I’ve been trying to explain in previous articles (most recently last Monday) just how bad the world food situation has become. However, it seems a lot of people just don’t get it. I get e-mails and comments from readers complaining that I’m being unduly alarmist, even when I link to sources for my facts. They complain about local shortages, but have no idea why they exist – or that local shortages are, in fact, a symptom of a much larger problem, one that is already producing food riots in several countries.
Let me be as blunt as possible. We’re probably going to see a massive breakdown of stability, law and order around the world, all because of a shortage of food and its increased cost. That may even include parts of the United States. We can no longer avoid it; only brace for impact. It really is that bad.
Let’s briefly look at the damage to food production and distribution caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. Supermarkets were swamped with demand, because people were forced to quarantine at home, and could no longer patronize restaurants, fast-food outlets and the like. The supermarket supply chain was so overloaded it could not keep pace; and the distributors sending goods into that chain ran out of supplies. They turned to food processors, but they couldn’t help, because their production was geared to normal consumption patterns, not the radically changed ones of the pandemic. The food processors, in turn, were hit by COVID-19 absenteeism among their workforces and other restrictions, as well as the loss of almost the entire restaurant and fast-food market (a completely different production line, with different demands, processes and distribution networks). They had to tell farmers that they couldn’t buy their crops, because either there wasn’t enough demand for them, or they couldn’t process them; so fields were plowed under, milk was poured out on the ground, eggs were smashed by the hundreds of thousands, etc. Domestic food production staggered under the blow, and still has not fully recovered. Neither have supply pipelines, still clogged by the backlog caused by COVID-19.
Added to that, the price of natural gas and other fossil fuels skyrocketed due to a number of factors (not least being regulatory restrictions on fossil fuels by dementedly “green” national governments, including the Biden administration). Natural gas is a vital feedstock for the production of ammonia and urea fertilizers; but costs rose so much that many producers simply shut down, because they couldn’t afford them (or, more accurately, their customers could not afford to pay the resultant greatly increased price for nitrate fertilizer). Disruptions caused by war (to exports from Russia and Belarus, the world’s second- and third-largest producers of potash) and national priorities (e.g. China, the world’s biggest producer of phosphate fertilizer, has banned its export so as to secure its own needs) added fuel to the fire, and made it worse. Overall, fertilizer availability has dropped drastically and prices have increased three- to fivefold around the world, leading many farmers to selectively cut back on how much they’re using, or switch to crops requiring less of it. That in turn means food production is dropping worldwide, sometimes to critical levels. Therefore, nations relying on importing food from elsewhere may no longer be able to get what they need, because not enough is available – or they’re being outbid for it by richer countries.
Finally, the international shipping market, essential to move products from one country to another, is still swamped by the supply chain backlog around the world. It’s so bad that even some bulk cargo vessels, usually carrying grain or the like between countries, have been repurposed as makeshift container carriers, thus removing them from the bulk market altogether in the short to medium term. At a time when nations all over the world are scrambling to buy food from elsewhere, they can’t get enough ships to carry it from its source to nearby ports; and, even if they can get the ships, the railway lines that would carry the food from the ports to where it’s needed are already overloaded and clogged with other freight. It’s a total mess.
All these factors, allied to other economic problems largely caused by the pandemic and its international consequences, are already causing social hardship and protests in several countries. Consider these recent headlines:
- Protests as Sri Lanka Runs out of Fuel, Food, Medicine
- Peru Announces Tax Cuts on Food and Fuel as Protests Intensify
- German consumers to be hit by further price hikes in supermarkets
- War in Ukraine could lead to food riots in poor countries, warns WTO boss
- War in Ukraine pushes Middle East and North Africa deeper into hunger as food prices reach alarming highs
Those are just a few current reports. There will be more, involving more countries. That’s now unavoidable.
I’ve seen this before, in many parts of Africa over many years. I know exactly how hard life is going to get for millions upon millions of people in the Third World . . . and, as a result, all who can are going to try to move elsewhere to escape it. You think Europe and North America have an illegal alien problem now? That’s nothing compared to what’s coming. When people get desperate enough, they’ll move heaven and earth to get to wherever they think they can live a better life, whether or not that place wants them or is willing to take them in. We’re talking a tidal wave of illegal invasion here.
As Michael Yon (who’s also “been there and done that”, and has seen the same things I’ve seen in the Third World) pointed out a few days ago:
The Four Horsemen are real. Not mythical. Pestilence, War, Famine, Death.
The First Horseman is Pestilence. This time was a manufactured pandemic. Famine, the Third Horseman, was set into motion by the First Horseman.
Second Horseman is War. Russia’s attack on Ukraine creates perfect storm conditions for Third Horseman.
Third Horseman is Famine. These famines will be massive. Hundreds of millions may die. Maybe more.
The Fourth Horseman is Death.
