FT203: “People vacationing in warmer climes know global warming is better than global cooling.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 3rd, 2014

Fundamental Truth

It is very rare for People to Vacation somewhere where they have to wear more Clothes

People love a white Christmas.  Looking out your front window as a gentle snow falls.  Christmas lights and reindeer on the lawn poking out from the fields of snow.  Coming in from the cold and shaking the snow off.  Then warming up with a cup of cocoa in front of the fireplace.  Feeling the warmth radiate out while listening to the pops of the burning wood.  The warm memories of Christmases past.  Then comes New Year’s Day.  And then you just hate that foul white stuff as you shovel it for the umpteenth time.

As you shovel and your back aches and you feel what may have been a hernia you now understand why people retire to someplace warm.  To get away from this.  Before they have a heart attack shoveling it.  Because you’re sick and tired of shoveling snow.  Cleaning the snow off your car.  Fearing for your life when cars ahead of you spinout.  Wondering how many times can you slip and fall before you start breaking something.  But most of all you just hate being cold.  All you can think about is the joy of last summer sitting in the shade with a cold beer.  Doing nothing.  And loving it.

Even young and healthy college kids hate the cold.  Which is why when they go on spring break they head south.  And between the boozing and the sex they spend time lying on the beach doing nothing.  And loving it.  With the ladies practically naked in tiny bikinis sunning themselves.  And the men looking at the practically naked ladies.  For it is very rare for any vacationer (other than those on a ski getaway) to vacation somewhere where they have to wear more clothes.  Because people just don’t like being cold.

The Fall Harvest feeds most People most of the Year

But we complain when it’s too hot, too.  During the dog days of summer.  When it’s the humidity, not the heat, that makes it so insufferable.  Until we step inside our air conditioned home.  Or sit in an air conditioned movie.  While enjoying a cool beverage.  And some delicious popcorn.  Or spend time in the pool.  Or at the beach.  Where the ladies are practically naked.  Or going out to eat.  Enjoying cool adult beverages and a nice meal at an outdoor cafe while wearing shorts.  Or dining inside an air conditioned restaurant.

You may sweat and stink when you get home.  But you won’t be tracking snow and salt into the house.  Soaking the rugs and carpets.  Or leaving puddles of water on the tiled floor.  No.  During the summer there’s no mess.  There are no wet socks in your shoes.  No frost bite.  No hypothermia. If you car breaks down in the summer you don’t have to worry about freezing to death before someone rescues you.  Whereas if you slip off the road and down the embankment on an expressway during a blizzard frostbite and hypothermia are real possibilities.  As is freezing to death.  Because being cold is dangerous.  And being cold when you’re stranded a long way from home or help can be lethal.

Another bad thing about cold is that things don’t grow in the cold.  Which is why farming is seasonal.  A problem throughout history.  As people’s need to eat is not seasonal.  So not only did farmers have to grow food to eat during the summer they had to grow enough during the summer to feed everyone throughout the winter.  With the fall harvest feeding most people most of the year.  Making a long growing season essential for survival.  Because if you ran out of food before the next harvest you went hungry.  Or died.

If we have another Little Ice Age we may suffer Recurring Famines once More

There were recurring famines during the Little Ice Age.  Which ran from approximately 1350 to about 1850.  The climate cooled enough to shorten the growing season.  Which were cooler and wetter than they are today.  And because of that they didn’t grow enough food to feed everyone.  With the occasional famine wiping out about 10% or more of a country’s population.  As masses of people starved to death because of global cooling during the Little Ice Age.

The United States suffered some droughts the past few growing seasons.  And food prices went up because of these droughts.  But there were no famines in the United States.  Or in the countries the United States exports food to.  No, today the only countries having recurring famines are hard-line communist or other such closed and oppressive states.  Such as North Korea.  Al Gore has been warning us about the perils of global warming since the Nineties.  We did nothing.  And a few decades later there are still no famines.  Because even in regions suffering from the worst drought farmers can still irrigate their land.  And grow food.  Food may be more costly but there will be food.  But no famine.

People who worry about global warming fret about these droughts.  And the lack of fresh water.  But about 70% of the earth is nothing but ocean.  And we can desalinize seawater.  It’ll make water more costly.  But there will always be water.  Even during the worst of droughts.  So even if global warming does its worst to us we will be all right.  No.  The real fear is global cooling.  Because global cooling will shorten our growing seasons.  Which will reduce our food supply.  And if you ever looked at an aerial view of our vast farmland you will understand the problem that is.  It’s just too big to bring indoors.  If we have another Little Ice Age we may suffer recurring famines once more.  And not just in North Korea.  But throughout the world.  Those people vacationing in warmer climes know it.  Global warming is better than global cooling.  For our personal comfort and safety.  And our food supply.

