• Before this is going to get closed again: there is nothing wrong with talking about prices: it’s ECONOMICS not politics. As for the reasons why food prices are so high:
    1. Bigger demand for food from China, India, Brazil  and other fastly developing countries
    2. Speculation
    3. Bad crops/harvest (don’t know what the exact term is in English)
    4. High oil prices
    5. As Jen said, growing use of fertile ground for organic fuel production instead of food production
    6. Bigger demand for meat from China, India, Brazil and other fastly developing countries (1 kg of meat needs an equivalent of 5 kg of corn)
    7. The refusal of the EU to utilize genetically modified organisms

    And if you look on Wikipedia, you’ll find some more I guess 😉

    As for the oil prices:
    1. Bigger demand from China, India, Brazil and other fastly developing countries
    2. Awareness of the fact that oil is finite (we use more oil nowadays than we find new oil on this planet, and the new oil is far more difficult to utilize)
    3. Speculation
    4. Most oil comes from unstable countries, which isn’t good for a steady supply, which isn’t good for a stable/low price

    As to why organic fuels are not that bad:
    1. They make a country less dependent on foreign (often unstable) countries/policies for its energy demand
    2. It’s a bit better for the environment to use organic fuels instead of fossil fuels

    Again, Wikipedia is the key 😉

    There’s seldomly only one explanation as to why things are this way or that way. Don’t only blame organic fuels for high food prices. The moment people decided organic fuels were a good idea, it actually WAS a good idea, see the reasons above. Organic fuels on their own wouldn’t have lifted prices this much. If all those other things didn’t happen at about the same time as the growing production of organic fuels, the food prices would have barely moved, and organic fuels would have been an answer to some problems facing some countries today. Unfortunately, those things did happen, and a new problem was presented, which requires the opposite (producing more food, and thus less organic fuels).

    In the long run however, the only solution (with 6*10^9 + people on this limited planet) is eating less meat and consuming less oil/energy. Higher prices for these products are one way of accomplishing this…


  • 2. It’s a bit better for the environment to use organic fuels instead of fossil fuels

    As far as I know the net gain for regrowable fuel is 0 or below.

    • cutting down of forests, in order to have more land for fuelproduction (Brazil)
    • all the “evil chemicals” used to increase/ secure the harvest
    • great amounts of energy needed to actually convert the plants into ethanol

  • one oil expert said recently that real price of todays oil should be 50-60 USD

    and the prices are above 120 USD

    some say, much speculations are there and the big oil companies dont care for economies, people, they just wont ˝their˝ money.

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    And bio-fuel has not been proved to be any better for the environment in regards to CO2.  However, it has been shown to cause significantly more damage to the environment in other chemicals and compounds as well as being extremely unstable (which is why it has to be trucked, not piped like regular fuel.)

    And the price of oil is all speculation.  People “think” the market is bad because the media’s been telling us the market is “bad” for the past decade.  As soon as people realize they were lied too, oil prices (and gold and all the other commodities which are currently insanely too high in value to be supported) will plummet in a Commodity Bubble Burst.

    Neither has, or should have, anything to do with politics.  Both have everything to do with the media conglomerates creating yellow journalism to bolster sales to increase profit just like they did during the Spanish American War and other times in World History.  Remember, the media is in the business of making the news!  If there is no news, there is no media!!!  (The same can be said about commentators, disc jockeys, clowns, etc.  All out to make a profit.)

    I say we’ll see a significant commodity bubble burst in 2009-2010.  By significant I’m talking a “correction” market of 20% drop on the top end, up to about a “bear” market of 30-40%.


  • agree with Jen

    this whole ˝foodtobiofuelswitch˝ is stupid

    but, personally i see a link between the two issues( food and oil), and not just some marginal one.

    and its all at least partialy connected to politics.


  • Even if oil were priced in non-dollars, it would be expensive, for some of the reasons already listed:
    1. Demand for light sweet crude soon to outpace supply, and not enough new fields to satisfy future demand. That’s why speculators are driving up the price somewhat- they can see the writing on the wall.
    2. Instability in countries where cheap crude is found.

    As China and India continue to modernize, OPEC will have their hands full just meeting world demand. There’s only so much easily pumped crude in the ground, and we’ve probably reached peak oil and are on the downward slope.

    That’s not to say we’ll run out of oil. Canada has billions of barrells in its tar-sands, and the U.S. has over a trillion in shale rock. But getting oil out of tar sand or shale is energy intensive, expsneive, and hell on the environment (60 gallons of cruse for every TON of shale rock). The days of cheap oil are over, but maybe thats a good thing. America was an oil EXPORTER up until the 60’s. If we innovate and find ways to get oil out of shale more efficiently, we can become an exporter again, which would give us HUGE leverage over China.

    But that’s not going to happen if we artificially manipulate gas prices just to keep American consumers happy.


  • @Cmdr:

    And bio-fuel has not been proved to be any better for the environment in regards to CO2.  However, it has been shown to cause significantly more damage to the environment in other chemicals and compounds as well as being extremely unstable (which is why it has to be trucked, not piped like regular fuel.)

    I have no idea on your claim of trucking.  Or the more damage part.  What would that be exactly?

    And the price of oil is all speculation.  People “think” the market is bad because the media’s been telling us the market is “bad” for the past decade.  As soon as people realize they were lied too, oil prices (and gold and all the other commodities which are currently insanely too high in value to be supported) will plummet in a Commodity Bubble Burst.

