Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Impact of Iowa Flooding

Moneyweek - Why floods could bring America to its knees;
A catastrophe for Iowa farmers will not be just a catastrophe for Midwestern Americans. In the Iowa floods, we’ll see more evidence of how the problems of weird weather (climate change) combine and ramify the problems associated with Peak Oil. In this particular case they lead to an inflection point sometime around the 2008 harvest season, which will also be our time of political harvest.

These are not your daddy’s or granddaddy’s floods. These are 500-year floods, events not seen before non-Indian people started living out on that stretch of the North American prairie. The vast majority of homeowners in Eastern Iowa did not have flood insurance because the likelihood of being affected above the 500-year-line was so miniscule — their insurance agents actually advised them against getting it.

The personal ruin out there will be comprehensive and profound, a wet version of the 1930s Dust Bowl, with families facing total loss and perhaps migrating elsewhere in the nation because they have no home to go back to.

Iowa in 2008 will be an even slower-motion disaster than Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Beyond the troubles of 25,000 people who have lost all their material possessions is a world whose grain reserves stand at record lows. The crop losses in Iowa will aggravate what is already a pretty dire situation. So far, the US public has experienced the world grain situation mainly in higher supermarket prices. [...]

Like a lot of other activities in American life these days, agribusiness is unreformable along its current lines. It will take a convulsion to change it, and in that convulsion it will be dragged kicking-and-screaming into a new reality. As that occurs, the US public will have to contend with more than just higher taco chip prices.
We’re heading into the Vale of Malthus — Thomas Robert Malthus, the British economist-philosopher who introduced the notion that eventually world population would overtake world food production capacity. Malthus has been scorned and ridiculed in recent decades, as fossil fuel-cranked farming allowed the global population to go vertical. Techno-triumphalist observers who should have known better attributed this to the “green revolution” of bio-engineering. Malthus is back now, along with his outriders: famine, pestilence, and war.

We’re headed, it seems, toward a fall 'crunch time', and that crunching sound will not be of cheese doodles and taco chips consumed on the sofas of America.
I think we’re heading into a season of hoarding. As the presidential campaign moves into its final round, Americans may be hard up for both food and gasoline. On the oil scene, the next event on the horizon is not just higher prices but shortages. Chances are they will occur first in the Southeast states because oil exports from Mexico and Venezuela feeding the Gulf of Mexico refineries are down more than 30% +over 2007.
Still holding out for truth and a plan of action from either of these two *candidates* for POTUS? You are on your own. Get ready.