DROUGHTS DESTROY FOOD Credit Bigstock Photo
INDIA RICE PADDY January 2010
Droughts and Famine seem to be major players along the path to the End Of Time. Droughts are a major contributor to famine, and can therefore be considered as a sub-set of famine.
However, droughts have a wider impact than just contributing to famine. Droughts can have a very harmful effect on water available to drink; if there is no water to drink, the human body will fail (which is to say, death will occur). This problem of availability of water to drink will be reviewed in later posts.
Droughts also affect the levels of water in waterways used for water-borne transportation. The Great Lakes in the U.S. are now (March 2013) about two feet below normal (or 0.61 meters). These lake waters are used to transport ore from the mines to the steel mills (and other mills). As a result, the inland ships are reducing the load of ore transported, so that the ships can ride higher in the water.
The Mississippi River (central U.S.) carries massive amounts of inland shipping. With reduced water in the River, sand dredging has become a continuing task in order to deepen the navigation channels. Sometimes tug boats and barges are delayed for several days while the river work is done.
Prophecy predicts the Euphrates River will dry up as part of the End Of Time. This is a mighty river and such a drought will harm peoples in several countries through which this river flows.
As interesting as the above drought impacts are, we will focus this post on famine, and the world food supply problems.
As we continue this work, we need some definitions. Drought is defined as lack or insufficiency of rain for an extended period that severely disturbs the hydrologic cycle in an area. Droughts involve water shortages, crop damage, streamflow reduction, and depletion of groundwater and soil moisture. Drought is the most serious hazard to agriculture in nearly every part of the world. (Reference www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/drought )
Famine is defined as an extreme and protracted shortage of food, resulting in widespread hunger and a substantial increase in the death rate. General famines affect all classes or groups in the region of food shortage; class famines affect some classes or groups much more severely than others; regional famines affect only a particular region or country. Causes may be natural or human. Natural causes include drought, flooding, unfavorable weather conditions, plant disease, and insect infestation. Human causes include war, overpopulation, faulty distribution systems, and high food prices. (Ref. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionaryt/famine )
The UN (United Nations) has a different approach to defining famine. Per the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), famine is declared when malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 percent, more than 2 people per every 10,000 die per day, and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities.
To look at the extent of famine, we will consider the following, quoted from the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development): Almost 1 billion (a thousand million) people across the globe go to bed hungry every night. To meet the needs of a world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by 70 percent.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) agrees, and states: Famers will have to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 ————
The UN FAO adds: That amounts to 1 billion tons more wheat, rice, and other cereals, and 200 million more tons of beef and other livestock.
The UN FAO continues: But at this time, most available land is being farmed; however,some land is being used in ways that often decrease its productivity. These harmful practices lead to soil erosion and wasting of water. This means that a major “sustainable intensification” of agricultural productivity on existing farmland will be necessary.
Is it possible to achieve this 70 percent increase in food production, without a major increase in farm land (including perhaps no significant increase in farm land)? Let us take a look at the past years, and see how the world of food production has changed.
Again quoting from UN FAO: Thanks to the green revolution, the world’s cropland grew by just 12 percent between 1961 and 2009, but food productivity increased by 150 percent.
How was this achieved? There are multiple organizations at work around the world. Within the UN, there are three agencies: the WFP (World Food Program), the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization, and the IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development). Their missions complement one another and they often combine their expertise in agriculture, food assistance, and rural development. (Reference: www.wfp.org/about/partners/rome-based-un-agencies)
Within the United States, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) is the central focus agency for food supply. The USDA has worked in many areas, and US agencies that began activities as part of the USDA include the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Geological Survey (USGS), and the USDA Forest Service. Other agencies – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US Department of Commerce, and the Office of Naval Research – also conducted research projects on USDA land in Maryland, US. Collaborative research between USDA and other agencies continue today. (Reference: www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/apr10/research0410.htm?pf=1)
States within the US, universities, and colleges also conduct studies and agricultural research. These widespread activities help insure the integrity of the agricultural research work performed.
In addition to government agencies, private corporations which produce seed also perform agricultural research work. There are large amounts of value that come from the research work of the private companies. For instance, on March 26, 2013, Monsanto (MON) and DuPont (DD) announced a licensing agreement on Soybean Technologies which will have payments of multiple millions of dollars through 2017.
