Population, Food Supplies, and the Big Unasked Question

This is a guest post by Dr. Gary Peters, author of the textbook Population Geography.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi on November 23, 2010, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf stated, “The key to long-term food security lies in boosting investment in agriculture, particularly in low-income food-deficit countries.” He also noted, “The rapid increase in hunger and malnourishment since the food crisis of 2008 reveals the inadequacy of the present global food system and the urgent need for structural changes….The food price and economic crises have had a severe impact on millions of people in all parts of the world.”

Undernourished in 2010 by Region according to FAO

Undernourished in 2010 by Region according to FAO's "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2010."

Mr. Diouf’s comments are supported by many, if not most, economists. Continue reading

Is it possible to raise taxes enough to fix the deficit? What does the oil connection say?

In 2008, I said that an energy shortfall was likely to make it more difficult to pay back debt and to fund government promises, such as Social Security. Now there has been a big step down in US oil consumption:

Barrels per oil consumed per capita per year in the US, based on US Energy Information Administration data

Figure 1. US per capita oil consumption in the US dropped dramatically starting in late 2007, according to data of the US Energy Information Administration.

The information we hear about GDP growth would make a person think that the economy is almost sailing along. It seems to me that if we look at the situation closely, per capita spendable income in $2005 dollars has dropped significantly, if one considers oil price changes and related drops in credit availability.  More importantly, a model I developed suggests a serious gap has developed between what the government is now spending and what can reasonably be funded through tax revenue.
Continue reading

Changes Planned to ‘The Oil Drum’

As many readers know, I write for The Oil Drum, a website about Energy and Our Future. The Oil Drum is currently undertaking changes in content and in how the staff are organized. I was not part of the group developing the changes, but I would like to offer my second-hand perspective. Let me start first with two things that I see as impetus for change: (1) Changing External Situation and (2) Internal Organizational Issues.

Changing External Situation

One of the issues that seems to be driving the change is the fact that the peak oil in conventional oil production is more and more in the rear view mirror. Continue reading