The early signals are there, but the world seems to be sleepwalking towards disaster
It is clear that the Government has yet to react to the looming world food crisis
From The Times
March 6, 2008
Who knows there's a food crisis?
The early signals are there, but the world seems to be sleepwalking towards disaster.
To explain the exact connection between a newly opened hamburger joint in Beijing, Sir Richard Branson's biofuelled planes and the strip of wild flowers running round my farmer friend's field in Cambridgeshire would take more than the 970 words allotted to me here but, believe me, they will be on the front page of this and every other newspaper before long, because they spell the beginnings of a full-blown food crisis.
You can see the early signals already - the doubling of wheat prices, the mounting cost of bread, the steepest increases at the supermarkets for 14 years, demonstrations on the streets by pig farmers threatened with bankruptcy, “tortilla riots” in Mexico, the drying up of aid to the Third World.
And this is only the start of it. In the words of Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at the University of Leeds: “We are sleep-walking into a crisis.” At the very least he predicts the end of the era of cheap food, which will of itself amount to a big shift in our eating habits. But if the process of rising costs and diminishing supplies of grain accelerates, as it may well do, we could witness actual shortages of basic foostuffs. One report last month said that the world is only ten weeks away from running out of wheat supplies after stocks fell to their lowest level for 50 years.
The causes are many and various, but at their heart is a change in global consumer habits that has crept up on us almost without our noticing. In China and the Far East, growing wealth has been accompanied by a taste for Western diets, including, principally, beef, which is now being imported in increasing quantities. There was a time when the idea of an American-style hamburger would have turned the stomach of the average Chinese; not any more. McDonald's is rolling out a chain of drive-through fast-food outlets in China's 30,000 petrol stations, and opening restaurants across that vast country to cater for a new appetite for Western meat.
The world market for beef, and the resulting need for cattle feed has coincided with a decline in the production of grain, as the maize farmers of America switch from producing their standard crops to growing biofuels as an alternative source of energy. Worried by the instability of oil and gas-supplying states throughout the world - from Russia to the Middle East - the US Government has encouraged farmers to turn their fields over to producing ethanol. Production of this alternative fuel is predicted to rise by 30 per cent by 2010. As one farmer put it: “Once I grew food for a bullock, now I grow fuel for a Buick.”
Enter Sir Richard, heralding a new era of carbon-free aviation travel by sending one of his passenger jets across the North Sea, its tanks brimming with biofuels. His feat is, of course, widely applauded, with giants of the global-warming era such as Bill Clinton and Al Gore congratulating him on a pledge to spend $3 billion on developing his alternative Virgin fuels. So, just at a time when we should be considering how best to increase our production of grain, we in Britain are switching off one main source of it.
Here then, one might imagine, would be an opportunity for Britain, with its long tradition of highly efficient farming, to begin filling the gap. As Professor Lang, in a lecture this week at City University, London, pointed out, Britain has turned round its farming industry to become one of the most productive in the world. Too productive, perhaps. By the 1970s Britain and Europe, aided by massive subsidies, were contributing to grain, beef and butter mountains that had become a source of international scandal.
The Common Agricultural Policy began switching its grant system away from production towards more environmentally friendly schemes. Farmers were encouraged to grow verges round their fields, where wild life could flourish. Hedges, ripped out to increase the size of fields, were carefully replanted. Ponds, small copses, water verges and species-rich grassland were actively encouraged. It did wonders for biodiversity, and made a great deal of money for some. My East Anglian farmer friend reported happily on the marked improvement the new grants had made to his bottom line.
He is less happy now. With wheat at £180 a ton, he would dearly like to rip out the thickets and meadows where birds and bees so happily congregate, and go back to doing what he is best at - producing grain. But he is locked into a ten-year scheme and, for the time being at any rate, he is unable to make the switch. Elsewhere, there are some signs of flexibility: in Scotland a new scheme is being introduced, aimed at encouraging farmers to co-operate, and become more competitive and more market-orientated. But overall there is little sign that policy-makers have grasped the enormity of what has happened. The UK is now barely 60 per cent self-sufficient in food.
It is clear that the Government has yet to react to the dimensions of the looming world food crisis. It needs to begin a debate with the EU on the whole direction of Europe's agricultural strategy and rethink it from scratch, devising a strategy for sustainable production, then begin to educate the public about the realities ahead. It will mean a change in culture that is a million miles from the Tesco-driven consumerism we have grown lazily used to over the past 20 years.
Professor Lang suggests we may need to go back to the ground-breaking reports of the 1940s, which led to a wholesale shift in Britain's approach to food production. If that means a revolutionary change in the national diet, then so be it. Maybe that would be no bad thing.