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Food Scarcities and High Food Prices are Government-Made Crises

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 21st, 2013

Week in Review

The world’s population is growing.  And it’s threatening our food supplies.  Or so say the experts on population.  But what’s interesting is that the populations in the advanced economies of the world which are generally food exporters have fallen.  Apart from the United States these countries are having so few babies that they won’t be able to replace their parent’s generation.  So these countries will see a decline in population.  Yet the world’s population is growing.  So who’s growing the world’s population?   And threatening the world’s food supplies?

Primarily the less-advanced economies.   The food importers.  Like the countries of Africa.  Afghanistan.  Yemen.  And the Palestinian Territories.  Many of which have the lowest life expectancies.  And the highest child mortality rates.  So, the countries that can feed the world aren’t having enough babies to replace the current generation.  While the countries that have the highest fertility rates are also suffering from the shortest life expectancies due to those high child mortality rates.   So it’s hard to see where the food crisis is.

Once upon a time food was so scarce that famines were commonplace.  A lot of wars were fought to prevent famine.  One of the reasons Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union was for food.  To make Europe’s breadbasket, the Ukraine, a part of the Third Reich.  Today the advanced economies have so much food that they’re making gasoline out of it.  So if there is any food shortage it must be manmade.  And anything manmade can be unmade.  But until we do food prices will rise (see Food prices forecast to treble as world population soars by Steve Hawkes posted 7/21/2013 on The Telegraph).

Professor Tim Benton, head of Global Food Security working group, added there could be shortages in the UK in the future as the emerging middle class in south-east Asia sparks a revolution in “food flows” such as the trade in grain and soya around the world…

The shock forecast came as the chief executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke, warned the era of cheap food was over because of the forecast surge in demand.

In an interview over the weekend, the supermarket chief said: “Over the long run I think food prices and the proportion of income spent on food may well be going up…”

Food inflation in the UK has been running around 4 per cent for much of the year, and is among the highest in the EU after poor harvests last year and the rising cost of feed.

Here’s a thought.  If food is becoming so scarce why don’t stop using it for energy?  Let’s use fossil fuels that we can’t eat for energy.  And use food for food.  By mandating that we add ethanol to gasoline we diverted corn from the food chain already suffering from a depleted corn crop thanks to Midwest droughts.  Raising corn prices.  And meat, poultry and dairy prices.  As cows and chicken eat corn.  So if we stop artificially raising the price of corn feed we stop raising the price of everything downstream of corn in the food chain.  Crazy talk, I know.  But sometimes you just have to think outside of the box.

And here’s another thought.  Let’s do everything we can to bring energy costs down.  Let’s drill for more oil.  Let’s build that Keystone XL pipeline.  Let’s frack like there’s no tomorrow.  Because high fuel prices cause high food prices.  Everything we grow and raise has to travel great distances before landing on our kitchen tables.  By tractor, by truck, by train by ship.  Means of conveyance with internal combustion engines that burn a petroleum product.  From the farm to the silo to the grain elevator to the rail terminal to the mill to the food processing plant to the wholesale distributor to the grocery store.  Every mile of every trip from the farm to our kitchen table burns a petroleum product.  Every mile we burn fuel bringing food to our tables adds to the price tag in the grocery store.  Higher fuel costs even reduce what families can spend in those grocery stores.  For the higher gas prices are the greater amount of their paycheck go into their gas tanks.  Leaving less to buy food with.

And speaking of energy let’s dig up that coal and use it for what it’s best for.  Burning.  To produce steam.  To spin turbines.  That spin electric generators.  And let’s end the war on coal.  And make it less costly to generate electric power.  Because when food isn’t moving it’s using electric power.  For electric power runs our grain elevators, our mills, our food processing plants, our wholesale distributors and our grocery stores.

There are a lot of manmade causes making food scarcer and more costly.  If we care about feeding the world we should focus on the manmade causes.  For we can do something about those.  Unlike a drought.  But petroleum and coal can even lessen the impact of the occasional drought.  We can ship food from areas not suffering from drought to areas suffering from drought.  And we can use the electric power generated from burning coal to store food surpluses in refrigerated warehouses.

The only food crisis we have is manmade.  Or, rather, government-made.  Where government officials take more and more control of the private economy to fight the myth of manmade global warming.  Whose solution to save the planet is a simple one.  Save the planet.  Kill the people.