    Uh…you are blaming prices on the media?  Seriously? People complain about the price of oil, not the market, which is doing very well for itself.

    Neither has, or should have, anything to do with politics.  Both have everything to do with the media conglomerates creating yellow journalism to bolster sales to increase profit just like they did during the Spanish American War and other times in World History.  Remember, the media is in the business of making the news!  If there is no news, there is no media!!!  (The same can be said about commentators, disc jockeys, clowns, etc.  All out to make a profit.)

    Wow.  And how exactly does the media benefit from your conspiracy? And prices of food and oil have EVERYTHING to do with politics.

    @Amon:

    but, personally i see a link between the two issues( food and oil), and not just some marginal one.

    In the US, food prices are increasing for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that hardly anyone eats locally.  As gas prices go up, so do the costs of shipping your food.


  • @Jermofoot:

    @Cmdr:

    And bio-fuel has not been proved to be any better for the environment in regards to CO2.  However, it has been shown to cause significantly more damage to the environment in other chemicals and compounds as well as being extremely unstable (which is why it has to be trucked, not piped like regular fuel.)

    I have no idea on your claim of trucking.  Or the more damage part.  What would that be exactly?

    And the price of oil is all speculation.  People “think” the market is bad because the media’s been telling us the market is “bad” for the past decade.  As soon as people realize they were lied too, oil prices (and gold and all the other commodities which are currently insanely too high in value to be supported) will plummet in a Commodity Bubble Burst.

    Uh…you are blaming prices on the media?  Seriously? People complain about the price of oil, not the market, which is doing very well for itself.

    Neither has, or should have, anything to do with politics.  Both have everything to do with the media conglomerates creating yellow journalism to bolster sales to increase profit just like they did during the Spanish American War and other times in World History.  Remember, the media is in the business of making the news!  If there is no news, there is no media!!!  (The same can be said about commentators, disc jockeys, clowns, etc.  All out to make a profit.)

    Wow.  And how exactly does the media benefit from your conspiracy? And prices of food and oil have EVERYTHING to do with politics.

    @Amon:

    but, personally i see a link between the two issues( food and oil), and not just some marginal one.

    In the US, food prices are increasing for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that hardly anyone eats locally.  As gas prices go up, so do the costs of shipping your food.

    Jermo, I don’t think your chart takes into account the energy costs that go into creating/extracting biofuels/oils. The energy needed to grow and harvest an acre of corn for biofuel use is going to be much greater than the energy needed to extract a like number of barells of  crude. In some places in the Middle East, it literally bubbles to the surface.

    That being said, we need to be develping technology that efficiently makes use of the lleftovers of crops (corn husks, etc.)


  • “biofuels made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on degraded and abandoned agricultural lands planted with perennials incur little or no carbon debt and can offer immediate and sustained GHG advantages”
    -University of Minnesota

    Ofcourse, burning down forests is not a good idea, but produced well, biofuels are good for the environment. (unfortunately, the “produced well” part is a bit tricky :roll: )

    On the chart below: I think it does take into account the energy costs that go into creating/extracting biofuels/oils. What else would it take into account? Not the net production of CO2 from burning the biofuel, because that is 0. (Owkey, quick explanation: CO2 in air = bad, CO2 in soil = good. Plants take CO2 from air and put them in soil = good. Burning fuels takes CO2 from soil and puts them in air = bad. Fossil fuels do only the latter = bad. Biofuels do both = good + bad = 0. )
    But I do think the data doesn’t take into account burned forests unfortunately, nor the impact of other chemical elements (also generated by producing regular food) 😞

    @Cmdr:

    And the price of oil is all speculation.  People “think” the market is bad because the media’s been telling us the market is “bad” for the past decade.  As soon as people realize they were lied too, oil prices (and gold and all the other commodities which are currently insanely too high in value to be supported) will plummet in a Commodity Bubble Burst.

    I say we’ll see a significant commodity bubble burst in 2009-2010.   By significant I’m talking a “correction” market of 20% drop on the top end, up to about a “bear” market of 30-40%.

    note: this is quite a lengthy post, summary in the last alinea…

    There’s a difference between gold and oil: we need oil, but we don’t need gold (we just like to have it). Imagine tomorrow it would become clear our stocks of food (=product we need) is limited: there won’t be more food EVER. What would happen with the food prices, though there’s enough food to satisfy demands for 40 years? Would they stay the same for about 39 years and then rise insanely, causing wars etc? Or would they, since everyone knows for sure the food will be gone in 40 years, start raising today? (et en plus those other factors mentioned: rapidly growing demand in other countries, food starting to get more difficult to produce…) (note to reader: this is going about oil, not food, because the two things are a bit mixed up in this thread)

    And you blame the media, like the american media has anything to do with oil prices in Russia, Iran or the Emirates…

    It is true the media can make people believe things that aren’t true, but it has zip influence on the oil market, because people have zip influence on the oil market. The oil market is governed by companies and governments, not consumers. Consumers have to follow the price being given, because they need the oil!