I don't post on this thread anymore unless it's HOT. Something is up:
* Cheney went to visit the Saudis. After that, the Saudis are diligently preparing for the nuclear and political fallout from Iran over an imminent strike.
* China just did something very unusual and ratted out on their ally Iran, presenting solid evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons preparation to the UN. Folks, this is very unlike China, who is in bed with Iran over several huge energy deals. Why the sudden change in heart?
* Syria just did something very unusual and ratted out Iran on the listening devices Iran provided them with (well at least the technology) to spy on the IDF. (Israel Defense Force). China is not afraid of the US, but Syria is, and has been deeply in bed with Iran on a number of dark issues.
* Syria and Israel recently had secret talks. This is also a highly unusual development, being that they are enemies. But Iran is Israel's arch-enemy. It's as though all the birds suddenly stopped singing and the air grew very still.
This is not about America being the all-good guys and them as the all bad. I'm just saying that something big is about to happen, so brace yourselves.
US Attack on Iran: Worried Yet? Saudis Prepare for "Sudden Nuclear Hazards" After Cheney Visit
Last Friday, Dick Cheney was in Saudi Arabia for high-level meetings with the Saudi king and his ministers. On Saturday, it was revealed that the Saudi Shura Council -- the elite group that implements the decisions of the autocratic inner circle -- is preparing "national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts' warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors," one of the kingdom's leading newspapers, Okaz, reports. The German-based dpa news service relayed the paper's story.
Simple prudence -- or ominous timing? We noted here last week that an American attack on Iran was far more likely -- and more imminent -- than most people suspect. We pointed to the mountain of evidence for this case gathered by scholar William R. Polk, one of the top aides to John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to other indicators of impending war. The story by Okaz -- which would not have appeared in the tightly controlled dictatorship without approval from the top -- is yet another, very weighty piece of evidence laid in the scales toward a new, horrendous conflict.
We don't know what the Saudis told Cheney in private -- or even more to the point, what he told them. But the release of this story now, just after his departure, would seem to be a clear indication that the Saudis have good reason to fear a looming attack on Iran's nuclear sites and are actively preparing for it.
II. A Nuclear Epiphany in Iran?
And they certainly should be bracing themselves. A U.S. attack on Iran will come suddenly, and if it is indeed aimed at destroying Iran's nuclear capabilities -- a "threat" being talked up again with new urgency by both Cheney and Bush lately -- it has the potential for unimaginable consequences.
By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 3:46pm BST 03/04/2008
China has betrayed one its closest allies by providing the United Nations with intelligence on Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear technology, diplomats have revealed. Outcry as Chinese activist Hu Jia jailed Concern over Tehran's secretive research programme has increased in recent weeks after officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, discovered that Iran had obtained information on how to manufacture nuclear-armed weapons.
A heavy-water nuclear facility in Arak and a security guard at an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility
Beijing is believed to have decided to assist the inspectors after documents seized from Iranian officials included blueprints for "shaping" uranium metal into warheads, the testing of high explosives used to detonate radioactive material and the procurement of dual-use technology.
Much of the new material was presented to the governors of the Vienna-based IAEA in February. That meeting is said to have triggered China's change of heart.
Ahmadinejad on National Nuclear DayDiplomats described Beijing's decision to provide material related to Iran to the IAEA as a potentially significant breakthrough.
Chinese designs for centrifuges that refine uranium into a "weaponised" state have been found in Iran but these are thought to have come through a network controlled by the disgraced Pakistani scientist AQ Khan.
John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, said suspicions over the leakage of technology from China to Iran had long centred on uranium enrichment technology and their bilateral ballistic missile trade.
A spokesman for the IAEA said it did not comment on intelligence it received from its members.
Beijing has long-established ties with Iran's clerical regime and has emerged as one of the country's biggest customers for oil and gas.
It has allied itself with Tehran's attempts to prevent the IAEA referring Iran to the UN Security Council, which can impose sanctions.
China has not used its veto powers to block US and British sponsored sanctions but it has ensured the measures were watered down.
The council has levied three rounds of financial sanctions on Iran in an attempt to force the country to declare all its nuclear activities.
IAEA weapons inspectors report that Iran has not provided full co-operation.
An American intelligence assessment judged it likely that Iran stopped efforts to produce a nuclear weapon in 2003 but there are strong fears it has resumed the work under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA, said this week that he believed that Iran is still developing a nuclear bomb.
Meanwhile, Israel has accused Iran of setting up listening stations in Syria to eavesdrop on its military communications network.
