Will Mass Famine happen here? Cory Hamasaki predicts famine!

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Realistically here people, what do you think the odds are of a mass famine happenig here in the U.S. are? If so, how bad would that famine be? Cory Haminsky, North, Yourdon, ect. all say it will happen. I think it is possible if oil, big[read corporate] farming, and transportation shut down. Famine has killed more people than anything else in history except for disease, so it's not like it's without historical precedence. If you have read Cory Hamaskai's last thirty DC Y2k Weather Reports he essentially says that famine is going to happen and you had better prepare for it. All of his recent WRPs have covered farming and the food supply chain. He's definently trying to tell us something here. What do you guys think?

-- Need opinions (hungary@famine.com), February 26, 1999


Got seed?? Make sure some are non-hybrid with capacity for yielding successive generations from prudent seed-saving. Those that can grow food and forage for edible wild will not starve. (Nodding also to the hunters out there) Different diet than most are used to these days, but not starvation.

-- Donna Barthuley (moment@pacbell.net), February 26, 1999.

My 2 cents:

Year 2000 Predicted Crisis Severity

60% chance of need for "stored food & water" (power out 1 month)

20% chance of need for "non-hybrid seeds" (power out 1 year)

-- a (a@a.a), February 26, 1999.

Need Opinions,

What do YOU think?

" I think it is possible if oil, big[read corporate] farming, and transportation shut down."

"Famine has killed more people than anything else in history except for disease, so it's not like it's without historical precedence."

It sounds like you know what the possibilities are.

How bad would that famine be?

fam ine (fam' in) n. 1. extreme and general scarcity of food. 3.extreme hunger; starvation.

Sounds like any famine is a bad famine. I don't mean to be a snot, but if you are looking for people who will tell you it won't happen, I'm sure they will be happy to oblige you.(the flip side is true as well)

I know how OVERWHELMING all of this information is, but I hate to say it (I know I won't be alone) you have got to decide how bad YOU think it COULD to be. Decide quickly, and then RUN don't walk and prepare.

Find information sources you trust, ignore all the other noise for it is sure to drive you crazy. Trust your very own instincts.

This is an info-war people, we must win.

Ask yourself this: Self, is my preparation hurting anyone? Self, could I be hurt if I don't prepare? No/YES

I don't think anyone knows the exact odds, we could check Vegas. ;-) I personally reached a turning point today. I was preparing for about 1-3 months. Now I'm going for the gloomiest doomiest preps possible with our limited $$$$$ The answer is simple, there is just too much conflicting/manipulated/false information to figure out all the compliance status facts for possibly years after y2k. Even then people will work so hard to cover their butts, good luck ever getting the truth. Only God knows the real truth, and the future.

I will continue to seek it (truth) though,

-- Deborah (getting@ready.com), February 26, 1999.


It won't take a full year of power outage to cause widespread problems in the US. Just miss the window of oportunity for getting everything produced that's needed for the 2000 growing season, or have an outage that disrupts the planting season and the rest of the year is shot. If the 2000 harvest doesn't come through and the stocks from 1999's harvest are used up (or given away to other nations), then the winter of 1999-2000 will pale in comparison to the sufferring the winter of 2000-2001 will hold.


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), February 26, 1999.


It's not clear what your percentages refer to. Do you mean a 1 month power outage everywhere, or just anywhere? I'd say there's 0% chance of power out for one month everywhere -- my own power company can 'island' if necessary, they're ready and tested for this (and they're a net exporter). But I'd say there's a 90% chance of a 1 month power failure *somewhere*, especially in 3rd world countries.

As for a 1-year blackout, I'd go up to 20% chance for this *somewhere*.

I expect we'll have to tighten our belts for a few years to a decade in many ways, not just food. We won't starve, but choices and availability will be limited, and our diets may need to change.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 26, 1999.


-- jeanne (realistic@now.com), February 26, 1999.

I sent this out just about a year ago, I think it is still pertainent.

First. I grew up on a large cattle ranch, and while those types of enterprises still exist, they are far outnumbered in product number output by cattle manufacturing enterprises. These giant feedlots are the presently used means by which the cost of beef is kept low enough, for those who wish to eat it on a regular basis, so they can and not use their total food budget.

Giant feedlots, whether cattle, pigs, chickens, or turkeys are all tightly connected into the web of distribution. These are industrial sites. They demand baby product to be delivered just when they need them by the hundreds of thousands.

Think about the infrastructure that delivers 200,000 3 day old baby turkeys or chickens. There are the fertilized laying hens which need feed, care, water, waste disposal. Egg collection facilities, and then incubation facilities. Then transportation of the chicks in specially made boxes.

The chicks at the industrial site need warmth and light or else they will die. The air must be moved by fans if it gets too warm. They need food to eat. Their water must be clean and on demand. Their waste must be removed on a regular basis.