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Famine, Crop Yields, Food Surpluses, Irrigation, Plow, Crop Rotation, Cultivars, Fertilizers, Pesticides, Tractor, Railroad and Ships

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 5th, 2013

Technology 101

(Originally published May 23rd, 2012)

Because of Advances in Farming Fewer People could Grow more Food

Cold weather kills people.  A lot of people throughout history have died during winters as they exhausted their food supplies.  That’s why preparing for the winter was serious business.  You had to store enough food to carry you through the winter.  And if the fall harvests were poor it spelled big trouble.  And famine.  It’s hard to imagine what this was like.  A long winter ahead of you with an insufficient food supply.  It was scary.  For it meant some people would die before the spring came.  Hard to fathom this in a day where you can actually drive your car through a blizzard to your favorite greasy diner or fast food restaurant for a delicious hot meal to take off the chill of the coldest winter day.  It wasn’t always like this.

And it wasn’t only long winters that killed people.  Sometimes the long summers did.  Where there were insufficient rains.  And drought.  That destroyed crops and drastically reduced fall harvests.  You don’t hear much about famine these days in the U.S, Canada, Britain, France, Germany or other advanced nations.  But underdeveloped and impoverished nations suffer famine to this day.  Why?  Two primary reasons.  Improved crop yields.  And improved transportation.  The advanced nations have them.  The impoverished nations don’t.

Improved crop yields create food surpluses.  Key to civilization itself.  Food surpluses allowed a middle class to arise because everyone did not have to grow food.  Because of advances in farming fewer people could grow more food. Those who didn’t have to grow food could think about other things.  Including ways to further improve crop yields.  By creating better tools.  Better techniques.  Better food storage.  And when you do all of these things you not only have enough food for yourself and for your surplus you have enough to export.  To those who do not have enough food.  Even allowing people to live in areas that cannot produce food.  For they can trade for food.  Thanks to these surpluses available for export.

Food is so Plentiful and Inexpensive Today that the Problem in America is not Famine but Obesity

Early farms relied on the fertile soil of river banks.  The spring flooding of the rivers raised river levels.  When the water retreated it left behind fertile soil.  Eventually we learned how to take control of our water resources.  And used it to make fertile land away from river banks.  Using irrigation.  Bringing the water to the land.  Probably the next great development was the plow.  Which let us take control of the land.  We tilled the soil to aerate it.  To control weeds.  To mix in organic material.  Such as manure.  To prepare it for planting.  And we used irrigation to bring those crops to harvest.

We then developed crop rotation to replenish nitrogen in the soil.  And to control pests.  Certain pests attack certain crops.  By rotating crops pest infestation couldn’t spread and return year after year.  Families of crops need certain nutrients.  Rotation prevents the depletion of any single nutrient.  Then we took control of the plants we grew.  By creating new plants.  Cultivars.  Using selective breeding to increase grain size, the number of grains per plant, improve disease resistance, etc.

Then we turned to chemistry.  Creating fertilizers.  And pesticides.  These two advancements alone exploded crop yields.  Never before did so few grow so much with so little.  We maximized the agricultural potential of land year after year.  And then we mechanized the farm.  Introducing the tractor.  Allowing the same number of farmers to cultivate more land.  So not only did their existing lands yield more they added more high-yield lands to explode yields.  Creating huge food surpluses available for export.  And slashing the price of food across the board.  From the bread we make from wheat.  To corn-fed beef.  Food is so plentiful and inexpensive today that the problem in America is not famine but obesity.  Obesity is bad but it takes a lot longer to die from obesity than it does from famine.  And we enjoy all of those delicious things that are making us so fat.  While there’s nothing to enjoy when starving to death.

We were able to Raise Crop Yields to such High Levels we have Food Available for Everyone in this World

As crop yields increased more food entered the market.  Good for people.  But bad for farmers.  Because they depressed crop prices.  Large farms that cultivated more land could still make a profit.  But the small farmer who didn’t cultivate more land just saw his revenue fall.  Until his revenue fell below his costs.  Leaving him unable to service the debt he incurred to mechanize his farm.  Causing bankruptcy.  Which happened a lot in the Thirties.  Causing all those bank runs during the Great Depression.

To fight this free fall in crop prices countries enacted tariffs and import restrictions.  The British Corn Laws kept out the less expensive foreign food so the landowning aristocracy could maximize their profits.  And when the British repealed the Corn Laws and adopted free trade everything the landowning aristocracy feared happen.  Food became inexpensive and plentiful.  In large part because of the United States.  Who was maximizing their crop yields.  And then using the railroad to ship their surpluses to the great rivers.  The Ohio.  The Missouri.  The Mississippi.  Where they loaded these surpluses onto steamships.  Where it traveled down the Mississippi to the Port of New Orleans.  Where they transferred it to ocean-going sail ships and steamers.  Bound for Europe.  And Britain.  Where this food fed hungry people.  And cut into the profits of the wealthy landowners.

