Streams

Tackling the Food Crisis

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, talks about the organization's new report, which says food prices will double within the next 20 years because of climate change and other factors.

Guests:

Raymond Offenheiser
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [15]

Tegan B. from Brooklyn, NY

Thank you for discussing these issues. Climate Change is often underbroadcasted these days with all of the more pressing news of the day. It's easier to focus on issues in the present rather than issues that have long-term effects and have long-term solutions that need to be addressed now.

The real heart of climate change is that the world's poorest will be most effected AND already are being effected. There have been reports out since before 2008 about this. Across the board scientists, Oxfam and the United Nations have been clamoring for years that Climate Change is here now! It is already affecting coast communities with flooding, its affecting parts of Africa with severe droughts and infertile soil which had been increasing every year. With these issues it is more difficult to produce food. Also its important to note that the flooding caused increases the likelihood of insect born disease, and as conditions get worse we will see more communities being displaced.

The US public needs greater education about the causes and solutions of Climate Change. The US has been consistently one of the largest producers of the gases which cause Global Climate Change. We are still using coal for our power plants which is the leading cause of greenhouse emissions here in the US.

Ironically too as it comes to food production fertilizers and animal husbandry are huge contributors to greenhouse gases. Americans need to think about their food and the impact is has on the world.

Jun. 09 2011 11:37 AM
Phil Henshaw from way uptown

What's of an even greater concern than the unexpected snags in supply, like severe weather, is what draws in the speculators. What allows them to treat food as a "cornered market" and raise prices above the cost of production, is excessively growing demand.

I wrote a very readable article on the basic science of growth systems that is determining why there's a "confluence all at once" that is causing this world crisis. It's that we have been solving our economic problems by being more productive in taking resources, of all kinds, from the earth, treating the earth as if it was infinite.

Increasing productivity actually means that, becoming skillful at using more of finite resources. In about 2001 a dramatic change in how the world food and fuel resource markets behave began to emerge. They had always been able to recover from supply shocks and return to former stable price levels. Now our habit of ever increasing demand for resources and using increasing productivity in exploiting to find them have run out, not of resources but out of the ability for prices to recover from supply shocks.

That's the real reason that the "floor price" of most commodities are all stubbornly escalating, and there is NO solution but reducing demand. It's a "big crunch" on the earth, a "big crunch" on our economies, and of course, a "big crunch" on our ego's. It spoils the dream of ever multiplying returns that the earth is now becoming demonstrably unresponsive. You don't need to trust the analysis of someone like me. You can read it in the curves yourself.

The world's resource markets search the world looking for new kinds of resources or new and better ways of employing them, and ... they're coming up short in relation to the our various kinds of persistently increasing demand! It's an easy article, on a somewhat difficult topic, but you'll find you already know quite a bit about it too.

A decisive moment for Investing in Sustainability
http://www.synapse9.com/pub/ASustInvestMoment-PH.pdf

Jun. 09 2011 11:32 AM
Amy from Manhattan

"Grist" magazine had an article a few years ago about how more carbon in the atmosphere might mean more crop growth but the crops would have less nutritional value: http://www.grist.org/article/global-warming-and-empty-calories.

Jun. 09 2011 11:31 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Interesting topic and guest, but once again you're downplaying (if not ignoring) the overwhelming influence of corporate money in politics.

Jun. 09 2011 11:29 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

The food crisis has to be met from different directions. One, we can not be breeding lie maniacs anymore. Population is way out of control. Two, clearly, need to look into regulating our climate in order to more efficiently grow our foods. Three, technology needs to be addressed to make up for the inability to grow enough foods naturally.

Jun. 09 2011 11:29 AM
whoindatgarden from Brooklyn

Food imports is indirectly importing of water.
It is the biggest problem that faces the world, even places like Europe and the U.S. are going to deal with water shortages due to climate change and over use.
In places like China and India the water table levels have dropped in order of 200 feet and dropping further.
Conservation and a Green Revolution 2.0 is needed. Where is a Norman Borlaug when you need him most.

Jun. 09 2011 11:26 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I agree that "global warming" is too mild a term, & I'd extend that to "climate change." I try to promote "global climate upset/disturbance/disruption." But I also like oilmonkey's "climate instability." Too many people think climate = weather & global = uniform.

Jun. 09 2011 11:25 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Population decline is happening in the "first world" or Europe/US/Japan/Russia, etc. That is because women are heavily in the work force, having far fewer, and in many cases no children, the acceptance of abortion, gay marriage, etc., mean fewer children and more old people. It also means decline of the West vis a vis the Third World over time.

Jun. 09 2011 11:22 AM
John from NYC

Are we going to tell the truth here?

Hunger is 100% correlated to command (read socialist) economies

Increase of feed cost is mainly due to Chinese affluence and---

The US using FOOD for fule -- the most immoral idea ever !!!!!!

Jun. 09 2011 11:20 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

It's Malthus all over again. The more food you produce, the many, many more mouths are born into the third world to consume it. Since 1800, the world population has increased from about 1 billion to about 7.5 billion - in a mere two centuries.

Jun. 09 2011 11:17 AM
Yosif from Manhattan

Bring back the STET tax and end speculation!!!!

Jun. 09 2011 11:16 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

The food crisis could be further compounded by infestations of pests. For example, here in the Hudson Valley a new stink bug (the Brown-Marmorated Stink Bug) originating from Asia is eating it's way up from the south. It has no predator here and it swarms like locusts and it eats all kinds of vegetation.

Jun. 09 2011 11:13 AM
EVC from B'klyn

1 billion people hungry... this goes to the Is Capitalism Moral? debate BL moderated a few weeks ago; I was impressed that BL raised this issue for discussion, so I attended the 'debate' only to find the Demos guy cop-out on the question... what a disappointment, not surprising that pundit-types want to avoid this issue. Apologies as I would have made this comment elsewhere but havent been able to find the debate page on the WNYC site.

Jun. 09 2011 11:11 AM
oilmonkey

Stop referring to 'GLOBAL WARMING!' The issue is anthropogenic CLIMATE INSTABILITY.

Jun. 09 2011 11:10 AM
Xtina from E. Village

Please don't call it Global Warming. This is not what's happening, and it enablers deniers to scoff when there is excessive snowfall. It is cliamte change, created by man's activities.

Jun. 09 2011 11:08 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.