    Imagine you’re an oil company. Why would you lower your prices? If you do, everyone will buy your oil, your fields will be depleted in no time, and sure, you’re gonna be rich. But you could have been even richer if you just sold all your oil at the same price as the rest of the world. There’s no worry the oil will grow bad or won’t be bought in the near future, so why lower prices? And there’s no way of producing more, so no other company can flood the market with cheap oil without benefitting you in the long run (there will be less oil for the future, so you can make even more profit then).
    If I had the capacity to store a lot of oil for a lot of years, I would immediately do it. The only thing that’s keeping oil prices in check for the moment are alternatives like solar energy or hydrogen fuel, but those are no real competitors to oil in the near future, and it’s not sure in 40 years those techniques will be adequately developed to replace oil. And since those alternatives are no real competitors yet and since it’s not sure they will be on time, the “keeping in check”-part is not that great, as reflected in the oil prices…

    Summary: Oil is our only option for the moment, and whatever the price wil be, we will pay it because we need it. This together with the fact that the oil is limited and there are no real alternatives for oil, makes me believe oil companies have no reason to lower the prices significantly in the next few years. As you can see, I don’t believe the media has anything to do with high oil prices.

    PS (oil price estimated in €, because the weak $ is making things worse for you guys at the moment)

  • '18 '17 '16 '11 Moderator

    @Smacktard:

    @Jermofoot:

    @Cmdr:

    And bio-fuel has not been proved to be any better for the environment in regards to CO2.  However, it has been shown to cause significantly more damage to the environment in other chemicals and compounds as well as being extremely unstable (which is why it has to be trucked, not piped like regular fuel.)

    I have no idea on your claim of trucking.  Or the more damage part.  What would that be exactly?

    And the price of oil is all speculation.  People “think” the market is bad because the media’s been telling us the market is “bad” for the past decade.  As soon as people realize they were lied too, oil prices (and gold and all the other commodities which are currently insanely too high in value to be supported) will plummet in a Commodity Bubble Burst.

    Uh…you are blaming prices on the media?  Seriously? People complain about the price of oil, not the market, which is doing very well for itself.

    Neither has, or should have, anything to do with politics.  Both have everything to do with the media conglomerates creating yellow journalism to bolster sales to increase profit just like they did during the Spanish American War and other times in World History.  Remember, the media is in the business of making the news!  If there is no news, there is no media!!!  (The same can be said about commentators, disc jockeys, clowns, etc.  All out to make a profit.)

    Wow.  And how exactly does the media benefit from your conspiracy? And prices of food and oil have EVERYTHING to do with politics.

    @Amon:

    but, personally i see a link between the two issues( food and oil), and not just some marginal one.

    In the US, food prices are increasing for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that hardly anyone eats locally.  As gas prices go up, so do the costs of shipping your food.

    Jermo, I don’t think your chart takes into account the energy costs that go into creating/extracting biofuels/oils. The energy needed to grow and harvest an acre of corn for biofuel use is going to be much greater than the energy needed to extract a like number of barells of  crude. In some places in the Middle East, it literally bubbles to the surface.

    That being said, we need to be develping technology that efficiently makes use of the lleftovers of crops (corn husks, etc.)

    I know it does not take into account the growing of the material, the harvesting of the material, the shipping of the material, the processing of the material, the shipping of the refined material and the storage of the refined material.  That chart ONLY looks at the waste products of the material after it is burned.

    Biofuels cannot be shipped in pipes.  It is highly unstable, that means you have to truck it.  Since you are using trucks to ship the material, you are creating MORE pollution.  The refinement process itself barely creates more energy producing the material than you get from the material.  The refinement process itself also produces large quantities of ozone and shoots a lot of vegetable matter particulates into the atmosphere.

    All in all, biofuels are doing more to damage the world’s ecosystem than any other form of fuel.  In fact, it is doing more damage than atomic and nuclear weapons have done throughout history, and I include Chernobyl the nuclear plant that melted down in Russia.  (Scientists are amazed at how well nature recovered in these areas and how fast, filmatleven.)

    Anyway, every point I’ve raised is common knowledge.  If you want to check on it, a cursory check should pull up the relevant data.  I recommend using real periodicals and not blogs.  DISCOVER Magazine is good, Popular Science as well, Consumer Reports just had a huge article on this as well in conjunction with the new mileage standards on hybrids and why their mileage ratings dropped between 10-30% into more realistic numbers. (The focus of that article was more on the damage caused to the environment by producing the batteries, but they also covered why pure ethanol gas stations and other biofuel stations are not found on every street corner.)

    Try to avoid sites sponsored or supported by The Seirra Club.  It’s a propaganda machine and they have an agenda which is to scare us into buying into these off the wall ideas which they sell to the politicians who in turn send contracts their way to buy them.  In other words, they are in the business of environment “enhancement.”


  • That chart ONLY looks at the waste products of the material after it is burned.

    Which is where the majority of pollution comes from.

    Since you are using trucks to ship the material, you are creating MORE pollution.

    Here you are telling us using trucks creates more pollution…. no kidding…  :roll: … Like that’s going to stop people from transporting any other kind of goods using trucks.

    All in all, biofuels are doing more to damage the world’s ecosystem than any other form of fuel.  In fact, it is doing more damage than atomic and nuclear weapons have done throughout history, and I include Chernobyl the nuclear plant that melted down in Russia.  (Scientists are amazed at how well nature recovered in these areas and how fast, filmatleven.)

    Go take a walk and have some lunch in Chernobyl then.