Israel: Iran listening in on IDF communications from Syria
By News Agencies Israeli officials' reported comments that Tehran has been building listening stations in Syria to intercept Israeli military communications were confirmed in Damascus but denied by Iran, an Arab newspaper said Thursday.
A Syrian member of parliament, Mohammed Habash, told the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat that the listening stations in Syria were no secret.
"Syria is doing all it could to defend its territory and is turning to military experts for help," said Habash, who heads parliament's Syrian-Iranian relations committee.
"We are still at war with Israel. We have the right to defend our borders with all means within international law," Habash added.
The real objective of Syrian cooperation with Russia, China and Iran is to protect the country's borders, the lawmaker said.
Israeli security officials reportedly said Iran has built a number of listening stations in Syria months ago.
"I want to tell the Israelis that they do not really know what Syria has. Their expectations may be far below what is being done in Syria to face any foolishness that Israel may commit," Habash said.
On Tuesday, top security officials said Israel is taking new precautions because of the listening stations.
Israel Defense Forces top brass won't be allowed to bring their mobile phones into rooms where classified information is being discussed, the officials said. Also, IDF generals will be assigned special areas on bases to conduct personal conversations. That way, listening stations won't be able to hear sensitive conversations that might be going on in the background while generals talk on their cellular phones, they explained.
Despite Syria's confirmation, the media advisor at the Iranian embassy in Damascus denied reported Israeli official statement about Iranian-built listening stations in Syria.
"This is not the first time that Israeli sources give false news," the embassy official told al-Sharq al-Awsat.
"How could Iran build those stations in Syria? Which company built them? We have no capabilities to do this in Syria," the unnamed official said.
Any cooperation between Syrian and Iranian private firms in telephone and cell phone projects is taken by Western media to be listening stations, the diplomat said.
"But if Syria built listening stations, then it would have the right to in the same way Israel does," he added.
Military officials say Iran helped Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas pick up Israeli radio communications during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Several months ago, all radio communications were ordered to be encrypted, security officials said.
according to god's word, NO MAN will know when christ will return. in fact, christ himself does not even know.
we have been in the end times since christ ascended into heaven. we have been in the end times for over 2000 years.
i do believe that world events are proof that we are in the end times, but i do not believe we will know a date as to when christ will return as that is what the bible says.
i am not saying i get that from your posts, i was just wondering if you think one can predict when his return will be?
Yes it's true, no one knows the day nor the hour. Christ, when on earth, didn't know either. According to the beliefs of most Christians, Christ was deity incarnate, the 2nd person of the trinity, yet, according to Philippians 2, was "emptied of the godhead, of all divine attributes" such as omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. Thus the fulfillment of the first set of the Messianic prophecies. The Presbyterians take exception to this, having been taught that He was never emptied when He took on the humble form of a servant, that He possessed full Godhood the entire time. This idea was also reflected in the book, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (Fulton Oursler). Some questions could be written off as "rhetorical" by these good folks, such as "Who touched Me?" when He perceived that the virtue had gone out of Him and healed the women who touched the hem of his garment. "Adam, where are you?" would be another example of a rhetorical question. But how can it be explained away that He apparently did not possess omnicience when He said "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32)
Yes, we have been in the end times for about 2000 years. However, there appears to be a strong difference between the end times and the last days. We are not only in the end times, but there are powerful evidences, unprecedented in history, that we are in the culminative last days, quickly approaching the consummation of the ages.
As for date-setting, that would be just plain silly. A few have tried. For instance, the fear-driven Watchtower theocratic organization lost a large segment of its adherants in 1975 because of some embarrassing personalized prophecies about the end of the world that didn't happen. Thus the joke - "The Jehovah's Witnesses - a non-prophet organization." I do not look upon them so unkindly. But quite a few have made this mistake. Events must be taken for what they are, without reading too much into them.
A few evidences why this may be the Last Days in human history:
While not getting dogmatic here, there are some truly unprecedented developments in human history that seem quite irreversible. (Not that our intention is to feed or "create" the things we observe, but rather to acknowledge what is, and is affecting our very lives - things which have been clearly forthcoming for quite some time now, even before we were born.)
Well, firstly, here's a few signs that are NOT reasons to believe the end is here.
Population growth - While it is true that there are more people alive today than in ALL previous history, mere population count does not guarantee we are in the last days. Paul Ehrlich's book, "The Population Bomb" was good reading, drawing attention in the 70s to real needs.
