Thursday, February 3, 2011

Authoritarian governments across the world are aggressively stockpiling food as a buffer against soaring food costs which they fear may stoke popular discontent. Commodities traders have warned they are seeing the first signs of panic buying from states concerned about the political implications of rising prices for staple crops. However, the tactic risks simply further pushing up prices, analysts have warned, pushing a spiral of food inflation.
Governments in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have recently made large food purchases on the open market in the wake of unrest in Tunisia which deposed its president. Resentment at food shortages and high prices, as well as repression and corruption, drove the popular uprising which swept away his government. High prices are "leading to riots, demonstrations and political instability." "It's really something that can topple regimes, as we have seen in the Middle East." Algeria purchased 800,000 tonnes of milling wheat on Wednesday and Saudi Arabia has said it will purchase enough wheat for a 12 month reserve. Egypt, which has seen several days of unrest in part provoked by high food prices, is expected to follow. Bangladesh has tripled its rice import target and Indonesia this week bought 820,000 tonnes of Thai rice. "You artificially stimulate much higher demand when nations start to increase stockpiles."
"This is only the start of the panic buying. I expect we'll have more countries coming in and buying grain." Prices have not hit the peaks seen in 2008 when inflation caused a food price crisis, but economists have warned they still have the power to topple regimes. Protest will not stop in North Africa. "It will spread in many countries because of high unemployment and increasing food prices."
Instability in the Middle East and North Africa could disrupt supplies of phosphate rock and threaten global food security. Phosphorus is an important component of fertiliser. A high proportion of phosphate rock reserves are in the Middle East and Africa. "Morocco alone controls the vast majority of the world's remaining high-quality phosphate rock. Even a temporary disruption to the supply of phosphate on the world market can have serious ramifications for nations' food security." Even before the peak in phosphorus production, there is a prospect of significant rises in prices and a consequent impact upon farmers and global crop yields. No government has a plan for securing sufficient access to phosphorus for producing food in the long term.
China Faces More Difficulty Meeting Food Demand. China will have more difficulty feeding itself in the coming years as expanding demand, spurred by increased urbanization, a worsening natural environment and more extreme weather, strains resources. As more people move into cities and towns, the supply of farm products is limited by declining productivity of rural labor, a worsening natural environment and more extreme weather. During 2011-2015, more than half of the country’s population will be living in cities or towns. This migration creates additional demand of 4 million metric tons of grain, 800,000 tons of vegetable oil, and 1 million tons of meat every year.
The global consumption of fish has hit a RECORD HIGH, reaching an average of 17kg per person. Fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with about 145m tonnes in 2009, providing about 16% of the population's animal protein intake. About 32% of global fish stocks are overexploited, depleted or recovering. "That there has been no improvement in the status of stocks is a matter of great concern. The percentage of overexploitation needs to go down, although at least we seem to reaching a plateau." The authors forecast the status of tuna stocks will deteriorate further unless management improves. China remains the largest fish-producing nation, producing 47.5m tonnes in 2008 (32.7m tonnes from aquaculture and 14.8m tonnes from capture fisheries).
Most stocks of the top 10 commercial species, which account for almost a third of global catches, are fully exploited. "In the long-term, because of the substantial demand for tuna and the significant overcapacity of tuna fishing fleets, the status of tuna stocks may deteriorate further if there is no improvement in their management."
Another threat to the long-term sustainability of fish stock was illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing. Another problem facing the world's fisheries: "high levels of unwanted and often unreported bycatch and discards... including the capture of ecologically important species. The latest estimate of global discards from fishing is about seven million tonnes per year."
In Australia, bananas wiped out, Cyclone Yasi to blame.
Australian sugar industry devastated - Many sugarcane crops have been totally destroyed by Cyclone Yasi, as the industry fears losses of up to $500 million.

**When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.**
Ancient Ayurvedic Proverb

This morning -

Yesterday -
2/2/11 -


PHILIPPINES - Taal Volcano in Batangas showed heightened activity anew after at least 10 volcanic quakes around it were recorded in the last 24 hours.

JAPAN - Japan's Mount Shinmoe erupted again on Wednesday, spewing more lava, smoke and ash through the area. The volcano erupted twice on Wednesday, at 5:25 a.m. and 10:47 a.m. Since January 26 when it broke its decades-long slumber, the volcano has erupted seven times. In the nearby town of Takaharu, ash blanketed cars, houses and streets, where 1158 residents have been advised to evacuate. Town officials said 614 people so far have fled their homes. On Tuesday, Mount Shinmoe erupted with an infrasonic wave that shattered windows in houses in the town of Takaharu. Local television reports showed hundreds of people spending the night in gymnasiums, waiting for word that it was safe to sleep at home. Exactly when that order will come is unclear, meteorologists said. The ash has forced numerous flight cancellations. The volcano may cease activity soon, continue small explosions which will release all the magma energy, or this could be the prelude to a very large volcanic eruption.