We realize there are agencies dedicated to food productivity in all countries. However, working through the channels of the United Nations; then to an individual country, the United States; and then to the many ways that food productivity work is distributed within a given country (again, the US); illustrates the complexity of food production.
HEALTHY COWS LOWER MILK COST
Photo credit: USDA
We see that there are a large number of organizations dedicated to food production around the world. However, we realize it would be impossible to list all countries and all agencies.
What are some recent food results of the top producing countries?
(Data is in thousands of metric tons)
Leading exporters —– 2000 —- 2005 —- 2010
United States —– 28,904 —– 27,291 —– 34,700
EU-27 ————- 15,675 —– 15,701 —– 22,000
Canada ———— 17,316 —– 16,020 —– 17,000
Australia ——— 15,930 —– 16,012 —– 14,500
Thailand ———– 7,521 —— 7,376 —— 10,000
Vietnam ———— 3,528 —— 4,705 ——- 6,000
United States —— 2,583 —— 3,623 ——- 3,565
Pakistan ———– 2,429 —— 3,654 ——- 2,650
United States —– 49,313 —— 54,201 —— 49,532
Argentina ———- 9,676 ——- 9,464 —— 14,500
Brazil ————- 6,261 ——- 4,524 ——- 8,500
Ukraine ————– 397 ——- 2,464 ——- 5,500
Source: US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, unpublished data from PS and D (Production, Supply, and Distribution) database
Published by US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012
GOAT Photo credit USDA S. Bauer
Meat Production by Type and Country: 2010
BEEF and VEAL
United States —–12,048
United States —–10,187
BROILER (chicken, 16 week old)
United States —–16,563
Data is in thousands of metric tons.
Source: US Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade, annual.
European Union-27 (EU-27) countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.
It would appear that the world food supply will be adequate, under “normal” conditions. We will now look into the causes of food availability problems.
Food availability problem causes may be through nature or be caused by peoples. Nature’s causes include drought, flooding (too much rain), unfavorable weather conditions (such as a cyclone, or a winter snow storm), plant disease, insect infestations, and volcanoes. Human causes include military war between nations, civil war within a nation, overpopulation, wasted food, and high food prices.
The US Agricultural Research Service is very concerned about how much food goes to waste between farm and “fork”, both nationally and internationally. (Ref. Agricultural Research, March, 2013, Wasted Food: What We Are Doing To Prevent Costly Losses.) (“Fork” refers to the actual eating of the food.)
The US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) estimated – in 2008 – that the amount of food lost annually at just the retail and consumer levels alone averaged 275 pounds per person, representing a total yearly national impact of $165 billion, US $. Cutting food losses by just 15 percent would provide enough extra food to feed more than 25 million people every year. Note that cutting these food losses would not require any new crop, pasture, or rangelands.
Another ERS assessment found that most of the food loss in developed countries happens post harvest, after the food has left the farm gate. In less developed countries, the bulk of the loss occurs before harvest. (Ref. Agricultural Research, March, 2013, as above.)
The ERS work covers a wide variety of foods, from grains to grapes, meats to potatoes, and more.
For example, ARS have developed an ozone-based treatment that growers of organic grapes can use – after harvest – to inhibit Botrytis cinerea, the microbe that causes gray mold. The research provides an alternative to sulfur dioxide, which organic growers are prohibited from using.
Some of the agricultural investigations target the needs of people in less-developed countries. For example, ERS developed the technology for a superior instant corn-soy blend. Twenty metric tons of this ready-to-eat emergency-aid food were shipped to Haiti in 2011 to feed more than 3,000 malnourished children. The product’s 1-year shelf life makes it ideally suited for tropical countries that lack adequate storage facilities. (Ref. Agricultural Research, March, 2013, as above.)
The on-going agriculture research is massive and in-depth. The University of Nevada (US), for example, conducted research to examine plant stress caused by drought and heat shock. Their long term objective is to develop different plants and crops with increased tolerance to a combination of drought stress and heat shock. (Ref. www.reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/)
Is every possible food plant problem associated with the End Of Time being investigated? NO. How will the sulfur dioxide and ashes released by massive volcanoes affect plant food production? The astonishing impact of volcanic ash and sulfur aerosols could be to block, or probably reduce, sunlight from reaching plants. Plants can not grow and thrive in shade, depending on density of the shade.
