Boycott biofuels and ban speculation…. that is if you believe in humanity

The world is currently facing one of the worst food crisis in recorded human history…. it is at a boiling point but it can spill over at anytime.

Retail staple food prices have seen record inflation of up to 300% in the last three years across the world resulting in more and more people struggling to eat even once a day.

No.. it is not a doomsday scenario.. this is happening now and what we are seeing is an utter disregard from humanity .. almost 20% of crops in the US in now being harvested for bio-fuels which means 20% less crops for human consumption..

“Rice — a staple for billions of Asians — has soared to its highest price in 20 years, while supplies are at their lowest level since the early 1980s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, the global supply of wheat is lower than it’s been in about 50 years — just five weeks’ worth of world consumption is on hand, according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization. ”  (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717572,00.html)

It is funny that people have been supporting bio-fuels which, currently, can only be produced by substituting food supply so the food that needs to go into people’s stomach is going into vehicles.. Okay… the situation is not dire but we are not far off. It is time to say No to bio-fuels, at least for now.

On the other hand, Oil speculators who have pushed the prices of oil from a stable $60 to $70 barrels to atrocious $105+ a barrel are minting money. There is literally no shortage of oil but these speculators made sure that they pushed the prices by going long on the market and continue to push these to maintain their profits. 

It’s not the oil speculators alone – “As always in a crisis, there are winners. The creeping fear that the world might actually run short of food — no longer simply the stuff of sci-fi movies — has led speculators to pour billions into commodities, further accelerating price rises. In a single day in February, global wheat prices jumped 25% after Kazakhstan’s government announced plans to restrict exports of its giant wheat crop for fear that its own citizens might go hungry” (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717572,00.html)

As oil drives all transportation costs, everything is getting expensive including drilling and exploration costs for oil companies which in turn means no body in the oil industry wants to lose. But at the bottom of it, it is the speculators who are the culprit.

And with increasing transportation costs, the costs of bringing crops to the markets is skyrocketing.. prices of fertilisers is skyrocketing… which means increased costs of grain.

If oil speculation is banned for a few years, oil prices are going to drop to $50 – $60 dollars… I have no doubt but who is going to do it..  It is such a shame.

“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned on Friday that the food import bill for the world’s poorest countries will increase 56 per cent this year and civil unrest will increase if the international community doesn’t act vigorously to help. The World Bank recently estimated the food crisis will erase seven years of progress in reducing poverty in developing countries. Already, high food prices – the prices of wheat and rice are double what they were last year – have sparked riots in diverse hot spots around the world, including several African countries, Indonesia and Haiti.  Unlike famine in places like the Ethiopia, this situation is dispersed across the globe, from Asia to Africa to Latin America. FAO estimates 37 countries face food crises this year, requiring outside assistance for various reasons. The high price of oil is contributing to increased food prices and boosting inflation elsewhere in many economies.”(http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/yourbusiness/story.html?id=21cdf43a-5cf7-4054-b65a-a2e995b21605)

Unless action is taken, many people will die of hunger and food riots….  Take action, show your responsibility and boycott bio fuels as a start.

“In India last year, more than 25,000 farmers took their own lives, driven to despair by grain shortages and farming debts. “The spectre of food grain imports stares India in the face as agricultural growth plunges to an all-time low,” warns India Today magazine.” (http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2104849.0.2008_the_year_of_global_food_crisis.php)

People.. wake up now! Criminal speculation of commodities must be banned.. and stop using and advancing biofuels……. Give humanity a break!

More than 50 dead in Karachi

More than 50 people have died in Karachi due to rain in one day. …  Karachi being one of the biggest cities of the world is in such a mess…… it is one of the glaring examples of massive corruption of public funds in Pakistan…

Newly  developed roads and underpasses have been washed away…… not because Karachi is facing floods…. but because of poor construction material used by contractors in connivance with governement officials…

A really sad state of affairs indeed.

Pakistan’s disappearing delta areas

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Keti Bandar, southern Pakistan

 

Keti Bandar was once a thriving river port in the Indus river delta region in southern Pakistan, with impressive public buildings, a customs office and warehouses for exports. Today, it can barely stay above water.