But it wasn’t only in the United States.  Soon other great agricultural countries produced food surpluses that they shipped all over the world.  Winters still happen.  Droughts still happen.  But they don’t happen everywhere at the same time.  And because we were able to raise crop yields to such high levels we have food available for everyone in the world.  And truck, rail and ships can move that food anywhere it is needed.  Which is why we can drive to our favorite greasy diner or fast food restaurant during a blizzard on the coldest day of winter and enjoy a fresh glass of orange juice, coffee, eggs, hash browns and sausage.  No matter where you live.  As long as you live in a country that supports free trade.

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According to the Climate ‘Scientists’ everything causes Global Warming

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

Droughts are a sign of global warming.  Excessive rains are a sign of global warming.  Little snow fall is a sign of global warming.  Powerful blizzards are a sign of global warming.  Let’s see, what else?  Meteorites threatening the planet are a sign of global warming.  Gun violence is a sign of global warming.  Obesity is a sign of global warming.  And pretty much anything else is a sign of global warming.  Because climate ‘scientists’ and journalists say so (see Climate contradiction: Less snow, more blizzards by Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, posted 2/18/2013 on The Detroit News).

Ten climate scientists say the idea of less snow and more blizzards makes sense: A warmer world is likely to decrease the overall amount of snow falling each year and shrink snow season. But when it is cold enough for a snowstorm to hit, the slightly warmer air is often carrying more moisture, producing potentially historic blizzards.

“Strong snowstorms thrive on the ragged edge of temperature — warm enough for the air to hold lots of moisture, meaning lots of precipitation, but just cold enough for it to fall as snow,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “Increasingly, it seems that we’re on that ragged edge.”

The ragged edge of temperature?  So what this climate ‘scientist’ is telling us is that if it’s too warm it won’t snow.  It will just rain.  They’ve been telling us for DECADES that rising temperatures will melt the Arctic icecap.  Raising the ocean levels.  Swamping our coastal areas.  Causing our farmlands to turn into deserts.  And moving our warmer climes further north.  Keeping the snow further north.   So if temperatures have been rising and pushing the collisions of these hot and cold air masses further north we should be getting less snow in the mid latitudes and more snow in the higher latitudes.  Burying them in snow.  Especially in Canada around the Great Lakes.  Because it’s the same amount of snow but in a smaller area.  Building huge snow masses to provide a long snowmelt to fill those Great Lakes all spring and summer.  Raising their levels to record highs.  It’s a sound theory.  Only one problem.  The Great Lakes are at record lows.

But wait a minute, you say.  What about rain?  The reason it didn’t snow as much in the higher latitudes is because all that moisture fell out of the sky as rain before it got to those higher latitudes.  An excellent point.  Only one problem.  North America suffered one of the worst droughts on record.  Devastating our corn crops.  And raising the price of food across the board.

But wait a minute, you say.  That doesn’t prove anything.  Because of rising temperatures it’s just not precipitating as much.  Less moisture in the air because of higher temperatures means less rain AND less snow.  Another excellent point.  Only one problem.  It has been raining.  A lot.  The UK suffered above average rainfalls this past year.  Sending her rivers over their banks.  And causing some of the worst flooding the UK has ever seen.

But wait a minute, you say.  And I say, enough.  Everything cannot be the result of global warming.  Warmer temperatures and cooler temperatures cannot both be the result of global warming.  Droughts and flooding cannot both be the result of global warming.  Less snowfall and greater blizzards cannot both be the result of global warming.  Every contradictory piece of empirical evidence cannot prove global warming.  Real science doesn’t work that way.  Water freezes at zero degrees Celsius.  And boils at 100 degrees Celsius.  These are distinct states of matter.  And they cannot exist at the same time.  For there are rules in science.  And you can’t keep changing them to prove a theory.

Scientists won’t blame a specific event or even a specific seasonal change on global warming without doing intricate and time-consuming studies. And they say they are just now getting a better picture of the complex intersection of man-made climate change and extreme snowfall.

Then why have we been listening to you for close to three decades now?  Why do we have laws that change the way we live going back decades when you’re only now understanding man-made climate change?  If you were wrong decades ago how do we know you’re right now?

