Time to Grow Something

In response to rising gasoline prices, many Americans have chosen to spend more time at home. In addition to slightly reducing demand for gasoline, it presents an opportunity for that “quality time” so many wealth-seeking experts told us in the last decade would fix our family woes. But other things are keeping us at home too.

Grocery bills are rising, but so are restaurant prices. Food costs are helping Americans to decide to eat at home a little more. Some folks say that might be good for our waistlines, but that’s more of a stupid comment than a solution-oriented discussion.

We’re in trouble.

As oil prices sky-rocket, it is producing a cascading effect into everything else we buy.

Petroleum price increases the costs for transportation, packaging, and processing every consumer good we use–including food. Global food prices are just starting to show the systemic influence of high oil prices. This will affect all the nations.

Even in times of feast for Americans, food shortages are all over the world. Americans have a long history of trying to feed the world out of our charity-mindedness. However as Americans feel the crunch of oil and food based inflation, the shortages around the world will increase. When the crunch hits America hard enough, our charitable givings will slow and maybe decrease, who knows–maybe even stop.

People will starve.

Before they starve, they will seek food using all means available to them. They will riot, loot, kill and even form organized raids into other communities. Some nations will go to war. For food. Then the people will suffer from starvation and war.

America will feel an obligation to do something about the wars. It will take a while before we learn to just watch the other folks around the world kill themselves while we try to balance our budget. Thankfully, we’re not at that point yet.

Some have argued that the solution to the food problem is just to grow more food. Sounds simple enough, but that takes energy. Increased energy demands will drive the price of oil higher, making everything, including food, cost more. We really can’t fix this problem until we fix the energy problem.

Interestingly, one solution is to use a portion of our food supply to make biofuels. Using grain that would normally feed cattle to stretch petroleum reserves causes the price of grain and then of beef to rise. At the same time, transportation and processing costs increase because the cost of oil continues to climb.

Billions or maybe even trillions of barrels of oil lay under a frozen north, hidden in shale, or off the coast of the United States. The American government has rules and laws in place that prevent the harvesting of those energy resources. Well, at least it prevents US oil companies from drilling there. The 36 Cuban oil wells operated by Chinese oil companies as close as 50 miles off the coast of Florida will not extract oil fast enough to stop the starvations that will probably happen within the next few years.

All this sounds a little like a well-meaning man trying to survive the winter in a forest. He doesn’t want to hurt the trees because his teacher told him in the third-grade that trees are people too. So he burns his coat to stay warm for a while. Eventually he faces the winter cold without a coat or a fire. He is then faced with the choice of freezing or growing a brain.

We need to grow a brain.

It just makes sense.

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