These old “myths” are not myths at all. They are literary, storytelling descriptions of reality. These “myths” live thousands of years because they are true patterns. The idea of the Four Horsemen survives because this distilled human truth is the essence of knowledge. And that is wisdom from our elders. These stories were told by the witnesses who survived.
Those who study these “myths” have a far higher chance of being the storytellers who pass them along — amplified.
The only thing missing is a mouse plague. Which Australia appears to be working on.
On the scale of things, Ukraine is a barroom brawl. The Third Horseman will gallop across Africa, China, Europe and more.
Feel the hoofbeats underfoot.
He continued yesterday:
PanFaWar is Pandemic, Famine, War: Three Musketeers of Disaster. All for One, One for All.
The three elements are recursive. Famine swirls straight back to pandemic. Famine creates a population with “AIDS” due to malnutrition, and other factors such as bad hygiene and migrations. (Great migrations can also lead to pandemic.)
So Pandemic leads to Famine, Famine loops back to Pandemic.
These three elements are recursive inputs. All three lead to Migrations: PanFaWar + Migration.
Due to PanFaWar, we are about to see the most epic migrations ever seen. The migrations will add to PanFaWar — until the fuel is spent and a new equilibrium is reached.
When this is over, the world will look very different.
The current food shortage is rapidly developing into actual famine on an international scale. World food production is likely to drop by at least a third over the next two years or so. Our current world population cannot be sustained at that level of production. It’s going to mean a catastrophic drop in food availability and consumption in every country that can’t afford the much higher prices that will be charged for the limited food supply. Famine, starvation and massive unrest are guaranteed to result. This is not optional. It’s already happening in several countries, and it’s going to spread and get worse. You can take that to the bank.
What does it mean for the United States? I think our food shortages are going to be more local than national. We produce enough food (and can import additional food, fertilizer, etc. from Canada) that North America is likely to be able to feed itself, albeit at much higher prices and with a greatly reduced selection of goods. The problem will be when poorer people can’t afford to buy food. They’re going to demand more in welfare and support payments; and if the money isn’t there, they’re going to riot. I won’t be surprised to see an upsurge in urban unrest and greatly increased crime in many of our larger cities, particularly because their governments are almost uniformly ineffectual, corrupt and incompetent. They’ll point fingers at “the rich” or “racists” or “hoarders”, and do anything to put the blame on others – which will merely inflame the rioters to greater efforts against those they see as responsible for their plight. If you live in or near such a city, and your skin is the wrong color, or your suburb is “nicer” and “richer” than inner-city ghettoes, expect problems. That’s putting it mildly.
As for the inner-city areas themselves, food deserts are likely to become more widespread. It happened after the BLM riots in 2020 (for example, in Chicago and Minneapolis), and it’ll happen again. Every time a store is looted by hungry, angry locals, the owners of that store will ask themselves, “Why should we rebuild? Why should we restock it, when we know it’ll just be stripped clean again?” They’re increasingly likely to cut their losses and abandon the store. If – when – enough of them do that, the neighborhood will be left with no local sources from which to buy food; so they’ll have to go elsewhere, possibly including your neighborhood, to get what they need. They’ll bring with them the attitudes – and, possibly, the actions – that created their food desert in the first place. Brace yourselves, friends.
The police may want to restore law and order, but they’re likely to be hampered by criminal-friendly district attorneys (see current events in Los Angeles and New York for just two examples) and politically correct city administrations (for example, Seattle). If any of us try to protect our families, homes and supplies from such intrusions, we’re likely to be painted as aggressors, racists or even domestic terrorists. That won’t be true, but truth doesn’t matter to radical community organizers and pressure groups. Things are likely to get very sporty indeed.
Adding to the problem will be an immense upsurge in illegal aliens crossing our border in a desperate search for sustenance and employment. One can’t blame them – if we were among them, we’d almost certainly be doing the same thing – but it’s a huge security threat to our society. We’re talking millions of unwanted people every year. They’ll break the law to get here, which means they’ll probably go on breaking the law to get what they want and/or need – to the detriment of law-abiding citizens.
I think we’ll have enough food on a national scale to make it; but we’re going to experience all sorts of regional and local shortages, unpredictable as to timing and duration, as governments try to control food supplies (and, by doing so, make things worse, as governments invariably do). That may include extended shortages of items we consider important or even essential. If you have special dietary needs (e.g. gluten or lactose intolerance, vegetarian diet, etc.) you should already be stocking up on essentials, looking for alternatives (e.g. frozen, dried and canned food instead of fresh), and planning how you’re going to work around shortages when they arise – as they certainly will.
Also, don’t be sure you’ll still have a job if things get really bad. The economy as a whole will suffer, and small businesses in particular are likely to be hard hit. Job security will be distinctly “iffy”. The income on which you rely to buy food may not be there; so use it while you can, to stock up on essentials, just in case.
Friends, I don’t know what more I can say to convince you of the seriousness of the problem. It’s not just our local supermarkets. It’s worldwide, and involves far more than just food, and it’s getting worse by the day.
Brace yourselves, and prepare as best you can.