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann points to the recent Northeast storm that dumped more than 30 inches in some places. He said it was the result of a perfect set of conditions for such an event: Arctic air colliding with unusually warm oceans that produced extra large amounts of moisture and big temperature contrasts, which drive storms. Those all meant more energy, more moisture and thus more snow, he said.

Do you know who Michael Mann is?  He’s the guy that created the ‘hockey stick graph’ that supposedly proved global warming.  Temperatures were relatively constant for 900 years.  Then rose.  Giving the shape of a hockey stick.  He took data from tree rings, lake sediments and ice cores and calculated temperatures for the past 1,000 years.  Giving us the hockey stick graph.  But in 2010 some emails came to light showing other climate scientists, Phil Jones, Keith Briffa and others, were not all on board with the hockey stick graph.  Despite the powers that be in climate ‘science’ adopting Mann’s hockey stick (see Controversy behind climate science’s ‘hockey stick’ graph by Fred Pearce posted 2/2/2010 on the guardian).

…Briffa…sent a long and passionate email. “It should not be taken as read that Mike’s series is THE CORRECT ONE,” he warned. “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’, but in reality the situation is not quite so simple… For the record, I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.”

What’s this?  If you take the data beyond the starting point of Michael Mann’s data, back before man was creating any global warming, there was a matching rise in temperature?  Or so said the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit.  So Michael Mann is a guy that likes to look at limited ranges of data.  Just enough to support his hypothesis.  And not too much so it doesn’t refute his hypothesis.  So one cannot help but to take whatever he says with a grain of salt.

So what does all of this mean?  Global warming is more politics than science.  Most of the accepted research was done by people funded by governments that want to take ever more control over the private sector economy.  To increase the size of government.  And to increase tax revenues.  If you don’t believe this consider the volcano.  When they erupt they tend to cool the climate.  Because they put smoke, soot, ash, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.  The same things coal-fired power plants put into the atmosphere.  Yet volcanoes cool the planet.  While coal-fired power plants warm the planet.  Go figure.  Two things doing the same thing.  Yet each producing completely opposite results.  To understand this you have to enter the world where there are square circles.  And intersecting parallel lines.  A place where there are no scientific laws.  Only wild imagination.  For it is a wacky world when it comes to the field of climate ‘science’.

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People beg the EPA to Waive their Ethanol Mandate to lower Food Prices but the EPA Refuses

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 18th, 2012

Week in Review

People suffering from the high price of corn beg the EPA to waive the ethanol mandate.  To use corn for food.  And not for fuel.  To help hungry children in the US.  And around the world.  Whose parents have to pay higher and higher food prices thanks to a reduced corn crop thanks to those droughts this past summer.  The EPA’s response?  Kids are fat enough already and could stand to lose a few pounds.  Figuratively, of course (see EPA rejects request to waive requirements for corn-based ethanol by David Shepardson posted 11/16/2012 on The Detroit News).

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday rejected a request from eight governors and nearly 200 members of Congress to waive requirements for the use of corn-based ethanol in the nation’s 240 million vehicles in the wake of this summer’s severe drought.

The move is a victory for corn farmers that have seen prices jump by 400 percent in recent years, but a loss for pork and beef producers who have seen the price of feed jump…

The EPA said it has not found evidence to support a finding of severe “economic harm” that would warrant granting a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Can you imagine gasoline prices rising 400% and the government saying they see no economic harm in that?  Can you imagine prescriptions prices rising 400% and the government saying they see no economic harm in that?  Can you imagine the cost of health insurance rising 400% and the government saying they see no economic harm in that?  Of course you can’t.  So why do they not see harm in a 400% rise in corn prices?  Could it be because the ethanol lobby supports Democrat candidates and their environmental policies?  And higher corn prices mean more generous campaign donations?  Perhaps.

“We recognize that this year’s drought has created hardship in some sectors of the economy, particularly for livestock producers,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “But our extensive analysis makes clear that congressional requirements for a waiver have not been met and that waiving the RFS will have little, if any, impact…”

In 2011, nearly half the corn grown in the U.S. was diverted to ethanol production to meet the RFS, critics say…

Food producers — including the makers of frozen food and restaurant chains — have criticized the mandates, saying it raises food prices…

The American Coalition for Ethanol praised the decision by the EPA…

The Michigan Farm Bureau had opposed granting the waiver, saying it doesn’t believe keeping the requirements in place “would severely harm the economy of Michigan at this time.” But Michigan poultry and livestock producers are affected by higher corn prices.

The governors of Maryland and Delaware, also home to poultry producers, told the EPA in October that without a waiver they would face “the loss of thousands jobs.” North Carolina, New Mexico, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Utah and Wyoming also had asked EPA to waive the requirements.

