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The Population Bomb Echoes

Pack your portfolios with agricultural plays like Potash (POT), Mosaic (MOS), and Agrium (AGU) if Dr. Paul Ehrlich is just partially right about the impending collapse in the world’s food supply. You might even throw in long positions in wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice.

The never dull, and often controversial Stanford biology professor told me he expects that global warming is leading to significant changes in world weather patterns that will cause droughts in some of the largest food producing areas, causing massive famines. Food prices will skyrocket, and billions could die.

At greatest risk are the big rice producing areas in South Asia, which depend on glacial run off from the Himalayas. If the glaciers melt, this crucial supply of fresh water will disappear. California faces a similar problem if the Sierra snowpack fails to show up in sufficient quantities, as it has in recent years.

Rising sea levels displacing 500 million people in low lying coastal areas is another big problem. One of the 79 year old professor’s early books The Population Bomb was required reading for me in college in 1970, and I used to drive up from Los Angeles to hear his lectures (followed by the obligatory side trip to the Haight-Ashbury).

Other big risks to the economy are the threat of a third world nuclear war caused by population pressures, and global plagues facilitated by a widespread growth of intercontinental transportation and globalization. And I won’t get into the threat of a giant solar flare frying our electrical grid.

“Super consumption” in the US needs to be reined in where the population is growing the fastest.  If the world adopts an American standard of living, we need four more Earths to supply the needed natural resources. We must to raise the price of all forms of carbon, preferably through taxes, but cap and trade will work too. Population control is the answer to all of these problems, which is best achieved by giving women an education, jobs, and rights, and has already worked well in Europe and Japan.

All sobering food for thought.

By. Mad Hedge Fund Trader


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Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on February 21 2011 said:
    You've got it completely right, MHFT. This population thing is serious, and I even forgave Paul Ehrlich for ridiculing me and other economists when he spoke in the economics building at Uppsala University. Of course, I would have cut him to pieces if his subject had been other than population and a few other things I was interested in, and he was on the right side of.Cap and trade is nonsense, but I favor carbon taxes that are returned to the persons who pay them - the point being to raise the price of carbon, and not to finance the war in Iraq or Afghanistan
  • Anonymous on February 21 2011 said:
    Very true. We all died back in the 1980s, just as Paul Ehrlich predicted back in 1969 - 1970. Who could ask for better accuracy from a prognosticator?
  • Anonymous on February 22 2011 said:
    War needs energy, super viruses and neutron bombs could always be used but guarantee retaliation.Some ideas:Grow hemp and/or more bamboo. both drought resistant and can be made into fuel.If the US started growing Hemp again, it would save billions on physically taking things from halfway across the world to feed its population, and would turn itself into such a wonderful place, everyone WOULD want to live there if it was self sufficient and had a high quality of living.Voluntary one child families - If women VOLUNTARILY had one child, there would be immediate reduction of strain on all areas of the macro and micro picture.

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