Cyclone YASI was 190 nmi W of Townsville, Australia.
Yasi path map

AUSTRALIA - Storm surge threatens north Queensland. Cairns residents in far north Queensland have been warned the danger from Tropical Cyclone Yasi has not passed yet, with a storm surge posing a "significant threat" to life and property. Overnight Cairns was ready for a battering as fierce winds from category five Yasi buffeted the city for hours, but the damage this morning appears minimal. However, there is more risk from the storm surge today, than when the cyclone crossed the coast. "We have very heavy waves that are crashing onto our waterfronts, onto our foreshores, across the rock walls and walkways. We urge people to stay in their homes, continue with their cleaning up and not go near the waterfront. There are no reports of significant damage in the city from the cyclone crossing.
Further south, the storm surge is also currently affecting Townsville, with water entering parts of the city on the high tide. Torrential rain and gusting winds of around 100 kilometres an hour battered Townsville earlier this morning. Falls of more than 200 millimetres were recorded around Townsville since 9:00am (AEST) yesterday, but winds have dropped in the city. All over the city this morning, large trees have been uprooted, blocking streets. Some houses have been damaged and heavy rain is already causing localised flooding. Sugarcane crops in the northern tropical Australia state of Queensland have been damaged by Cyclone Yasi although the extent of the destruction is still being assessed.
Emergency crews are cutting their way into storm-shattered communities
in north Queensland to assess the extent of the damage after category five Cyclone Yasi roared ashore overnight. The towns of Tully, Mission Beach, Cardwell, Silkwood and Innisfail bore the brunt of the monster storm's 285kph winds but there are no reports of deaths or serious injuries. Buildings were destroyed, roofs were ripped off houses, and trees were shredded as the monster storm slammed ashore at about midnight.
This morning the cyclone was heading inland towards Georgetown and Charters Towers and had been downgraded from a category five to a category two system, but higher-than-normal tides and large waves continued to threaten coastal areas between Port Douglas and Ayr. Emergency crews who have just entered the coastal town of Cardwell have reported widespread damage, with older buildings the worst hit. Early estimates from Tully are that one in three homes have suffered storm damage and 70 per cent of businesses were affected. Some towns appear to have escaped major damage. "In some places we've got some early assessments of damage and some places we're yet to get people into." Suburbs to the north of Townsville and areas in the upper Burdekin area are also bracing for heavy flooding. Police officers at Mission Beach say they thought they were going to die. Most of the town's 6,000 residents left days ago to avoid the monster storm, but about 1,000 people stayed behind. "The whole building really started to have a bit of shake to it, certainly the roaring of the wind was astronomical. Hearing things breaking outside was really something that you just couldn't imagine in our township." The cyclone has wrought havoc in the marina at Port Hinchinbrook, south of Cardwell.
"What I'm seeing at the moment is the mass destruction of all the million-dollar yachts and cruisers and everything that's been moored in this marina over the last few months. They're all sitting up in everybody's yards just smashed to pieces."
If you're struggling to grasp the magnitude of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, consider this: it is so large it would almost cover the United States, most of Asia and large parts of Europe. Most of the coverage about the scale of Yasi has tried to compare it with storms of the past - it's bigger than Larry, more powerful than Tracy. Hours after landfall, it was still a category three and had been forecast to still be a category one even when it reached Mt Isa, more han 700km away. But this storm is continental in size. The pre-landfall core was over 500km wide and its associated activity stretched well over 2000km.
The storm's scale of destruction is as shocking as it is inevitable. Placed on a U.S. map, the United States from Pennsylvania in the east to Nevada in the west, from Georgia in the south to Canada in the north and well into Mexico would be battered, with 300km/h winds and up to one metre of rain in the worst-hit areas. The economic impact would be felt around the world.
Placed over India, again, the scale is unthinkable - taking in an area from Japan, the Koreas and China all the way through southeast Asia, around through India and the Himalayas and threatening large parts of central Asia. This would have billions of people directly in the path of the category 5 storm, creating a human tide of displaced cyclone "refugees". Even the eye of Yasi is as big as a city. The eye itself, 35km across at landfall, would stretch over all of the Katrina-ravaged New Orleans city centre. (maps)


US buckles under massive snow storms - A MASSIVE storm billed as THE WORST IN DECADES has barrelled northeast thorough US states, leaving vast swaths from Chicago to New York paralysed by snow and ice. Hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight, and airports and schools were forced to close. Chicago had 49.53 centimetres of snow, ranking the storm the third-largest on record to hit the city - and still more snow was possible. As much as 46 centimetres fell in Missouri, more than 30 centimetres dropped on northern Indiana and southeast Kansas, and Oklahoma saw up to a foot. Forecasters warned ice accumulations could knock down some tree limbs and power lines across the storm's more than 3,220-kilometre path. Ice also could affect transit service.
In Chicago, the city closed public schools FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 12 YEARS and shut down Lake Shore Drive, where hundreds of motorists were stranded for 12 hours after multiple car accidents on the iconic roadway. Bulldozers moved snow away from an estimated hundreds of cars that remained buried up to their roofs on Wednesday morning, after drivers had been rescued. Only then could tow trucks move in. Motorist rescue efforts had been "severely hampered" by snow drifts, high winds and white-out conditions. Not only was driving dicey, but flying in and out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport - a major US hub - won't be possible until today. More than 5300 flights were cancelled nationwide. That came a day after airlines grounded 12,630 flights due to the storm. The storm's powerful punch came from cold air that swept down from Canada, clashing with warm, moist air coming up from the south.
The bitter winter storm that stretched 2,000 miles (3,200km) across swathes of the US and Canada is blamed for at least 10 deaths.
The winter storm has crippled two-thirds of US.