The World Food Price Index was relatively stable during the 1990′s, but shot up dramatically during 2007-8 and again in 20010-11, reaching an all time high 0f 238 in February of 2011 and it has remained near this height since then.
In over two decades of tracking world food prices, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization index has never stayed so high for so long!
There’s a growing global population that shows no sign of leveling off and may exceed 9 billion by mid-century.
There’s a growing middle class worldwide that is switching to a more meat-based diet, which requires more agricultural land per calorie.
Given our current inaction, climate change is just going to get worse and worse for many decades. Marc Jensen and others have written at length about its dire implications for food security:
Washington Post’s, Lester Brown explain how extreme weather, climate change drive record food prices.
With No End in Sight for Texas Drought, ABC News Explains: “Every Farmer in the World Will Be Affected by Climate Change”
The Coming Food Crisis: Global food security is stretched to the breaking point, and Russia’s fires and Pakistan’s floods are making a bad situation worse; Podesta, Caldwell: “Lasting gains in agricultural productivity will require … action to confront climate change.”
The Guardian reports” How extreme weather could create a global food crisis: 2010 was among the hottest and wettest years on record – we are entering a period of climate and food insecurity
That is the medium- and long-term future. As the FAO documents, the near-term future is not promising either:
Total cereal utilization in 2011/12 is forecast to increase by 1.4 percent, almost matching anticipated 2011 production. As a result, global cereal inventories by the close of seasons in 2012 are likely to remain close to their already low opening levels. Only rice stocks are expected to increase significantly, supported by record production.
Wheat inventories are likely to decline to their lowest level since 2009 and world stocks of coarse grains are also forecast to plunge, with maize inventories falling to 124 million tonnes, their lowest level since 2007. Given the tight global supply and demand balance for coarse grains, its stocks-to-use ratio is forecast to fall to a historical low of 13.4 percent.
As Marc Jensen summarizes: “The world needs to come together very soon to develop a comprehensive food security strategy because we are headed off a cliff.”
Global climate warming + general extreme weather = food insecurity for the most vulnerable.
Note: I received this information from friend Marc Jensen of West Valley Greenleaf and thought I would condense it somewhat and pass it on here because it highlights a little acknowledged effect of global warming, the relationship with corn production, world poverty and social unrest.