The EPA conducted several economic analyses and concluded that on average waiving the mandate would reduce corn prices by 1 percent. EPA also said waiving the mandate would not affect household energy costs.

The Democrats talked a lot about arithmetic during the 2012 campaign.  Saying that simple arithmetic proved that they should raise tax rates on rich people.  Because collecting another 5% or so from high income earners would help balance the budget.  Even though we have trillion dollar deficits.  And the proposed tax rate hikes would bring in nowhere near a trillion dollars.  So it would appear the Democrats are arithmetically challenged.  Which probably explains why they say doubling the corn crop (by eliminating the methanol mandate) will only lower corn prices by 1%.  When doubling the supply of any other commodity in the world would cause the price to collapse.

These are the same people that place import tariffs on foreign made goods to restrict supplies to keep domestic prices high.  These are the same people that accuse other nations of anti-dumping violations for flooding the market with their goods.  Which lowers domestic prices.  So these people seem to believe that increasing supply will lower prices.   Except when it comes to corn.  Even if you double the size of the corn crop.  Amazing.

Of course, it’s about the money.  The corn and ethanol producers are getting rich.  Who are only getting rich because of their friends in government.  Which is the definition of crony capitalism.  Or corruption.  The government interferes with market forces.  So their friends and supporters can get rich.  And share that wealth with their friends in government.

And while the crony capitalists are getting rich the American consumer gets poorer.  As they pay more for corn, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, etc.  Families have to cut back on their grocery budgets.  And cut back on going out.  Because they have less disposable income.  And restaurants have to raise their prices because of the increase in their food costs.  But this is okay as far as the EPA is concerned.  As they put big money political contributions ahead of American families.

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The Drought and Methanol Mandates decimate Corn Crops and High Quality Prime Cuts of Beef

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2012

Week in Review

Restaurants are one of the greatest job creators.  Because there are so many of them.  And if they open for breakfast, lunch and dinner that’s a lot of food servers, chefs, cooks, barkeeps busboys, dish washers, supervisors and managers.  Running a restaurant is hard.  It’s the number one business that fails.  Because margins can be thin.  And the amount of competition great.  But the people who mortgage their homes to open up a restaurant put a lot of people through college.  Gave single parents flexible hours to work around their kids schedules.  And let some people just do what they love.  Work with people.  Create great food.  And provide exceptional service.

This recession has been hard on restaurant owners.  As eating out is one of the first expenses a family cuts in their family budget.  Now things are going to get even harder (see Peter Luger Steak Prices May Soar as Drought Culls Herds by Peter S. Green and Esmé E. Deprez posted 8/21/2012 on Bloomberg).

The worst Midwest drought since 1956 has scorched crops and sent the price of corn, the main ingredient in livestock feed, up 62.8 percent since mid-June. Ranchers are culling herds to avoid feed costs, flooding the market with cheap supplies of beef.

There’s a parallel decline in the quantity of animals that yield the highest-quality prime cuts, which require months of extra feeding. The shift will be felt in steakhouse menus down the road.

So prices will go up and the quality of the meat will go down.  Which raise the prices on their menus.  And drive patrons away.  Because they, too, are facing higher costs in their lives.  And they can’t afford to pay more for less.

The drought prompted President Barack Obama to help farmers with $170 million in government meat purchases.

“We’ve got a lot of freezers,” Obama told a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Aug. 13. The government is also considering cuts to ethanol mandates after livestock producers complained that too much grain is being diverted to make fuel.

“We’ve got a lot of freezers.”  The government has trillion dollar deficits in all four years of Obama’s presidency and he’s still spending money that he doesn’t have.  Which isn’t very smart.  And will do little.  For how is buying this meat going to solve the problem everyone is having in the food industry?  The high price of feed corn?

Why not just do the easy thing?  The thing that doesn’t increase the debt?  Don’t consider cutting methanol mandates.  Do it.  Cut them all.  Eliminate every last one.  Let gasoline be gasoline.  And food be food.  If we don’t divert 40% of the corn crop to the methanol industry that will nearly double the corn crop.  Now that would make an impact that would go a long way in lowering food prices for every American.  From eggs to chicken to milk to cheese to hamburger to prime cut steaks.  Lower prices for everyone.  And more economic activity.  From the extra money households don’t have to spend on groceries.  So they can go out during the week for dinner and a movie.  Helping all those restaurants.  And all the people who work in them.

