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Bad News for Malthusian Alarmists: Global Food Prices Down by 19 Per Cent

Global food prices are down for the fourth year running.

International food prices dipped by 19 per cent in the last year, the fourth consecutive annual fall, due to substantial decline in dairy, sugar and veg oil prices according to the United Nations food agency. Abundant supplies in the face of a timid world demand and an appreciating US dollar are the main reasons for the general weakness that has dominated food prices in 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said in its monthly food price index.

According to the Malthusian alarmists who dominate the world’s scientific establishment this just isn’t supposed to happen.

Here are two US “experts” enthusiastically quoted in a 2014 Guardian report on how “climate change” is going to cause massive food shortages leading to famine, pestilence, children with three heads, etc.

“Climate change is acting as a brake. We need yields to grow to meet growing demand, but already climate change is slowing those yields,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor and an author of the report.

and

“The impacts are already evident in many places in the world. It is not something that is [only] going to happen in the future,” said David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University’s centre for food security, who devised the models.

“Almost everywhere you see the warming effects have a negative affect on wheat and there is a similar story for corn as well. These are not yet enormous effects but they show clearly that the trends are big enough to be important,” Lobell said.

Abundant food supplies are, of course, good news for the world in general (less starvation, more disposable income to spend on other things) but absolutely terrible news for greenies. One of their religion’s main articles of faith is that “scarce resources” are fast running out, that the planet is fast exceeding its “carrying capacity” and that only through a form of rationing by an enlightened global elite can there be “justice” in the present and a “sustainable future” for the children of tomorrow.

They believe this because it aligns with their control freak instincts which spring from exactly the same totalitarian mindset which gave us the Bengal Famine, Auschwitz and China’s One Child policy.

As I mention in Watermelons, this belief that there are too many people for the planet to feed can be traced at least as far back as the 2nd century Carthaginian priest Tertullian:

Our numbers are burdensome to the world, which can hardly supply us from its natural elements; our wants grow more and more keen, and our complaints more bitter in all mouths, whilst Nature fails in affording us her usual sustenance. In very deed, pestilence, and famine, and wars, and earthquakes have to be regarded as a remedy for nations, as the means of pruning the luxuriance of the human race.

But that was 1800 years ago when scientific knowledge was harder to come by. Since then, you might have thought, intelligent people would know better.

Not a bit of it.

Despite being extravagantly wrong, Malthusian shysters like Paul Ehrlich – author of the Sixties bestseller The Population Bomb – continue to be feted as visionary seers.

Far worse, though, than the injustice of these posturing pillocks being taken seriously and showered with awards is the damage their junk-science fearmongering does to real people.

Matt Ridley covers this well in his excellent new book The Evolution of EverythingHis chapter on the misuse of Malthus is devastating.

Here he is on the origins of China’s One Child policy:

China’s one-child policy also derives directly from neo-Malthusian writing. As Susan Greenhalgh, a Harvard anthropologist, recounts in her book Just One Child, in 1978 Song Jian, a guided-missile designer with expertise in control systems, attended a technical conference in Helsinki. While there he heard about two books by neo-Malthusian alarmists linked with a shadowy group of environmentalist bigwigs called the Club of Rome: The Limits to Growth and A Blueprint for Survival.

The Limits to Growth had applied control systems theory, of the kind Song was an expert in, not to the trajectory of missiles but to the trajectory of population and resource use. A Blueprint for Survival, written by Zac Goldsmith’s uncle Teddy but signed by a veritable Who’s Who of the scientific establishment, including Sir Julian Huxley, Sir Peter Medawar and Sir Peter Scott, echoed Malthus: “It is unrealistic to suppose that there will be increases in agricultural production adequate to meet forecast demands for food.”

Back in China, Song republished the main themes of both books under his own name, and shot to fame within the regime. General Qian Xing Zhong was put in charge of the one-child policy. He ordered the sterilisation of all women with two or more children, the insertion of IUDs into all women with one child (removal of the device being a crime), the banning of births to women younger than 23, and the mandatory abortion of all unauthorised pregnancies up to the eighth month.

What was the international reaction to this holocaust? The United Nations Secretary General awarded a prize to General Qian in 1983, and recorded his “deep appreciation” for the way in which the Chinese government had “marshalled the resources necessary to implement population policies on a massive scale”. Eight years later, even though the horrors of the policy were becoming ever more clear, the head of the United Nations Family Planning Agency said that “China has every reason to feel proud of its remarkable achievements” in population control, before offering to help China teach other countries how to do it. A benign view of this authoritarian atrocity continues to this day. The media tycoon Ted Turner told a newspaper reporter in 2010 that other countries should follow China’s lead in instituting a one-child policy to reduce global population over time.

To that rogues’ gallery of names can be added: Al Gore; Jimmy Carter; Vaclav Havel; Romano Prodi; Kofi Annan; the Dalai Lama; Jean Chretien; Mikhail Gorbachev; Peter Gabriel; Bianca Jagger; Paulo Coelho; Mary Robinson; Deepak Chopra; Aung San Suu Kyi; Jacques Delors; Guy Verhofstadt and many more.

They are all members or associate members of the Malthusian organisation – The Club of Rome (or its offshoots the Club of Budapest and the Club of Madrid) – which inspired the despicable one child policy which denied generations of Chinese families the pleasure of having brothers and sisters to play with one another.

Moreover, they share the “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” mindset which facilitated everything from the deaths of 10 million Indians in the 1877 Bengal famine to Paul Ehrlich urging President Johnson in the 1960s that US food aid to the Indian subcontinent should only be granted if accompanied by a programme of forced sterilization.

Yes their hearts might be in the right place. But their Nanny-knows-best solutions are pure fascism.

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