III Publishing

How Will People Act When There Is No Food In The USA?
February 13, 2023
by William P. Meyers

Site Search

Popular pages:

U.S. War Against Asia
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Natural Liberation

Planning for Famine

Today, possibly already, it is highly probable that Antarctic Sea Ice will be at its lowest since records began to be taken. It is summer in the Antarctic. Meanwhile, it is late winter in the Arctic Ocean, and the expansion of sea ice seems to have come to a halt early, marking a record low for this time of year.

I do not base my guesstimate that the chances of food shortages, up to famine, in the U.S.A. are 20% for 2024 and then will creep higher from there, on the above sea ice statistic. But this statistic does reinforce my conviction that temperatures will continue to rise and affect crops in the U.S. and around the world. The overall effects have been largely hidden from the general public because of the global nature of food production, and even because of the relatively large size of the U.S. itself. Right now there is a bumper wheat crop in Australia. Last fall Canada had a good wheat crop, which eased the pain of the small U.S. wheat crop. But both wholesale wheat grain and retail flour prices have approximately doubled in this last year. There is famine in Somalia and parts of Ethiopia and Pakistan.

Before contemplating how people in the U.S. will react to severe food shortages, let me paint a picture for those who are not up on agricultural production trends in the U.S. There is no way of knowing whether a coming year's crop will be bad, below average, average, above average, or excellent. That is true in the nation as a whole, and in any given region. But it is possible to follow trends, and the trend is bad. If the downward trend accelerates enough in any given year, there will be severe food shortages or even famine. We have extensive drought west of the Mississippi River, which could get better or worse any given year. We have heat domes. If these heat dome occur at crucial crop development times, crops will fail, even irrigated crops. If there is a heat dome over Kansas, our state with the highest wheat production, and over Iowa, which our highest corn and soy production, in a single year, we will be in trouble. Unless we can buy enough grain on the international markets. Take a look at a map. Kansas and Iowa are not that far apart. A single heat dome could encompass both states and considerable surrounding agricultural areas.

By the way, there are no significant reserves. We would likely halt exports, but that would not suffice. Americans eat essentially everything we grow each year. We import a lot of food, particularly from Mexico and Canada.

So let's just walk through a scenario where there is, for example, only 30% of the food that is normally available. We would hope that the harvest the following year would be back to normal, so we need to muddle through a year on 30% of our normal calories and protein.

Best case scenario, the government (national or local) immediately steps in and starts rationing. I don't see that as likely. But we have an obesity problem in the U.S. By giving like rations to everyone, the obese would be forced to slim down, with an overall healthy effect. But the same rations would be devastating to a thin or healthy weight person. Would the thin fight for their right to live? Would the obese fight for the right to their normal excessive food consumption? The wealthier classes would likely be able to bid for food, those on government food handouts would likely be given their usual rations. It is the ordinary working folk who would likely have the most trouble getting food. Some survivalists would likely dig into their apocalypse supplies, and people would try to grow food themselves, but those behaviors would have only marginal effects.

There was hunger during the Great Depression, particularly the first couple of years before the government intervened in the markets. The last true, wide scale famine in the U.S. was during the Civil War and was not due to weather, but to a combination of war crimes committed by the Union (like Sherman's March to the Sea) and the general chaos of war. There were only about 32 million Americans then. Now there are 330 million of us. We can look at the past to give us guidance to how people will behave in a famine, but there are many complicating factors that make any prediction questionable.

Some parents will deny themselves to feed their children. Other parents will not give children their rations, or will favor one child over another. Some people will abide by the law, whatever it is. Others will cheat, that is their way of life, and even steal food from others. Overall people may be too tired and dispirited for large scale violence. But opportunists will try to whip people up, to grab food or power or both. It could get really ugly. Don't even think about pets.

I think it would be the second year in a row that pops the veneer of civilization off of many people. At some point people start to die. When you see people die, and you think I want to live, the rules of the road change. The strong and the clever take from the weak and the stupid, if they can. Community become much more important: will your community protect you, or will your community sacrifice you? Will people behave badly when policing stops? History says mostly yes.

If the food supply chain breaks down, then other supply chains are likely to break down. Food does not process itself or transport itself. People too starved to work means that factories and offices stop working.

Farmers tend to be resilient. They will plant again after a bad year, or two bad years, or three bad years. Even if they only harvest 10% of 20% of their normal crop, it will be very valuable. But if they cannot get electricity, gasoline, or parts for their machinery, that would devastate production.

In the almost-worst-case scenario, the population will decline to match the food available. Same as it always was.

My advice to government is to stop having corn converted to fuel for cars, have farmers plant the kind that is edible to humans, and fill up the warehouses. But I can think of no case in which the government has listened to my advice.

Best of luck to you all. Despite the problematic Spring Wheat outlook, there will more than likely (80% estimated probability) be the usual amount of food available in 2024.

III Blog list of articles
Copyright 2023 William P. Meyers. All rights reserved.