    Anyway, every point I’ve raised is common knowledge.  If you want to check on it, a cursory check should pull up the relevant data.  I recommend using real periodicals and not blogs.  DISCOVER Magazine is good, Popular Science as well, Consumer Reports just had a huge article on this as well in conjunction with the new mileage standards on hybrids and why their mileage ratings dropped between 10-30% into more realistic numbers. (The focus of that article was more on the damage caused to the environment by producing the batteries, but they also covered why pure ethanol gas stations and other biofuel stations are not found on every street corner.)

    Magazines…. isn’t that another medium of media? I thought you say the media lies. Or is it only the media that says something you may not like to hear?
    Speaking of which, who needs the media when everyone in the streets is talking about the continuous soaring costs of food and gas. I haven’t watched the news in weeks. Don’t need to when I can see the numbers on the cash register with my own eyes.

    Try to avoid sites sponsored or supported by The Seirra Club.  It’s a propaganda machine and they have an agenda which is to scare us into buying into these off the wall ideas which they sell to the politicians who in turn send contracts their way to buy them.  In other words, they are in the business of environment “enhancement.”

    Probably a good idea to avoid buying into opinions on forums also. They have their own method of propaganda as well.  😉

    HolKann, you paint a more believable picture


  • @stuka:

    That chart ONLY looks at the waste products of the material after it is burned.

    Which is where the majority of pollution comes from.

    Not in the case of current biofuels. How much energy do you really think an oil derrick uses? But in the case of biofuels, there is a massive energy investment: preparing the soil, irrigation and maintenance of the crop, harvesting, and then turning the corn into something you can refine. For the time and energy needed to grow one acre of corn, that oil derrick is just pumping away, drawing thousands of barrels of oil out of the ground.

    There’s no doubt that current biofuels are more pollutive, even if the fuel itself is LESS pollutive, because WE have to make the biofuels. In the case of oil, nature’s already done the dirty work for us, over millions of years. All we need to do is get it out of the ground, which is ridiculously easy to do in the Middle East.

    Even though the current policy is a failure, theres a chance it might lead to an innovation in next-generation biofuels, which would extract oil from food crop leftovers.

    In fact, it is doing more damage than atomic and nuclear weapons have done throughout history, and I include Chernobyl the nuclear plant that melted down in Russia.  (Scientists are amazed at how well nature recovered in these areas and how fast, filmatleven.)

    :roll: Someone was hitting the Vodka when they typed that.

    Consumer Reports just had a huge article on this as well in conjunction with the new mileage standards on hybrids and why their mileage ratings dropped between 10-30% into more realistic numbers. (The focus of that article was more on the damage caused to the environment by producing the batteries, but they also covered why pure ethanol gas stations and other biofuel stations are not found on every street corner.)

    I have a subsription to CR and I didn’t see anything like this, nor would I expect to. CR is an indepedently run ratings agency for consumers. You go there to find out what kind of flat screen to buy or how sucky Kias still are, not whether biofuels are cost-effective or energy efficient.

    Try to avoid sites sponsored or supported by The Seirra Club.  It’s a propaganda machine and they have an agenda which is to scare us into buying into these off the wall ideas which they sell to the politicians who in turn send contracts their way to buy them.  In other words, they are in the business of environment “enhancement.”

    There are plenty of online reputable sources to make a point with. If you can’t find any, the point you’re making is probably no good.


  • Err, do you guys get how biofuels work? The only pollution coming out of them is by producing them, not using them. If it would cost us nothing to produce, it would be the ultimate recoverable energy source (except for the “less room for food”-part). CO2 isn’t produced by burning biofuels. As it isn’t “produced” by burning fossile fuels. This seems counter-intuitive, but let me explain it:

    -warning long post without summary, but I did my best to keep it readable-

    An easy-to-use form of energy is fuels (either fossile or bio). These fuels are carbohydrates, connections of carbon and hydrogen (C and H). These are the connections, when burned with oxygen (O2), that supply us with energy, resulting in carbo-oxydes (dunnow the right English word) (like CO2) and hydro-oxydes (like water: H2O).

    How did these fuels develop? Both fossile and bio developed the same way: Plants take CO2 from the air, H2O from the ground and energy from the sun’s light. They combine these elements to form the C and H connections we use. As you can see, the circle is round: CO2 is removed from air by growing plants, CO2 gets back to air by humanity burning plants. (Solar) Energy is captured by plants, energy is used by humanity. And as everyone knows, both fossile and biofuels are made of plants.

    So burning both fossile and bio fuels is like putting CO2 back where it belongs: in the air, ready for new plants to grow. Why is burning fossile (bio: see later) fuels bad for our environment then? Because it has to do with the time-scale: all the CO2 in fossile fuels is gathered over millions of years, and didn’t get back in the atmosphere. The atmosphere found a balance of it’s own, not needing the CO2 from all these plants. Now we are burning all these plants (under the form of oil), and putting this incredible amount of CO2 back in the atmosphere, with global warming as a result. Which ofcourse is bad  😞

    Why is burning biofuels not bad (in theory)? Because it takes the CO2 we have in our atmosphere TODAY (as opposed to fossile fuels containing CO2 from millions of years ago) to grow these fuels. So all of the CO2 produced by burning biofuels, was removed from our atmosphere whilst growing biofuels. So the net gain of CO2 in our atmosphere by growing and burning biofuels is 0 seen on a timescale of a couple of months! It doesn’t matter how much CO2 biofuels produce when burned, because that’s also the amount they took from the atmosphere whilst being produced some months before. Which clearly is not bad  🙂

