It is no surprise to any of our readers that, to put it lightly, the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Gas prices, temperatures, and natural disasters are all on the rise. The Earth has a pretty clear carrying capacity that everyone in power chooses to ignore for the sake of convenience. Like it or not, we have to be prepared for the consequences of each action that our leaders don’t take.
If there are days when living off the grid seems a troublesome or exhausting task, it is important to remember that in addition to whichever individual factors caused your family to choose this lifestyle, you have chosen the most conscientious and reliable way to live in a future that is so marred by uncertainty. As the stability of crops sinks and prices rise accordingly, it is more important than ever that you are able to depend upon your family and your own efforts to feed, clothe, and power your daily needs.
What Is The problem?
The most important risk facing the United States and every individual living on the planet is the ongoing and continually worsening drought from which we are suffering. Drought is one of the most disastrous risk factors for our water supply, our food supply, and our public health. Over half the United States was in some state of moderate or extreme drought in June 2012, according to National Climatic Data Center statistics. The United States hadn’t seen a drought percentage that high since 1956, and it doesn’t bode well for future years.
Texas just suffered (and have only technically emerged from) the worst drought since the 1800s. Rivers and lakes in Texas suffered drastically, falling far below normal levels. Mimicked across the country, rivers and lakes lost millions of fish as the heat and drought made their natural habitats untenable to continue to live in. It might be difficult to isolate exactly how far reaching the impact of the drought was, so take a simple example. The trees you find in cities like Austin? 5.6 million of them died over the course of the drought, costing the state over $560 million. That’s not an easy loss to recover from, especially considering the huge health benefits, among others, that such trees yield.
Losing Corn Crops
Corn is one of our most important crops, as it is a major ingredient in almost every mass produced good in the country. If you have ever driven a car, brushed your teeth, taken aspirin, built a home (using drywall), or used glue, you have depended on a corn-based product beyond the corn-based food products you encounter every day. Lest you think the problems we are facing with corn crops affect only the unlucky residents of the United States, remember that we export more corn than anyone else in the world. With both our corn yields and exports dropping, it is important that each family begins to stockpile and prepare for a (very near) future in which there will be no corn left to export, with barely enough to meet our domestic needs.
U.S. corn reserves are the lowest they have been in fifteen years, and with such drastic reductions in corn production, it is unlikely that we will be able to replace the reserves. Not only was 2012 the third year in a row that we saw such a decline in corn production, but also about half of the corn that was produced was in such poor condition that it wasn’t usable for many of the industries that depend on quality corn production. Meat prices, for example, will continue to rise as feed becomes scarcer to find and more expensive to finance. It is not just that crops in one year are suffering; permanent damage is being done to farmland that will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse with our current resources.
As our ability to produce corn fades away, prices skyrocket. Corn prices rose by more than 62 percent in just one summer, maxing out at over $8 a bushel in 2012. The effect that corn prices have on every major goods industry as well as the overall economy is not to be understated. The price of most food will rise, and that provides a fantastic case for continuing to grow, produce, and store your own food. Families in most developing countries spend about 75 percent of their monthly income on food. In the United States, a family of four living under the Federal Poverty Level has an average of $4.23 to spend on food per person per day. Were the price of corn to continue to skyrocket, each of these families would be increasingly unable to stretch their meager budgets to provide for their families. The reality is that the U.N. has recorded a 17 percent increase in the cost of cereal, and a 12 percent increase in the price of sugar. Families who depend on cheap staples will not be able to feed their families.
Ethanol Standards And The Problems They Cause
It seems logical that there would be safeguards in place to prevent such a drought from immediately impacting the country in such a harsh way. While that is true (after all, we, at one point, had generous corn reserves), even our reserves are suffering. Many who carefully examine the status quo will point to new government ethanol requirements as the source of much angst, and they would be correct. Current government standards require that gasoline production includes 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol, something that funnels almost 40 percent of the corn that we have managed to produce in recent years off to the petrol industry, rather than be used for mass production, food, exports, and animal feed. One analyst from New England Complex Systems Institute, Yaneer Bar-Yam, notes that “given the possibility of price-driven famines, burning corn for cars is unconscionable.”
Without a reversal in these governmental regulations, whether we will emerge from the drought with our infrastructure unharmed or in serious harm is still up for debate.
Will The Drought Continue?
The worst news is that neither scientists nor farmers believe that things are going to turn around anytime soon. Jake Crouch, a NDCC climatologist, predicted that the drought could expand and worsen; after the two worst droughts since the Dust Bowl years, it is almost impossible to suppose that the drought will quickly ease up. Without massive overhauls of our farming, production, and consumption habits as well as government policies, there is absolutely no foreseeable solution to prevent ongoing damage to our crops, our livelihoods, and our health.
It seems like a huge jump from no rain to a revolution, but in Egypt, for example, the drought followed a relatively predictable pattern and resulted in a complete government overthrow. I’m not suggesting that the United States federal government is likely to be overturned, but you should consider that political stability always depends on factors that Washington simply cannot control. In Egypt, food prices jumped 37% from 2008 to 2010, leading to huge political protests and regional instability. It is not unthinkable that protests manned in the same huge numbers as Occupy Wall Street would spring up across the country in response to skyrocketing food prices. Are you prepared for food protests? Encountering huge crowds and unrest whenever you do venture to the store for staple ingredients?
That is exactly the kind of thing that you are likely to encounter in a country that will soon be overwhelmed by rising costs – in almost every industry.
©2013 Off the Grid News