Hoofbeats. I Definitely Hear Hoofbeats.

The chief of U.N. humanitarian operations, John Holmes, said Tuesday that poor people around the world are facing worsening hardship because of the expense of food. He said food prices had risen an average of 40 percent over the last year.

“The security implications should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe,” Holmes said during a conference in Dubai. “Compounding the challenges of climate change in what some have labeled the perfect storm are the recent dramatic trends in soaring food and fuel prices.”

MAHALLA EL-KOBRA, Egypt (AP) — “Egypt rushed Tuesday to grant bonuses to workers after two days of deadly riots over high food prices and low wages wracked this northern industrial city, fueling government fears that economic angst might boil over across the country. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif hurried to Mahalla al-Kobra on Tuesday with several top economic ministers to meet with workers at the 50-year-old, state-owned Misr Spinning and Weaving factory complex that employs 25,000 people and announced they would receive a bonus of 30 days’ pay and promised to address their demands for better health care and higher wages.

30 days pay is $34. The average Egyptian worker is desperately poor and is the head of a family of 5. Food prices have risen 40% in Egypt and world-wide over the past year. You can’t afford tires on a bicycle on $34 a month.

A top United Nations official warned that many poor nations are in danger of such unrest as inflation heats up around the globe.

Unrest? You mean food riots that sweep away entire governments? Open warfare between government soldiers and police, and the population at large? Widespread famine, and the raging disease epidemics that go with it? The return of Bubonic Plague to Africa, plus Cholera and Dysentery and God knows what other filth-borne, insect-borne, rat-carried diseases?

I’d posted on this looming future sometime ago, maybe a year or more, I forget now. It was easy to see it coming then and now everybody gets it.

This isn’t entirely due to population increases or changing global weather conditions. In fact their contribution is small and not very significant. The shortage of food is due mostly to its rising cost combined with the switch of millions of farm acres to methanol production, and hoarding.

The huge increase in oil from $20 a barrel to $108 currently drives up food production costs. Much of the fertilizer is a byproduct of petroleum. The farm machines run on it, the food is harvested and transported and packaged and preserved using petroleum products.

Food producers, rice, wheat, corn and soy, are hoarding these products against higher prices as the market futures spiral up, thus creating an additional shortage.

This level of greed is foolish and these people are going to lose it all when the starving population rips open their doors and carries off the bags of grain, leaving a lot of dead bodies behind who will never run this business again. That means no more food distribution at all, which means a rapid increase in mass starvation and no nation will step in to help.

Why not? Because there will simply be too much of it going on to cope with. The price of oil needs to come down to no more than $50 a barrel immediately. Fat chance in Hell. The corn/methanol farmers need to switch back to food corn. A lot of them are, in fact, doing this and others are switching over to soy beans, an excellent food source, and the hoarders need to open up their warehouses and start selling their stock at fair prices. Unlikely but who knows, after the first few warehouse raids, perhaps the rest will wake up.

Otherwise, those hoofbeats are going to get awful loud. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War, Famine, Plague and Death are on the road now and now, anyone can see it.

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