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Crappy Thanksgiving in the Slow Motion Apocalypse
November 25, 2020
by William P. Meyers

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Grain Shortages, Pandemic, Ecological Collapse

My wife and I will eat Thanksgiving dinner together, but otherwise alone. That is despite four family members living near us. Jan had originally offered to feed everyone. Paranoia runs deep, and in this case paranoia is, indeed, knowing all the facts. Jan's son will pick up his turkey from us. Normally a theater lighting designer, the theaters are closed so he works for a Deli, including driving around delivering food. His ex-wife, the opera singer, now sings for video cameras rather than live. The granddaughter does school virtually. The other grandmother in the area is a tech worker who rarely leaves her apartment except to walk her dog. And we, Jan and I, have our dog Hugo, who will be delighted at the endless supply of leftover turkey.

As part of my former paid work I used to follow things most people don't, including fertilizer production and various aspects of farming and shipping. I still check into those matters on occasion, since it is easy when you know where to look. And this week I found that we are in a global grain shortage. Something that was bound to happen sooner or later in this slow-motion Apocalypse. Allow me to paint you a picture.

There was a derecho in the American midwest On August 10, 2020. It destroyed crops, especially in Iowa, known for its corn and soybeans. In itself that would not be that big of a deal on a global scale, as almost every year there is at least a partial failure somewhere or other in the world. This year, however, massive tropical storms also hit southern China. China is both one of the largest grain producers in the world and one of the largest importers of grain. It is currently buying all the grain it can on world markets, to make up for the local shortage and to rebuild pork production. Pork production fell dramatically in China two years ago due to disease.

So on top of the pandemic, and the global recession, grain prices are higher and there are almost certain to be shortages come 2021. That means higher prices for most foods you buy, and that people around the world buy. For the most part there are no longer world food stockpiles. The world eats the following year the harvest of the previous year.

So expect a lot more people around the world to go hungry in 2021. An extra dollar a day is nothing to most Americans, but can mean starvation in the third world. Leftist pundits will decry capitalist profit making, poor distribution, and first-world people eating meat instead of tofu. But they (most of them) will ignore the real problem. The global sustainable human population is about 1 billion people. There are almost 8 billion people alive right now.

That does not mean billions of people will starve in the next few years. But the stress on the global environment from all those people does mean the food production system is almost certain to get sicker and sicker as the years roll by. Food production has already preempted most natural ecosystems anywhere enough water can be found. Modern food production relies on fertilizer and mechanization and hence vast amounts of energy that are not going to come from renewable energy. It also requires stable, predictable weather patterns. Not global warming, not widespread droughts, not winds that knock over corn, not rains that flood agricultural regions.

A sane global civilization would institute a one-child policy (one child per two adults) now. Then again, a sane global civilization would have instituted a one-child policy in 1960. Simply giving women access to contraceptives is not enough, though in some areas of the world, and in some subcultures (even in the US) women are denied contraceptives. A one child policy would allow the global human population to decline to sustainable levels in four generations, though it might take centuries for the globe to recover from peak human infestation.

While the Biden/Harris administration may be a considerable improvement over Trump/Pence, I do not expect it to do what really needs to be done unless the public wakes up and demands action. It is relatively easy to build more solar and wind power generation because that creates jobs and builds the economy. But it does not significantly alter the fundamental equations that are destroying the earth. And yes, it has to be global. Instead of looking to model themselves on American consumerism, people around the world must learn to be happy in ways that do not harm the planet.

The Slow Motion Apocalypse is coming to get us. In the words of the immortal Pogo, "I have seen the enemy, and it is us." There is a sane, civilized path to safety, but it involves sterilizing the kind of people who won't wear masks during a pandemic. I prefer persuasion to force, but given the choice between forced sterilizations and the end of the very ecosystem that supports all life, give me the power to sterilize.

Couples who have one or fewer children should be put on a level economic playing field with over-breeders. How about a $5,000 per woman of fertile age tax credit? The same size for all families. Nothing extra for children, whether you have none or ten.

It is time to re-adopt the old slogan: No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth. But we should be smarter in how we act on this slogan. Working through governments is hard, but it is the only way to mobilize people on the global scale sufficient to meet the very real, if slow-motion crisis.

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