    This is why some years ago governments started supporting biofuels: it is better for the environment when done right. Nowadays, problems have become clear: extra high food prices, burning of rainforests to make way for biofuelcrops, too much energy invested in growing the biofuelcrops, extra chemicals needed to grow the crops etc. Nonetheless, there are ways to make good use of biofuels bypassing most of these problems, so don’t give biofuels the bad name it doesn’t deserve. But as with all things, theory is only the first step towards reality…

    @Smacktard:

    There’s no doubt that current biofuels are more pollutive, even if the fuel itself is LESS pollutive, because WE have to make the biofuels. In the case of oil, nature’s already done the dirty work for us, over millions of years. All we need to do is get it out of the ground, which is ridiculously easy to do in the Middle East.

    I’m sorry, but current biofuels are less pollutive (in terms of CO2) when done right (this is when grown in places with enough sun/water/…, where no forests needed to be burned down, and when the resulting fuels aren’t transported to the other end of the world. Unfortunately, these are also the ideal circumstances to grow food…).


  • Well I think the whole CO2-thing is overestimated. People are telling us how the weather will be like in 50 years, if we continue to burn fossile fuels. Those actually are the same people who tell us how the weather will be like in three days, and get it wrong every other day. So with the best and most modern methods available today it’s not really possible to generate a reliable weather forecast for one week. Period. They do have the best scientists and the hugest calculating power available over there in Japan for predicting the course of typhoons. 72 hours before it hits, they can only tell you it will be “somewhere between the Philippines and Taiwan”. The problem is that those calculations cannot be exact at the moment, because there are huge influences on weather and climate which we simply do not know or just start to understand.

    It’s not that I say that it doesn’t matter if we release all the CO2 absorbed within millions of years within a very short period of time. It will have an effect, that’s for sure. But I say that we do not know what the effect will be. At the moment there is a trend towards warmer climate, but it is far from sure that the main cause for that is CO2-emissions. After all, it has been much warmer back in the middle ages, where the good Scottish (!) wine was famous and olives grew in southern Germany. The Vikings were choosing the names “Greenland” and “Vinland” (Labrador, “Wine-Land”) for a reason. And all that without CO2.

    The rest comes down to costs. How much money is spent to prevent CO2-emissions - where the results are doubtful - and how much could be done to further other causes and where you would get good results for sure? And even if the CO2-emissions are the real big reason for global warming? How much would it cost to cut down CO2-emissions to prevent it, and how much would it cost to mitigate the negative effects of say +2° in climate. And don’t forget, that there would be huge benefits too. Millions of square kilometers additional arable land in Canada and Russia to feed the growing demands of a wealthier population? More freshwater available around the world? I do not know, if such calculations have ever been made, but I think it should be done before spending trillions in money and reduced standard of living with doubtful results.

    As for the prices of oil and food:

    Speculation can be an additional reason for the high prices but it’s not really the main problem. Most of the so-called “speculations” are futures traded by shipping companies, airlines, chemical plants and so on. The just want to make sure now they will get their fuel or oil later at a certain price so that they can calculate their costs and make their offers accordingly. Flights for the summer holidays are booked in late winter, and people want to know how much it costs. So the airline has to know the price then. Simple as that. And this kind of speculation has always been around, so it’s nothing new.

    It seems the phenomenon of high oil prices will last. You have to fuel the huge worldwide economic growth in the last years somehow. And oil has not really gotten so expensive if you compare it to other commodities like copper, nickel, cobalt, tungsten, etc.

    The problem with food is the low investment into agriculture during the last decades. Because the USA and Europe have always had a surplus of food, they even spent lots of money (in Europe, not so sure about USA) to reduce agricultural production to keep the prices high. Investment in agricultural sciences has been very low too, and many countries even banned some of the more promising venues. And since the surplus production of Europe and the USA was cheap to buy on the international markets, there have not been very huge incentives for other countries too to invest in their own agricultural sector. This incentives are here now, but it will take a year or two until the investments in the agricultural sector pay off.

    So concerning food prices, this year they can well rise a bit more, but I think they will come down again in a year or two.

    So all said here is purely speculative of course. I do not know much about world markets, just making up a few things with the limited information I have. Reading this post in a year or two will be fun, I think.


  • Another problem concerning food prices could be organic food.

    Imagine an island with 1000 people and 100 “units” of arable land. With “conventional” agricultural methods, they they are producing enough food to feed the 1000 people on this area. Then, 30 % of the farmers switch to organic production, harvesting only 50 % of the amount before. Of course the organic food is more expensive, but there are rich people on the island, who pay for that. In effect you lose the production of 15 “units” of land, which means there is only food for 850 people total available. So also the price of the conventional food rises.

    There are only three alternatives

    • improve the “conventional” agricultural methods (introduce genetically modified agriculture for example) to raise production on the land available
    • cut down forests to gain 15 units of arable land
    • quit organic agriculture

    • eat less meat
    • improve organic agriculture

    Owkey, your posts seem quite reasonable, but I’m pro organic 😄 So I also doubt whether it produces only 50% of the conventional agriculture, and I’d like to point out the environment-friendlyness, eliminating the need to burn down forests because conventional agriculture poverished the land. I believe the ideal of mass organic production is reachable.