Turkeys have a big obvious impact because of Thanksgiving, but this pertains to chickens also. The industrial site now has 12-14 pound turkeys and it is two weeks before the holiday. Slaughtering 200,000 turkeys is a big job, (I kill my own home grown turkeys and chickens and it takes me about 5 hours to process 18 chickens from squawk to freezer). At the industrial level, the adult turkeys need transportation from the warehouse in which they have grown, to the slaughterhouse. This slaughterhouse must deal with the feathers from 200,000 turkeys, they must be able to deal with the visera and offal. This slaughterhouse must be able to kill and process these 200,000 birds in an expeditious and timely manner, clean and disease free. They must have bagging facilities, a stock of plastic bags, and freezer units capable of freezing and storing the 200,000 birds.

Then those birds must be taken to food distribution warehouses. Then to your store. Then to your house.

I'm not even touching upon the monetary movement that is intimately connected with every bird from egg to table as your Thanksgiving turkey. The currency movement is facilitated by telecommunications, credit at banks, stock exchanges. The cost of the birds is determined largely by grain futures, meat futures, cost of transportation, cost of electricity, cost of money, cost of labor.

Now animal food of all types. I know this because I've participated and I have a reliable connection within the Calif Dept of Agriculture Animal Division. All commercial food is a mixture of grains, animal excretia, antibiotics, and ground up dead animals (unused beef, pig, chicken, turkey, sheep parts, and horses) from the slaughterhouses and from county dog pounds. These animal remains are processed so that no disease can be passed on to the eating animal. Yet, as we now know, because of the prion based "mad cow" disease in Britain, that process of killing the bugs in the dead meat is not always 100% effective. These recycling practices bring the cost of animal food down to the point where you and I can actually afford meat.

Now I personally see quite a few possible places where bad y2k glitches could happen.


I also have family involved in big wheat business, spent four years with them, and worked the land and harvested.

Grain production these days is just another industrial process. Enough wheat and barley and oat seed is usually kept on hand by the farmer for next years crop. But new seed for planting is bought about every 5 years. Soybeans are controlled completely by the govt, they ship the seeds to the farmer every year and demand the total crop. As I found out a few weeks back, this is because soybeans are patented, if I remember right.

There is an intricate web surrounding grain production. The local banks are part of that web, but just a minor part these days compared to 30 or 40 years ago. Govt subsidies, without which we would not have cheap grain, tax laws for equipment depreciation, govt insurance against crop loss from weather or pests are big aspects in todays agribusiness. The fertilizer industry, the pesticide industry are both intimately involved. The grain futures markets in Chicago must function perfectly to balance out the banks, govt, and food processing businesses. Fuel is a major cost. Machine manufacturing is a vector. Harvest is now performed in the grain belt of the US by contract labor who have their own machinery; they begin in the South and move North as the grain ripens. Few farmers have their own harvesting equipment now.

Grain production and agribusiness in general is a highly leveraged structure. Not only within the cost and payments structure, but growing, transportation, and storage. The banks must be working perfectly, the futures markets, the railroads, the wholesale facilities, the processing mills, the trucking & rail transportation, the equipment manufacturing plants, etc.

In addition because we practice monoculture agriculture using green revolution seeds there are two additional risks which aren't directly related to y2k now, but could be. Monoculture agriculture is wide open to disease and pests, this is a very well know fact. Green Revolution seeds are hybrid seeds which do not necessarily breed true, but must be continually bred into that genetic configuration. An interruption of the substructure that deals with the pests, allows these hybrid practices now, will result in poor in no or insufficient yield and hungry folks.

Even ground preparation itself is at y2k risk. Because of fuel, banking, transportation. An interruption of any of these will interrupt the plowing, summer fallowing, sprinkler irrigation. Without those the winter wheat crop could be interrupted, and the following spring wheat would not be able to go into the ground.

It is my hands on knowledge that tells me that food is a major y2k concern both here in the 1st world and in those countries who are not hyper-reliant upon computers. The vectors of y2k exposure are manifold.


Now as to whether or not meats and grains can be shipped in from other countries. Well, again this action will demand a near flawless infrastructure within the futures markets, domestic and international banking, domestic and international transportation, fuel, functional port facilities, functional wholesale nexus. It means that the large regional refrigeration facilities be functional and reliable. Mills must be functional.


Vegetable production, fruit production, nut production, dairy products are all highly vulnerable to y2k interruption, whether at primary location or distant infrastructure.

All of agriculture is also dependant upon the packaging industry. Paper and plastics products are in almost total use. In the vegetable industry these products are even used in the fields, not just in final packaging for store shelves.

Hope this helps form a bigger picture. Regards, Mitch

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), February 26, 1999.

Flint: Please think again....no one in the north america power grid will be allowed to "island" in my opinion. FEMA (along with the govts of canada and mexico) will be in charge of power generation and distribution. I believe that the large population centers will receive power, the critical places like hospitals,etc....then as things get more organized, the farmers will have a priority as to power and fuel. Most people will have to cut back and get used to brown-outs and periods of black-outs(hopefully scheduled ones). I do not see a good resolution as to power for at least 5 years... too many transportation(railroad,trucks,refinery,etc) problems... too many shut-in wells, and on and on. Hope I'm wrong.

-- jeanne (realistic@now.com), February 26, 1999.

It wouldn't take a 1-year blackout - 2 months would do the job quite nicely, thank you. Anything over that, and the chances of getting the juice back on in our lifetimes would be just about nil.

