Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Food As Weapon

We are told by wikipedia that food was first used as a weapon in modern times. I don't see that.

I remember reading an article detailing dig sites from the Mesolithic/ Neolithic. In earlier dig sites, all  human bones are robust, indicating some type of fair distribution of food. But then something happened, and you start seeing evidence of malnutrition in the bones.

I'm not saying intentional starvation started back then, based upon my anecdotal reading, but I'd say it's a fair guess that it was easier strategy to pursue against a sedentary or semi-sedentary population than against nomadic hunter/gatherers. I'm sure there were some paleolithic examples of prey or range denial.

Still, intentional starvation would seem to me to be a product of civilization. Certainly genocide and slavery were part of the Neolithic cultural package, so why not food as weapon - false scarcity - as well?

Image courtesy: Nature

Nowadays, with climate change, we should start to see the Big Squeeze, which is to say, food growing regions that historically are advantageous by being geographically spread out along longitude will now be challenged by latitude.

I don't think it's going to go down the way we think it will, with rain and food belts moving towards the poles. If, as I suspect, the arctic and antarctic regions receive the brunt of the heat, and the tropics don't heat up much at all, we can expect a squeeze of food growing zones from both directions.

This does not bode well for Eurasia, South America, or Australia/Oceania. Hard to say about North America. It really depends upon rain patterns, which may become sporadic and unstable.
Image courtesy:

It may possibly work out for Africa. One great irony would be to see the Sahara bloom. In which case, hey, more power to them, and completely in keeping with my "It's Africa, Stupid" predilections that the 22nd century will be the African century.

I could be wrong.

One thing is for sure, now that food is a spreadsheet item (like every other physical base for fiat currency), market forces are really going to fuck things up for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Problem is now, the data on food is worth more than the food.