Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Betty Bought a Bit of...HEY!!!!!

Oh, what turbulent times we live in.

I think the recent era has done much to show us just how delicately balanced everything is. Many if not most if not all of the various processes at work in the world have been in a state of equilibrium for some time. Throw off the balance, and everything comes crashing down.

Look at the close relation between fuel and food. Demand for petroleum remained balanced for a long time, but now increased demand from countries like India and China has shattered that balance. Toss in a few nasty situations in world politics, and you have oil prices shooting through the roof. Unfortunately, that affects not only transportation but a huge number of different industries including food production.

The result? Higher food prices.

Naturally, people deal with high fuel prices by looking for alternative fuels. Conveniently, this fits right in with the environment agenda, which would also like to see sulfur and carbon-producing fossil fuels relegated to the "extinct technology" file. One of the most popular alternatives is biodiesel, which looks incredibly good on paper. However, as a crop-based product, its production is only possible if there is also a proportional decrease in food crop production.

The result? Higher food prices.

Now Japan is facing something even more ironic. Not so long ago the government started a health-related hate campaign against milk. All kinds of studies were publicized showing how evil milk really is and discouraging people from drinking it. The campaign was given a lot of media coverage, and the milk-bashing crusade consequently got lots of attention.

The result? People stopped drinking milk.

Not surprisingly, a LOT of dairy farmers have been driven out of business. However, milk demand has remained surprisingly constant as a result of existing commercial contracts. That means a much more limited milk supply is going to produce more or less the same amount of drinkable milk as before. The same is true of cheese. So where is the falling supply being felt?

Answer: butter.

There is no butter to be found in ANY supermarkets anywhere. You can get it at the gift shops of ranches, but in general stores around the country there is simply NO butter. We're told that it may be weeks before shipments arrive. Households aren't really affected so much, since margarine is a realistic option, but bakeries are facing a crisis. They're being told they might have to wait over a month to get any butter at all.

I guess, for the time being, this is margarine country. I wonder if it'll really affect the bread that much.

Endangered species?


  • This bassackwards type of thinking is happening here too.

    North and South Dakota are sitting on five billion barrels of oil, but they can't drill because of the environmental movement. Food costs are rising here too, not because of a corn shortage, which is inferior to sugar cane for making ethanol, but because diesel has passed five dollars a gallon.

    We don't have a milk shortage, but we have a shortage of good people in government with common sense.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 1:03 AM  

  • The price of food here in Australia has really jumped up, and fuel of course. Petrol is now about 1.70 a litre. We just buy food at the cheapest shop - called Not Quite Right! - though we really want to support locals.
    Even the largest supermarkets have higher prices now. Of course we should grow everything in our back yards but there are water restrictions.

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 11:31 AM  

  • North and South Dakota are where all the hippies are apparently... :D

    The entire global economy is predicated on inexpensive energy to transport, process, distribute, and use goods and services. When pure petroleum goes up, the price of alternative sources like oil shale and bioshales goes up because they are harder to process and the price to create it rises along with the price of the cheaply extracted oil that is used to get the alternatives.

    Plastics, medicines, and fertilizer(!) are also derived primarily from oil and their prices go up too.

    The real question is why oil prices are going up so rapidly when the production, even if flat, hasn't changed much. THAT is the question I would like the real answer to.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 1:43 PM  

  • Dairy products are bad for you anyway. But people need to stop pointing fingers at scapegoats and realize that we really do live on a finite planet.

    For excellent news and analysis on the energy front see: The Oil Drum.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 7:14 AM  

  • 5 billion barrels of oil is enough to last the USA about 7 months. The Dakota deposits are not light sweet crude or even close - it's shale oil and will be costly to exract.

    The Dakota shale oil IS being developed and a refinery is presently under construction.

    Also, it matters not a wit how big a deposit is if you can't extract it quickly enough (you could have a 5000 gallon water tank, but it only dripped out 1 cup a day, you'd still go thirsty).

    I know - let's burn margarine! Oh, we're already doing that and the cost of corn is going through the roof?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:30 AM  

  • My dad was working on a project related to the oil sands up in northern Alberta last year. He must be raking it in with oil prices hitting the roof!

    Anyway, I thought the Japanese were lactose intolerate.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 2:58 PM  

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