Friday, April 25, 2008

Food and fuel in the news

DrumBeat: April 25, 2008 offered two particularly interesting links.

First, Time offered How to End the Global Food Shortage, their suggestion on three actions we can take in the short term. I'm not sure I see a long-term solution there, for I sense that global population is still growing exponentially, while their solutions seem focused on taking current food production to a new level, not creating matching exponential growth in the production and distribution of food. Put in systems terms, I sense population is still driven by a reinforcing loop, while the three Time proposals seem driven by goal-seeking loops. The short-term effects do seem beneficial, as long as we don't forget the longer term.

Second, oil financier Matt Simmons has published more presentations. Check out The 21st Century Energy Crisis Has Arrived. Slides 9-10 should not be a surprise to any who took IMT 586 at the University of Washington last winter or who have worked the challenge on pages 212-213 in John Sterman's Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World with CD-ROM.

While you're there, also see his Are We Nearing The Peak Of Fossil Fuel Energy? Has Twilight In The Desert Begun? He does offer optimism, but only if we act well and only after some, um, "transitional" times. If anything, I wonder if his estimate of the rate of decline of production is optimistic, for, with the high raw demand for petroleum these days, I suspect we will deplete available reserves at a rather rapid rate.

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