accessible — will retard or even stop those advances. Couple that with the current economic slump we’re all suffering, and the consequences could be nothing short of catastrophic.

We desperately need to turn this around. The rising costs of food and energy are wreaking havoc around the world — and a large portion of the cause for those hikes are deliberate and political. We can turn that around in very short order — if we can find the political will.

If we don’t, then we can expect even more Tunisias, more Egypts, more Yemens around the world. We can expect higher costs of fuel, energy, and food at home, and all the consequent harm and havoc that that entails.

If anyone can look at all this and not be incredibly nervous, then they are an idiot.

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