    As for the benefits of global warming: I know they exist, but I also know that humanity has adapted to this climate, and that a rise of the sea-level with only a few metres would cause 1/2 of the population to find an new home. I do agree we aren’t sure why this is happening, but our best bet is CO2. And the problem is: most of the countries that are going to have a badder (err, as in less good) climate don’t have the means or the political stability to adapt to a situation the richer countries probably created (I don’t think that a lot of subsaharan guys have got as much influence on the world’s climate as a lot of supermexican guys).

    Also, predicting the exact weather the next couple of weeks is MUCH more difficult than predicting the average temperature of a region for the next year. For the first one, you have too many variables influencing things, for the last one, you just look at the average of the last x years and know it will be about the same. The problem is, that average is rising…

    @Complex:

    The problem with food is the low investment into agriculture during the last decades. Because the USA and Europe have always had a surplus of food, they even spent lots of money (in Europe, not so sure about USA) to reduce agricultural production to keep the prices high.

    No, a bit wrong, in Europe it’s the other way around. After the war, Europe’s countries decided they should be self-sufficient, they didn’t want to rely on foreign policies for their most basic need: food. That’s why the governments started sponsoring agriculture, leading to the cheap surplus they have today. It’s not investing to keep the prices high, but investing to keep the prices low. Hell, they even exported to Africa, and the prices of European food were lower there than the price of food produced by the local farmer, who as a result couldn’t climb out of the pit colonialism had left because he couldn’t sell his food to his subsaharan palls. Shuck, now I’ve really dragged everything into this. Just note that Europe should stop sponsoring it’s agriculture (especially France, ces imbécils!).


  • @HolKann:

    Err, do you guys get how biofuels work? The only pollution coming out of them is by producing them, not using them. If it would cost us nothing to produce, it would be the ultimate recoverable energy source (except for the “less room for food”-part). CO2 isn’t produced by burning biofuels. As it isn’t “produced” by burning fossile fuels. This seems counter-intuitive, but let me explain it:

    -warning long post without summary, but I did my best to keep it readable-

    An easy-to-use form of energy is fuels (either fossile or bio). These fuels are carbohydrates, connections of carbon and hydrogen (C and H). These are the connections, when burned with oxygen (O2), that supply us with energy, resulting in carbo-oxydes (dunnow the right English word) (like CO2) and hydro-oxydes (like water: H2O).

    How did these fuels develop? Both fossile and bio developed the same way: Plants take CO2 from the air, H2O from the ground and energy from the sun’s light. They combine these elements to form the C and H connections we use. As you can see, the circle is round: CO2 is removed from air by growing plants, CO2 gets back to air by humanity burning plants. (Solar) Energy is captured by plants, energy is used by humanity. And as everyone knows, both fossile and biofuels are made of plants.

    So burning both fossile and bio fuels is like putting CO2 back where it belongs: in the air, ready for new plants to grow. Why is burning fossile (bio: see later) fuels bad for our environment then? Because it has to do with the time-scale: all the CO2 in fossile fuels is gathered over millions of years, and didn’t get back in the atmosphere. The atmosphere found a balance of it’s own, not needing the CO2 from all these plants. Now we are burning all these plants (under the form of oil), and putting this incredible amount of CO2 back in the atmosphere, with global warming as a result. Which ofcourse is bad  😞

    Why is burning biofuels not bad (in theory)? Because it takes the CO2 we have in our atmosphere TODAY (as opposed to fossile fuels containing CO2 from millions of years ago) to grow these fuels. So all of the CO2 produced by burning biofuels, was removed from our atmosphere whilst growing biofuels. So the net gain of CO2 in our atmosphere by growing and burning biofuels is 0 seen on a timescale of a couple of months! It doesn’t matter how much CO2 biofuels produce when burned, because that’s also the amount they took from the atmosphere whilst being produced some months before. Which clearly is not bad  🙂

    This is why some years ago governments started supporting biofuels: it is better for the environment when done right. Nowadays, problems have become clear: extra high food prices, burning of rainforests to make way for biofuelcrops, too much energy invested in growing the biofuelcrops, extra chemicals needed to grow the crops etc. Nonetheless, there are ways to make good use of biofuels bypassing most of these problems, so don’t give biofuels the bad name it doesn’t deserve. But as with all things, theory is only the first step towards reality…

    @Smacktard:

    There’s no doubt that current biofuels are more pollutive, even if the fuel itself is LESS pollutive, because WE have to make the biofuels. In the case of oil, nature’s already done the dirty work for us, over millions of years. All we need to do is get it out of the ground, which is ridiculously easy to do in the Middle East.

    I’m sorry, but current biofuels are less pollutive (in terms of CO2) when done right (this is when grown in places with enough sun/water/…, where no forests needed to be burned down, and when the resulting fuels aren’t transported to the other end of the world. Unfortunately, these are also the ideal circumstances to grow food…).

    That’s a good point, and, as a rule of thumb, we probably shouldn’t be massively releasing CO2 that’s been stored in the earth over millions of years, but…

    Do you live near an agricultural area? I live about 45 miles from Bakersfield, CA. I can tell you that farming is very energy intensive, involving all sorts of exhuast spewing machines: Tractors, migrant farm workers riding around on ATV’s, planes (not all the time, but there still is crop dusting going on), harvesters, and whatever machines they use to turn corn into a refinable product. Not to mention all the chemicals that go into modern-day farming (Bakersfield has a rather peculiar smell, when the wind blows right). Even though the end product has a net CO2 value of zero, developing it is another story.