Earthquakes in diverse places - While we are recording more and more frequent seismic activity - increasing in frequency as a woman in travail giving birth - this development of Christ's prophecy in late history is not quite the proof many will find convincing.
Wars and rumors of wars - again a prophecy of Christ, there have always been wars. However, it is interesting that two major WORLD WARS, plus a cold war occurred all in one century.. this last one.
Global warming - We have had this before following previous ice ages. The real question is, what part do humans play in bringing this one about?
Pestilences, famine, disease, strange weather patterns.. the list of prophesied events goes on and on. People thought Nero was the antiChrist, as was thought of Hitler and many others. These are still a little too general for most folks.
Here's some evidences that are more compelling that we are indeed in the last days, not simply the end times:
What got many prophecy scholars all excited was the reformation of the state of Israel - around whom so much prophecy revolves. Christ did make a specific prophecy about the fig tree. All throughout the old testament, the nation of Israel is symbolized as the fig tree. That fact is overwhelming.
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Israel became a nation again in 1948, after being scattered in exile around the world for nearly 2000 years. On the heels of this prophetic fulfillment came many miracles including the 6-day war (the Israelis should have lost that on all logistical accounts) and the transformation of a barren desert into a thriving place of flowing streams and green land.
What also leads me to believe that these are the last days are what I like to call "The Momentum Factor." That means that what used to take X amount of time, then went twice as fast in 1/2 the time, then 3 times as fast in 1/3 the time, then four times faster in 1/4 the time, and so forth. History is not linear. It is exponential. We doubled in knowledge every 2 years, then every 18 months, then..
Just over a century ago, we were still using only FIVE basic machines - the wheel, the lever, the pulley, the wedge and the inclined plane. This went on for all human history up to relatively recently. Then came "Fulton's folly" with the steam engine, Ford with the internal combustion engine, Edison with the light bulb, phonograph record, Alexander Graham Bell with the telephone and so on.
First came the Industrial Revolution beginning in England following the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Then came the technological explosion and all the ominous implications of that. Hitler had the idea of an Aryan master race. Now genetic engineering makes that possible. (Made-to-order babies, super-soldiers, etc, etc, it's all coming).
The advent of nuclear technology, while 60 years old, is now catching on like wildfire among rogue regimes and terrorists entirely willing to use them.
And, one must ask, how long can we go on the way things are? And the way they are going?
One wise man said that Divine intervention occurs not so much according to TIME, but according to TEMPERATURE. This is reminiscent of the days of Noah when "men thought only evil continually." Now this is a very uncomfortable subject - the thought or notion of Divine judgment. And it is not my intention to cause discomfort or instill fear in people's hearts. There's already plenty of that around today.
And yet, we have a record in Genesis that speaks of a global, cataclysmic event known as the flood. Some regard this as a mere fable while others take the record more seriously. Be that as it may, something global happened. That is quite apparent. The folks in higher education know about it too and remain very quiet about it..
There are at least 250 flood legends worldwide that have nothing to do with the Genesis record. Some have enumerated the flood legends up to 500. (References furnished upon request).
The next major global event is not a flood but is more incendiary in nature, according to prophecy. And it sounds more and more nuclear.
At the end of the day, folks believe what they want to believe. That's why there needs to be love and tolerance for diversity. The things we believe might be entreated gently without force or manipulation.
One word Messiah said to His disciples was: "What I say to you, I say unto all. Watch."
Whoa - a lot of stuff got posted here today. I decided not to post about prophecy-related things, unless things got hot, and they are.. right now with Iran. I will continue to post on this thread only as events really call for it. There are all kinds of incremental developments day by day, most of it not really needing to be mentioned.
For those even remotely interested in eschatology (the study of things pertaining to the end of the ages), the following may be worth considering:
* Never in the history of the world has man had the capability to wipe out all or most life on the planet simply by pressing a few buttons.
* Never in the history of the world has it been possible for one man to control the entire world with a computer that fits in the palm of his hand. We're almost there.
* Never before has man been able to play God as he does now by genetically modifying our produce, by cloning, by producing test-tube babies, manufacturing "superior" human beings..
Technology is neutral, but the insidious minds of mercenary men are not.
* Never has knowledge multiplied so rapidly in such a short space of time.
The one that really got me was where it said when Christ returns everyone will see him. That is only possible since the advent of television.
luckitri: when 'they' tell you go and see in such and such a place or watch it on TV KNOW FOR SURE WITHOUT EQUIVOCATION that is not the Jesus Christ and don't go! The Bible said: every eye shall see Him that is you will overthere and I will here and people in Asia and Africa will see Him and the other distinct characteristic:::: He will not be touching the 'earth' .