Food Crisis Cycles & Soil Erosion
11/28/15 INSIIDE Track: Outlook 2015–2017
40-Year Cycle & Food Crises IV
In recent months, we have re-examined a topic that has been discussed the past 3–5 years – that of an impending (expected) Food Crisis in 2016–2017 (potentially extending into 2019)… directly linked to the uncanny 40-Year Cycle.
This could take MANY forms, as a review of past phases (of that 40-Year Cycle) can attest.
One example is that of cold/frost/freezes, with a very noteworthy example occurring in 1816–1819 (triggered by the Year Without a Summer in 1816).
Another – more common – example has to do with drought and/or excessive heat. Even this can take multiple forms, with recent U.S. examples being in 1936–1939 (Dust Bowl) and 1976–1977 (California Drought). At the same time, corresponding Food Crises were also striking other parts of the globe.
Ironically, the opposite (climate) extreme could do just as much damage – too much precipitation and/or moisture. Not only can flooding delay plantings or delay harvests, it can also facilitate the growth of various fungi – like the diverse forms of Wheat rust that necessitate constant vigilance. Already, El Nino 2015/2016 forecasts are for increasing flooding in parts of S. America.
Distribution disruptions could be another. What if flooding – or the opposite – disrupts shipping of crops? Since this discussion is half-extrapolation (of current challenges) & half-postulation, it should not be carried too far.
Dust Bowl Redux?
There is always a complex challenge when analyzing cycles of this nature. The first is to identify those cycles and their likely ramifications (in very general terms). The more complicated part is beginning to speculate on possible specifics. Due to its broader approach, the former has a much better chance at success than the latter.
With that in mind, it is important to at least discuss a few possibilities that could fulfill the potential for a Food Crisis in 2016/2017–2019 (and potentially into 2021).
Last month, I touched on some of the evidence that ‘super-pests’ are developing in the US Plains and could ultimately present a serious challenge for Corn farmers. There are related ‘super-bugs’(including fungi, rust, etc.) that could impact Wheat farming in the coming years.
However, I want to briefly address another evolving problem that is like so many of the others – manageable for years & years, perhaps decades & decades… until it reaches a tipping point. This one has to do with the foundation of all farming (except hydroponic): DIRT.
More specifically, it has to do with topsoil.
While most observers would speculate that nothing like the Dust Bowl (most damaging in 1936–1941 – 80 years ago) could occur again, it is important to remember that history resembles itself (NOT repeats itself).
During the droughts & crop shortages of the 1850’s & 1890’s, it was observed that the erosion of topsoil in the Midwest/Upper Plains (US) was a developing problem. It reached its ‘tipping point’ in the late-1930’s – re-affirming the 40-Year Cycle. Let’s review the progression of agriculture in the U.S.A.:
— ~80-Year Cycle from 1770’s to 1850’s – when crop raising evolved to the Midwest US.
— ~80-Year Cycle from 1850’s to 1930’s – when heartland of US became breadbasket of US.
— ~80-Year Cycle from 1930’s to 2010’s – when Dust Bowl prompted mass migration to California and resulted in California becoming the country’s – and sometimes the globe’s – leader in food production. (For example, 94% of America’s broccoli, 84% of our peaches, 94% of plums and majority of lettuce, carrots & celery come from California.)
— 40-Year Cycle from 1976/1977 to 2016/2017 – linking California’s worst drought to its worsening drought… and ushering in a 3–5 year period of increased vulnerability.
However, after 5 years of nearly unprecedented drought & resulting wildfires, what if El Nino brings torrential rains – as it has the distinct possibility to do – and washes away massive amounts of critical topsoil that has little vegetation protecting & congealing that soil?
(W. Iowa suffered a related fate in 2013 after massive flooding washed away a year’s worth of topsoil – in only 5 days – following the devastating drought of 2012. And, the drought of the early-2010’s helped fuel the livestock surge into 2014.)
Would that resemble the 80-year sequence witnessed in the Plains – from the 1850’s to the 1930’s?!
Could the late-2010’s spur a new cycle in which the agricultural industry is forced to de-centralize?
As thinkprogress.org puts it, California produces 2/3 of America’s produce (as well as 80% of the world’s almonds & 94% of canning tomatoes) but much of that – like lettuce, celery, carrots & tomatoes – could be grown in many other locations. And, until the middle half of the US became a giant monoculture, hundreds of small farms used to do just that.
But, like all good government-mandated food policies, the US Farm Bill has created bigger problems by prohibiting most of the massive corn & soybean farmers from growing other crops… or forfeit their subsidies AND have add’l penalties added on.
After all, It is important that massive amounts of corn are grown – fencerow to fencerow (as dictated one 40-Year Cycle ago, in reaction to a previously-failed government-subsidized farm policy that dated back another 40-Year Cycle) – so it can be converted into fuel and burned in our vehicles while providing the illusion of being planted ’to feed the world’.
But, we haven’t (YET) reached the tipping point, so… ‘no worries, mate’.
As with Stock Index cycles, it usually takes multiple challenges to finally trigger a crisis. We already have years of California drought, morphing super-pests & super-bugs in the heartland and the disappearance of diversity in our food-production system. But, what could push it over the edge?
El Nino flooding? Post-El Nino temperature spikes (which occurred recently, in the late-1990’s)??
As I have documented for over two decades, there is an uncanny recurrence of global treaties and other unifying events that consistently emerge during the month of December – most frequently on Dec. 8th. That is why I termed that date the ’Date of Unifying Plans & Events’… or D.U.P.E.
Well, one 17-Year Cycle from when the Kyoto Protocol was opened for signatures and initially ratified – in 1998 (with the U.S. signing but not ratifying in Nov. 1998) – global leaders are meeting for another climate conference on Nov. 30–Dec. 11, 2015.
And, adding to the global-unifying tone, it is being held in Paris, France. Watch December 8th for the next in a continuing series of global-unifying events.”
Food Crisis Cycles remain in focus and are expected to impact crops in 2016–2021, with initial phase in 2016/2017. While everyone is obsessed with drought situations – that remain a serious challenge – much evidence points to the potential for contrasting flooding to plague California & other key regions in 2016/2017.
El Nino could/should be the initial trigger and it could ultimately result in another purge (erosion) of valuable but diminishing topsoil in critical areas. Of course, that might not be initially recognized and could be a steadily developing crop stress in 2016–2019 and potentially into 2021. Super-bugs & super-pests remain an intensifying concern, as well.