    "THE RESULTS  Both studies found that changes in land use related to biofuel production would be a significant source of greenhouse gases in the future. Fargione reported that, overall, biofuels would cause higher total emissions for tens to hundreds of years. Some ecosystems had surprisingly high emissions—grasslands in the United States converted to corn farms would increase carbon dioxide for 93 years.

    Searchinger’s outlook is bleaker: He estimates that the rise in corn-based ethanol production in the United States would increase greenhouse gases, relative to what our current, fossil-fuel-based economy produces, for 167 years.

    THE MEANING  “Any biofuel that causes clearing of natural ecosystems is likely to increase global warming,” Fargione says. But not all bio­fuels are alike. For one, sugarcane ethanol, produced in Brazil, stands out to both researchers as the most efficient source studied, in terms of emissions. As long as there is land conversion, though, biofuels do not diminish carbon dioxide emissions. Biofuels made from sources that do not require land conversion, such as corn stover (the parts of corn plants left over after the ears are harvested), animal waste, damaged trees, algae, and food waste are promising alternatives.

    STATS BEHIND THE STUDY
    • Plants and soils contain almost three times as much carbon as the atmosphere.
    • About 20 percent of total current carbon emissions comes from land-use change.
    • In 2004, 74 million acres of U.S. land were devoted to corn for livestock feed as well as food crops. By 2016 about 43 percent of that area will be used to harvest corn for ethanol.
    • 27 percent of new palm oil plantations in Indonesia are created on land that began as tropical rain forest; 1.5 percent of these lands are being deforested each year.
    • In 2006 the United States produced 250 million gallons of biodiesel. Total production capacity is already 1.4 billion gallons a year and is expected to more than double with new plants and expansion of existing ones.
    • 2006 ethanol capacity was 4.4 billion gallons, with an expected increase of 2.1 billion gallons with current construction and expansion projects.
    • U.S. gasoline consumption is 389 million gallons per day, or about 142 billion gallons per year."

    http://discovermagazine.com/2008/may/03-biofuel-farming-looks-to-be-an-environmental-disaster

    And that study didn’t even go into the pollution of biofuel production- it was strictly based on land change-over.

    http://www.ewg.org/factsheets/cornethanol

    Just some info on how damaging to the environment corn is.

  • '17 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Just some info on how damaging to the environment corn is.

    All vegetables are inherently evil. The only proven artifact to preserve our survival is meat because with meat eating you don’t get people who are trying to stop others from eating it. Eating meat creates an open mind,whereas eating a vegetable creates a vegetable mind that is angry because it has no flavor and its pissed off that other people are enjoying their lives full of flavor and having no care in the world about what died to feed them. And they shouldn’t.

    People who are of the persuasion of the perceived environmental impact of having too many cows are just looking for an angle to cling on to in support of ancillary arguments dealing with “hurting” animals and they are grabbing at straws and voodoo. Its primarily a psychological study to understand that what you are denying yourself is EXACTLY the same thing as what you want to deny in others so as to make your guilt of denial go down easier.

    But thats the vegans problem.


    • improve organic agriculture

    Yeah, well, that has been done for 5000 years now, so there is no real possibility to further enhance the mediocre harvests (when compared to “conventional” agriculture) of organic farming.

    • eat less meat

    Nice slogan, but not really an option, as lots of people just WANT to eat meat (me included). Systems and ideas that don’t work because “the people don’t get it right” are bad systems and ideas. Those things have to work with the people that are around, else they are useless systems and ideas.

    No, a bit wrong, in Europe it’s the other way around. After the war, Europe’s countries decided they should be self-sufficient, they didn’t want to rely on foreign policies for their most basic need: food. That’s why the governments started sponsoring agriculture, leading to the cheap surplus they have today. It’s not investing to keep the prices high, but investing to keep the prices low. Hell, they even exported to Africa, and the prices of European food were lower there than the price of food produced by the local farmer, who as a result couldn’t climb out of the pit colonialism had left because he couldn’t sell his food to his subsaharan palls. Shuck, now I’ve really dragged everything into this. Just note that Europe should stop sponsoring it’s agriculture (especially France, ces imbécils!).

    The conclusion (stop to sponsor agriculture) is right, although for different reasons, which go too far into politics, and I don’t want to get this thread closed. The rest is almost totally wrong. After the war there have been sponsorings for increasing agricultural production, and after ca. 1970 there has been a vast overproduction. Since 1992 it has been obligatory for farmers not to use a certain amount of their arable land in order to recieve direct payments from the European Union. So effectively the EU was using tax money to pay farmers not to produce. And that continued until the end of 2007, as can be read here:

    http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1402&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

    So according to this press release (26/09/2007):

    The current area under obligatory set-aside amounts to 3.8 million hectares in the EU. If the set-aside rate was set to 0 %, the effective return of land could be between 1.6 and 2.9 million hectares. Considering average trends, it is likely to bring around 10 million tonnes of grains onto the market.

    So it seems there could be a massive boost in the amount harvested this year, which will take some pressure off the market for agricultural goods, but it will take some time until you can harvest that extra amount.