We will at this time look into the category of fish.
FISH FEED MANY PEOPLES
Market-size Catfish. Credit: USDA Photo credit: P. Greb
Fisheries – Commercial Catch by Top Producing Countries
(In thousands of metric tons)
Country ————- 1990 ————– 2008
World ————– 97,852 ———— 142,287
China ————– 31,136 ————- 47,527
India —————-3,800 ————– 7,584
Peru —————- 6,874 ————– 7,406
Indonesia ———– 3,022 ————– 4,850
Source: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries of the US, annual. Data from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
The oceans of the world have been a reliable source of food for mankind, since the beginning of mankind on this Earth. Has God warned of trouble to come?
Revelation 8:8-9 “And the second angel sounded, and as it were, a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
“And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”
Clearly, “——- a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood;” is a huge volcano. (For estimate of size, see this website Post: Volcanoes and Deadly Gases in this website.) Volcano eruptions release tons of sulfur dioxide and other gases into the air and the sea; as well as tons of ash. The sulfur dioxide and ash will pollute one third of the world’s ocean, and turn the ocean color to red.
The resulting ocean pollution will cause many (prophecy says one third) of the fish and other sea food to die. What happens if much of the previously available sea food disappears (which is to say, dies)? If mankind is to avoid death through famine, the land food crops will have to produce more food!
Will the land agriculture crops be able to produce more food? How about timing? The land plants will not instantly be able to produce more; this could happen in the middle of winter, for instance. This catastrophic event could happen in the end of the plant growing season, or any time when the plant food increase would be months away.
Is this as bad as it gets? Not yet! Revelation 16:3 “And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.”
How could this be? There already is a phenomenon called a “red tide”, which is a common term for a HAB. These harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae – simple ocean plants that live in the sea – grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds.
One of the best known HABs in the US occurs along Florida’s Gulf Coast, in the heat and hot sun of late summer. This bloom is caused by microscopic algae that produce toxins that kill fish and make shellfish dangerous to eat. The human illnesses caused by HABs can be debilitating or even fatal. (If this is the present, how much worse will a “red tide” be that pollutes the oceans of the world!)
The above information on “red tide”is supplied by the US www.oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/redtide.html
Are the rivers, and headwaters of the rivers, free of pollution? What has God warned? Revelation 16:4 “And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.” Apparently the “Red Tide” phenomena will go into the rivers and headwaters of the rivers and cause a similar fish and sea food kill such as has happened in the oceans.
Once the oceans of the world, and the rivers of the world, are closed to fishing, can we count on increased food supply from the land agriculture plants?
LOCUSTS SWARM Credit Bigstock photo
Unfortunately, at the same time that sea food is virtually disappearing, the land plant foods are also under attack.
Consider the case of locusts. “Massive outbreaks of locusts and Mormon crickets are currently (April 2013) afflicting people in North America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. A common characteristic of these insects is that they form huge groups called migratory bands that can contain millions of insects all traveling together in the same direction.” (Reference www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/.)
Many different plants and fruit/nut bearing trees are under attack around the world. For example, the widespread and rapid establishment of the olive fruit fly in California, US, required immediate changes in integrated pest management (IPM) programs for olives. After finding that resident natural enemies did not provide adequate control, researchers began a worldwide research for parasistoids, with exploration in the Republic of South Africa, Namibia, India, China, and other countries. ————— Two parasitoid species are now being released throughout the state’s olive-growing regions, and researches are studying their effectiveness. (Ref. USDA National Agricultural Library, Report Biological controls investigated to aid management of olive fruit fly in California, by Kent Daane and others.)
It would appear that the world can not count on increased harvest from land based plants and trees; the estimate is for a reduction by 25 percent! Food from land plants and trees will NOT REPLACE the food lost from the oceans.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD AS REGARDS FOOD SUPPLY? It may be that many people will have been killed by military war between nations, or civil strife within nations. It may be that many people will have died already from famine in the countries harmed by the military wars. It may be that many people will already have died from the various plagues and viruses. It may be that famine will strike down many people of the world at this time!
For preparations that an individual can take, see the section INDIVIDUAL PREPAREDNESS of this website.
We are advised in Acts 2:17&21 “And IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE LAST DAYS, SAITH GOD, I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH: AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS. AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, THAT WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.”