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Energy/Environmental Policies requiring Ethanol cause Hunger and Economic Devastation throughout the World

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 4th, 2012

Week in Review

As if the Great Recession wasn’t bad enough already.  Bad economic policies and bad regulatory policies have already beaten this economy into the ground.  And now the government is going to pile on with bad energy/environmental policies.  Making the American people say “ouch” (see Corn for Food, Not Fuel by COLIN A. CARTER and HENRY I. MILLER posted 7/30/2012 on The New York Times).

…By suspending renewable-fuel standards that were unwise from the start, the Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain, where market forces and common sense dictate it should go.

The drought has now parched about 60 percent of the contiguous 48 states. As a result, global food prices are rising steeply. Corn futures prices on the Chicago exchange have risen about 60 percent since mid-June, hitting record levels, and other grains such as wheat and soybeans are also sharply higher. Livestock and dairy product prices will inevitably follow.

More than one-third of our corn crop is used to feed livestock. Another 13 percent is exported, much of it to feed livestock as well. Another 40 percent is used to produce ethanol. The remainder goes toward food and beverage production.

Previous droughts in the Midwest (most recently in 1988) also resulted in higher food prices, but misguided energy policies are magnifying the effects of the current one. Federal renewable-fuel standards require the blending of 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol with gasoline this year. This will require 4.7 billion bushels of corn, 40 percent of this year’s crop.

Almost half (40%) of our corn goes to produce ethanol.  That alone has raised the price of our food.  And a lot of our food has corn in it.  Including cows.  As in corn-fed beef.  Dairy cows, too, eat corn.  They give us milk and cheese.  Chickens eat corn.  Providing us with low-fat chicken breasts.  Eggs.  And those delicious Chicken McNuggets our kids love.  Our energy/environmental policies have been increasing the cost of groceries for families.  And the drought is only going to increase them more.  Making it ever harder for the American family to put food on the table.  Especially when a lot of them are struggling to get by on less thanks to an already bad economy.  So why do we use food to fuel our cars?  Because the government has dictated that we do.

The price of corn is a critical variable in the world food equation, and food markets are on edge because American corn supplies are plummeting. The combination of the drought and American ethanol policy will lead in many parts of the world to widespread inflation, more hunger, less food security, slower economic growth and political instability, especially in poor countries…

Any defense of the ethanol policy rests on fallacies, primarily these: that ethanol produced from corn makes the United States less dependent on fossil fuels; that ethanol lowers the price of gasoline; that an increase in the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline increases the overall supply of gasoline; and that ethanol is environmentally friendly and lowers global carbon dioxide emissions.

The ethanol lobby promotes these claims, and many politicians seem intoxicated by them. Corn is indeed a renewable resource, but it has a far lower yield relative to the energy used to produce it than either biodiesel (such as soybean oil) or ethanol from other plants. Ethanol yields about 30 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, so mileage drops off significantly. Finally, adding ethanol actually raises the price of blended fuel because it is more expensive to transport and handle than gasoline.

Ethanol isn’t what they say it is.  In fact it makes a pretty poor fuel.  And it will propagate hunger and economic devastation throughout the rest of the world.  Especially in poor countries.  So there is no good reason to use food to fuel our cars.  It would appear the only reason why the government dictates this policy is that the lobbyists make it worth their while to dictate this policy.  Amazing what you can get away with when you veil your special interests in the cloak of environmentalism.  The media and the court of public opinion eviscerate any non-environmental corporation for doing what the ethanol lobby does.  But if you want to make evil profits all you have to do is say ‘global warming’ and no one will fault you for your greed.

Families will have to cut out their visits to McDonalds as these high prices hit pretty much everything on their menu.  Which is an unintended consequence the government may actually like.  For they say our kids are too fat.  But this won’t make our kids happy.  They like their McNuggets.  Which can mean only one thing.  Our government hates kids.

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Famine, Crop Yields, Food Surpluses, Irrigation, Plow, Crop Rotation, Cultivars, Fertilizers, Pesticides, Tractor, Railroad and Ships

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 23rd, 2012

Technology 101

Because of Advances in Farming Fewer People could Grow more Food

Cold weather kills people.  A lot of people throughout history have died during winters as they exhausted their food supplies.  That’s why preparing for the winter was serious business.  You had to store enough food to carry you through the winter.  And if the fall harvests were poor it spelled big trouble.  And famine.  It’s hard to imagine what this was like.  A long winter ahead of you with an insufficient food supply.  It was scary.  For it meant some people would die before the spring came.  Hard to fathom this in a day where you can actually drive your car through a blizzard to your favorite greasy diner or fast food restaurant for a delicious hot meal to take off the chill of the coldest winter day.  It wasn’t always like this.

