In this article in MacLean’s Magazine the problem of SD is nicely tied in with the current problems in global food supply.
It talks about a couple of (interrelated) issues:
1. An increasing demand for oil – we’re all aware that this resource is becoming scarcer and harder to find, and therefore (part of the reason) causing oil prices to go up. The resulting increase in oil price has an immediate impact on food production. Included in the cost of food for instance are harvesting and transportation costs. In addition, fertilizers are made using natural gas (which has become more expensive as well), which adds to the increase in costs.
2. Added to this is the growing demand of world population in general coupled with a growing middle class in emerging countries such as India and China who demand high quality, high protein foods. For instance: between 1990 and 2006 the average amount of meat consumed in China increased by 2.5 times. This adds to the upward pressure on food prices since it takes several kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of meat.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published several reports in the past few months indicating that the higher global prices of food staples is likely to stay around. Higher prices are already causing problems for people worldwide, especially in developing countries, but also in developed countries, such as Italy, where people protested against a 20% increase in the price of pasta.
Interestingly, a lot of effort (and: valuable hectares) goes into generating bio-fuels. The US has a subsidy program worth US$6 B annually to stimulate the production of ethanol, leaving less agricultural surface for the production of edible foods.
The tone of the article seems to be: “Caught between a rock and a hard place”. Not enough oil to sustain the global growth and not a real alternative at the moment; at the same time not enough space to produce a sufficient amount of bio-fuels without jeopardizing food production?