...But while the bankers grapple with the top end of the process – the movement of billions of dollars around the world financial system – the political analysts are increasingly preoccupied by the way globalisation is affecting people at the bottom of the pile.
The costs of food and energy are rising fast. The availability of water is also becoming an issue, from Australia to Africa. The struggle for these three basic commodities – food, energy and water – came up repeatedly in Davos. [...]... Andrew Liveris, chairman of Dow Chemical told the Davos meeting that: “Water is ... the oil of the 21st century. ”
The food, energy and water problems all touch on each other. America’s pursuit of alternatives to oil has led to massive investment in biofuels made from maize. That in turn has cut the amount of maize being used for food production and so contributed to rising food prices. The production of biofuels is also very water-intensive. Meanwhile, increased demand for agricultural land to grow more food is leading to the clearing of forest in Brazil – which could worsen global warming – leading to further stress on the world’s water supplies.
The potential for political conflicts increases along with the rise in food, energy and water prices. [...]
The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum was meant to be “collaborative innovation”. It is difficult to think of anything less collaborative or innovative than a new era of resource wars.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Financial Times: "the financiers are frightened".
Peak Everything: Gideon Rachman in the FT, on "The global battle for food, oil and water":