And it wasn’t only long winters that killed people.  Sometimes the long summers did.  Where there were insufficient rains.  And drought.  That destroyed crops and drastically reduced fall harvests.  You don’t hear much about famine these days in the U.S, Canada, Britain, France, Germany or other advanced nations.  But underdeveloped and impoverished nations suffer famine to this day.  Why?  Two primary reasons.  Improved crop yields.  And improved transportation.  The advanced nations have them.  The impoverished nations don’t.

Improved crop yields create food surpluses.  Key to civilization itself.  Food surpluses allowed a middle class to arise because everyone did not have to grow food.  Because of advances in farming fewer people could grow more food. Those who didn’t have to grow food could think about other things.  Including ways to further improve crop yields.  By creating better tools.  Better techniques.  Better food storage.  And when you do all of these things you not only have enough food for yourself and for your surplus you have enough to export.  To those who do not have enough food.  Even allowing people to live in areas that cannot produce food.  For they can trade for food.  Thanks to these surpluses available for export.

Food is so Plentiful and Inexpensive Today that the Problem in America is not Famine but Obesity

Early farms relied on the fertile soil of river banks.  The spring flooding of the rivers raised river levels.  When the water retreated it left behind fertile soil.  Eventually we learned how to take control of our water resources.  And used it to make fertile land away from river banks.  Using irrigation.  Bringing the water to the land.  Probably the next great development was the plow.  Which let us take control of the land.  We tilled the soil to aerate it.  To control weeds.  To mix in organic material.  Such as manure.  To prepare it for planting.  And we used irrigation to bring those crops to harvest. 

We then developed crop rotation to replenish nitrogen in the soil.  And to control pests.  Certain pests attack certain crops.  By rotating crops pest infestation couldn’t spread and return year after year.  Families of crops need certain nutrients.  Rotation prevents the depletion of any single nutrient.  Then we took control of the plants we grew.  By creating new plants.  Cultivars.  Using selective breeding to increase grain size, the number of grains per plant, improve disease resistance, etc. 

Then we turned to chemistry.  Creating fertilizers.  And pesticides.  These two advancements alone exploded crop yields.  Never before did so few grow so much with so little.  We maximized the agricultural potential of land year after year.  And then we mechanized the farm.  Introducing the tractor.  Allowing the same number of farmers to cultivate more land.  So not only did their existing lands yield more they added more high-yield lands to explode yields.  Creating huge food surpluses available for export.  And slashing the price of food across the board.  From the bread we make from wheat.  To corn-fed beef.  Food is so plentiful and inexpensive today that the problem in America is not famine but obesity.  Obesity is bad but it takes a lot longer to die from obesity than it does from famine.  And we enjoy all of those delicious things that are making us so fat.  While there’s nothing to enjoy when starving to death. 

We were able to Raise Crop Yields to such High Levels we have Food Available for Everyone in this World

As crop yields increased more food entered the market.  Good for people.  But bad for farmers.  Because they depressed crop prices.  Large farms that cultivated more land could still make a profit.  But the small farmer who didn’t cultivate more land just saw his revenue fall.  Until his revenue fell below his costs.  Leaving him unable to service the debt he incurred to mechanize his farm.  Causing bankruptcy.  Which happened a lot in the Thirties.  Causing all those bank runs during the Great Depression.

To fight this free fall in crop prices countries enacted tariffs and import restrictions.  The British Corn Laws kept out the less expensive foreign food so the landowning aristocracy could maximize their profits.  And when the British repealed the Corn Laws and adopted free trade everything the landowning aristocracy feared happen.  Food became inexpensive and plentiful.  In large part because of the United States.  Who was maximizing their crop yields.  And then using the railroad to ship their surpluses to the great rivers.  The Ohio.  The Missouri.  The Mississippi.  Where they loaded these surpluses onto steamships.  Where it traveled down the Mississippi to the Port of New Orleans.  Where they transferred it to ocean-going sail ships and steamers.  Bound for Europe.  And Britain.  Where this food fed hungry people.  And cut into the profits of the wealthy landowners.

But it wasn’t only in the United States.  Soon other great agricultural countries produced food surpluses that they shipped all over the world.  Winters still happen.  Droughts still happen.  But they don’t happen everywhere at the same time.  And because we were able to raise crop yields to such high levels we have food available for everyone in the world.  And truck, rail and ships can move that food anywhere it is needed.  Which is why we can drive to our favorite greasy diner or fast food restaurant during a blizzard on the coldest day of winter and enjoy a fresh glass of orange juice, coffee, eggs, hash browns and sausage.  No matter where you live.  As long as you live in a country that supports free trade.

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