As if the increasing price of gas were not enough, we now face an increase in food prices. For Americans, this is mostly an inconvenience: we still have far too much food, but will need to pay more for it. Perhaps this might have a silver lining-the higher cost of food might help Americans shed some of that famous American fat.
For other parts of the world, the food problem is a matter of survival. While people are, sadly, always starving, there are even more people suffering with each day.
Part of the problem is linked to the cost of oil. Oil plays a huge role in food production and transportation. Hence, the increase in oil prices leads quickly to a rise in food prices. Also linked into oil is the fact that food crops, such as corn, are being foolishly used as fuel. The reason why it is foolish is because this merely serves to drive up the price of food and it is often not energy efficient. For example, some experts claim that turning corn into biofuel results in a energy loss (it takes more fossil fuel energy to produce the fuel than the energy the fuel yields).
The way to deal with this problem is to find ways to produce the energy needed in a cheaper manner. There are many proposals and efforts on underway. Perhaps they might even work someday.
Another part of the problem is weather. Some people link this to global warming (which takes us back to oil and other fossil fuels again). In any case, the weather has not been ideal for producing food. Hence, this leads to more shortages.
If our actions are affecting the weather, then perhaps we can take steps to mitigate this. Further, we can continue to develop improved means of food production that will be less affected by the weather.
A third part of the problem is poor decision making. To take one example, Zimbabwe once was an exporter of food. However, the leader of the country, Mugabe, decided it would be a good idea to seize land from white farmers and turn the land over to veterans. He did this, presumably, in the hopes of maintaining his support and thus his power. Unfortunately for the people, the veterans who were given the stolen farms did not know how to raise food. Not surprisingly, food production plummeted and now starvation is a serious problem. The West, is, of course, expected to help out with the food crisis. But, the solution seems to be clear in this case-the land must be returned to those who can do a competent job.
Dealing with the human element is, as always, very challenging. In contrast, technical problems are much easier. I am sure that we will be able to develop effective alternative energy and better crops long before we can find a cure for such bad decision making.