Sea waves lash against its protective embankments on three sides, leaving only a thin, 2km long isthmus by way of a land bridge to the mainland.

And the water levels keep rising.

Two years ago, the high tide barely came up to the ruins of a rice mill located just outside the town. Now that has been completely submerged.

Before

Before

After

After

Crumbling pillars

“The tide will ebb, but it will come back with greater force. Two more years, and the whole town will be under water,” said Bachal Khanejo, a local boatman.

 

While there is still time to save Keti, the town of Kharo Chhan, about 20 minutes drive east, has reached the point of no return.

“In 1946, it was a part of the mainland,” says Abdullah Murgher, a local farmer. It is now an island, about 30 minutes’ boat ride from the shore.

The signs of a prosperous past are still visible, such as the crumbling pillars of a vast villa that belonged to a Hindu village head.

But all that remains on the island today are a few hundred fishermen’s huts, made of straw-mat walls and thatched roofs.

Both Keti and Kharo Chhan have been important towns on one of the world’s nine largest delta regions.

Over the millennia, the Indus river cut some 17 major and numerous minor creeks in the region as it disgorged into the Arabian Sea in the south.

Delta degradation

The soft mud plates between the creeks, enriched by hundreds of millions of metric tones of silt load carried down by the river each year, were the most fertile in Sindh province.

The 1921 British Imperial Gazette for Sindh cites the chief produce of the delta region as rice paddy, bananas, camels, charcoal and timber. Wool and fish products were also produced in large quantities.

Until 1935, cargo boats regularly sailed up the Ochito Creek to Keti harbour from where they collected products for export to the Middle East.

Over the subsequent decades, an uglier face of change started to reveal itself all across the delta region.

“It came about when a huge irrigation infrastructure, built upstream in the Punjab province, started drawing water from the Indus and its four tributaries,” says Abdul Majid Qazi, a former senator, engineer and expert on water issues.

The first major irrigation canal on the Indus river system was built by the British in the Punjab in 1859. Five more canals were built between 1885 and 1914.

In Sindh province, three barrages were built between 1932 and 1962.

In 1960s, two of the Indus tributaries were apportioned to India under a water treaty, and two major dams were built on the remaining rivers with another network of canals supplying water to the Punjab.

Saline desert

Some experts from the Punjab dispute the view that irrigation works caused degradation of the delta, arguing that it is a natural process.

Since the mid-1980s, farmers in Punjab have carried out an aggressive campaign for a third major dam on Indus to meet the growing food and power shortages in the country.

But most experts, including those of International Conservation Union and the World Wildlife Fund, believe the delta’s woes are linked to the “over-extraction” of water for agriculture.

They cite various reports of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) that show that river flows into the delta decreased from around 80 million acre feet (Maf) in 1947 to less than 10 Maf during the 1990s.

During 2001-02, the flows dropped to as low as 0.72 Maf and 1.9 Maf respectively.

They believe that as the river flows diminished, the sea waters ran up the creeks and waterways of the entire delta region, turning its lush green fields into a grey, saline desert.

Since then, sea intrusion has turned millions of acres of the delta region into a vast saline wasteland, destroyed its rich mangrove forests and causing massive land erosion.

“More than 160 settlements, spread over 1.3m acres of delta, have been lost to the sea since 1970,” said Nadir Akmal Leghari, the Sindh Minister for Irrigation.

Sea intrusion has also turned the ground water brackish, while the canals that used to draw water from the river remain dry for most of the year.

This has caused a widespread shortage of drinking water, and forced women to walk for miles in the hope of finding a puddle in a dry canal bed.

Meanwhile, the shrinking of pastures have caused livestock and poultry numbers in the region to dwindle from 227,000 in 1991 to less than 80,000 in 2000, a government report says.

No figures are available for population displacement, but local people say that those who have stayed on are either too poor to contemplate migration, or just don’t want to leave a place where they were born and raised.

Ibrahim Soomro, the 80-year-old ironsmith of Kharo Chhan island, is one such person.

“I remember the times when this area was a lush green heaven. Then it started to change. There was salt water all around us. For a time we thought it will get better. Then we got used to it.”

Published: 2007/08/03 23:10:56 GMT