  • @Smacktard:

    Jermo, I don’t think your chart takes into account the energy costs that go into creating/extracting biofuels/oils. The energy needed to grow and harvest an acre of corn for biofuel use is going to be much greater than the energy needed to extract a like number of barells of  crude. In some places in the Middle East, it literally bubbles to the surface.

    That being said, we need to be develping technology that efficiently makes use of the lleftovers of crops (corn husks, etc.)

    It assumes the biofuel originates in the country it is burned and that the land did not need to be converted to farmland before planting a biofuel crop.  Otherwise, it may exceed oil, but oil is also subject to extraction, refining, shipping (!), etc.  Furthermore, you must include that growing a biofuel crop also offsets itself in emissions by natural plant respiration which oil does not do.


  • The other problem with ALL current biofuel analysis in the United States is that currently the computations are based on CORN, which is one of the least efficient sources of ethanol.

    If we were to remove the price supports on Sugar, and analyze sugar cane and sugar beats as a source of ethanol the math changes DRAMATICALLY.  In this regard Jenifer has consistently over the past several years been very accurate in her posts regarding the values of various biofuel sources (though the posts with the info have been deleted as they were previously in PD)

    Also, biodiesel is a completely different kettle of fish from ethanol, and is currently 100% viable, even in small production facilities such as the one in Pittsboro, NC that is producing only 200,000 gpy.  Their biodiesel is just under $4.00 per gallon, while petroleum diesel is about $4.70 per gallon and rising…

    Another neat thing about biodiesel that I recently learned is that, due to the cleaning nature of biodiesel (1 wrong move and you have grandma’s lye soap), is that even though the biodiesel does not have quite the same energy value as petroleum diesel, because the engine is clean the combustion is more efficient and the energy values initially INCREASE with biodiesel in terms of MPG over petroleum diesel.


  • Woot, I’m learning! Didn’t know the EU sponsoring to keep production low part, apology there.
    But aren’t they still sponsoring to keep prices low too?

    @Complex:

    • improve organic agriculture

    Yeah, well, that has been done for 5000 years now, so there is no real possibility to further enhance the mediocre harvests (when compared to “conventional” agriculture) of organic farming.

    • eat less meat

    Nice slogan, but not really an option, as lots of people just WANT to eat meat (me included). Systems and ideas that don’t work because “the people don’t get it right” are bad systems and ideas. Those things have to work with the people that are around, else they are useless systems and ideas.

    I don’t think any of the Egyptians/Romans/Ancient Chinese/Middle-Agers/Aztecs/Conquistadores/Romantici/Communists/… ever even had the faintest idea of what the word organic agriculture meant. Besides, why could geneticaly modifying crops not help organic agriculture? That’s not something ever tried the past 5000 yrs… And how about mass production of organic food, ever tried the passed 5000 years? And organic fertilizer (“compost” in my language, it’s not exactly a real fertilizer…)? And the growing of natural enemies of harvest reducing bugs, ever seen a viking try this?
    (I’m getting the impression your definition of organic is different of mine. The way I see it: organic means without chemicals damaging the environment, with as little pollution as possible)

    As for the “eat no meat”: It’s possible to make people eat less meat. Just raise the prices. Which is happening right now 😄 Tbh, I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t HAVE TO get my portion of meat every day. And I seldomly eat more than about 200 grams (most humans have fysically enough with less than 100 grams). I don’t get why everybody’s going “Don’t Touch My Meat Or I Kill Ya!”. (Un)Fortunately, if the need arises to consume less meat, we won’t have to choose: the food prices will do the choosing in our stead…
    Here’s the core of the problem: meat is a luxury people have gotten used to.

    @Smacktard: I completely agree with you, because we share the same opinion, differently formulated. (“biofuels are bad because they are done wrong” vs “when done right, biofuels are good”).


  • Organic agriculture is something for the rich people too, because it simply produces much less food with more of everything. And if you believe there are no chemicals used with organic agriculture then you are wrong. They too use fertilizer, only the ones they are allowed to use are much older then the modern developed furtilizers used in the common agriculture and are sometimes even more damaging to the enviorment then the latter. And even dung and slurry contain the same chemicals (e.g. phosphate and nitrate) as the normal fertilizer and if used too much they are equally bad for the “nature”.

    And don’t you dare touch my meat  😄


  • Owkey, since I didn’t know exact numbers, I checked Wiki: estimates for the yields of organic agriculture in respect to conventional agriculture range from 95-100% to 90% (in undeveloped countries it’s more like 130%). This is not “a lot less”, this is a bit less. However, there are studies stating organic harvests only get to 50%, and to be honest, I don’t know who’s right. I do know it can’t be worse for the environment than conventional agriculture.

    But I agree, prices are quite high compared to conventional agriculture. And there are quite a lot of people who simply can’t afford it. But no one can make better quality without raising prices, that’s just the way it works… Côte d’Or is more expensive than your local store’s chocolate, yet I don’t hear anyone complaining, because it’s obvious Côte d’Or is better quality. Ow, and those prices aren’t higher because there is lower yield per acre, but rather lower yield per hour of work spend on the acre. So more people are needed to produce organic food, resulting in higher prices.

    Aw well, if I won’t buy an expensive car, leaves enough money for decent food  🙂


  • Hey no problem this dicision must be made by everyone for himself, but some people propose to do only organic agriculture (and I understood your post in this way) and thus to stay with your choclate example you propose to remove the “milka” and produce only “Côte d’Or” now only the rich people can buy the choclate.

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