-- scooter (get@seeds.now), February 26, 1999.


I don't think I'm following you here. I agree that 'islanding' might not be allowed, although it is true that my local company has tested this option (along with all their other tests -- they're operating past 2000 with all their equipment now).

I also agree that power might be rationed, even here locally, according to a set of priorities (hospitals, then critical services like water, then residential, then farming, then industrial, etc.) There can also be scheduled power availability within the lower priorities.

But this is NOT a power failure to me. I interpreted 'a' as implying that date bugs would flat prevent the generation or distribution of ANY power, at least regionally. And that won't happen. If the choice really comes down to islands of power in some areas, or no power in any areas, you'll see islanding. Bet on it.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 26, 1999.

Neither Hamasaki or Yourdon have "predicted" famine. That's plain wrong. Not that it couldn't happen, it just isn't factual with respect to the title of this thread. Now, having said that .....

Mitchell -- With a family in dairy farming (not me, we just fool around, I did computers :-), your post was fascinating and chilling. As ALWAYS, when the systemic nature of Y2K is brought in, the foolishness of the isolated fix mentality is revealed starkly.

Interestingly, it doesn't matter what angle one "starts from", whether farming, power, finance, military, governments, etc., they always end up intertwining, which is precisely what one would expect of a systemic problem.

While Infomagic is treated by most these days as a joke, it remains to be seen whether or not the joke will be on us. Y2K could go from a 4 to a 10 in a three-month period, staying there for decades, and is *more likely* to do so as people (whether governments, businesses or posters on this NG) deride the very possibility (that is, refuse to think systemically).

Unfortunately, as people like Doug Carmichael point out, almost no one in our culture is "paid" to think in terms of systems (no, I don't mean the ludicrous tunnel vision of 99% of the world's so-called "system" programmers and their managers). That is why Y2K is a cultural problem first and foremost.

Whether or not North/Infomagic prove right about the consequences of Y2K, they have long been right about the systemic nature of it (which, even today, few grasp except in a head-nodding fashion) and the PERIL of it.

I hate to say thanks for scaring me to death one more time, but thanks for your post.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 26, 1999.

Flint and all: "power out" means power outages. US domestic.

-- a (a@a.a), February 26, 1999.

Big Dog:

What you try to pass off as systemic thinking is kind of amusing.

Look: For our economy to work, what Mitchell described is just a tiny microcosm. Everything has to be provided to everybody, at the right time, in the right quantities, of the right quality, and at the right price, every which way. The economic interdependencies and interrelationships boggle our best supercomputers. According to our idea of systemic thinking, an economy *ought* to be totally impossible. Just too many details, all tied together in too many ways, that all need to be just right. Yet economies happen, and they work.

The argument that y2k is invisible to the invisible hand just doesn't wash. Remediation isn't happening because of some master plan, nor have interfaces ever been decreed by some Master Coordinator. Any such office would frighten me more than y2k itself. There's an old saying that the great thing about standards is that we have so many to choose from. Complex adaptive systems are evolutionary. The potential for horrible things is always present, and quasi- sophisticated cases for collapse can be (and are always being) made. Gary North has made a good living mispredicting them for decades. And planned economies, even by brilliant planners, always fail.

The error is to expect failure because you can't predict how things will succeed. Economics isn't called the Dismal Science for nothing.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 26, 1999.


OK, you're on. Of course, probabilities are impossible to evaluate even in retrospect. If the weatherman says 10% chance of rain and it doesn't rain, he's right. If it does, he's right.

But I'd say 10% chance of 1 month power outage somewhere in the US. 0% chance of 1 year anywhere in the US. Zero percent means it won't happen, probabilities be damned.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 26, 1999.

"0% chance of 1 year anywhere in the US."

Flint ole buddy...I got a feeling this y2k thingy might just be the Big One. And power out in some areas for 1 year would only mean that our infrastructure/society were decimated to the level of Bosnia/Herzegovina a few year back. Think there's 0% chance of that?

-- a (a@a.a), February 26, 1999.


I'm assuming we're not Bosnia, and that we won't be fighting that kind of war for a year. Given these assumptions, I say 0%.

My opinion is that this isn't the Big One. But my personal preparations assume your assessment is correct. Why risk it?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 26, 1999.


Flint: What you try to pass off as systemic thinking is kind of amusing.

[Thanks. In this case, I take that as a compliment]

Look: For our economy to work, what Mitchell described is just a tiny microcosm. Everything has to be provided to everybody, at the right time, in the right quantities, of the right quality, and at the right price, every which way. The economic interdependencies and interrelationships boggle our best supercomputers.

[Yeah, agribusiness is just a slightly larger version of our family's 60-cow, one-person operation. As we say around here in hicksville: NOT. And your original point is ....]

According to our idea of systemic thinking, an economy *ought* to be totally impossible. Just too many details, all tied together in too many ways, that all need to be just right. Yet economies happen, and they work.

[Maybe your idea, Flint, not mine, I'm still waiting for the point?]

The argument that y2k is invisible to the invisible hand just doesn't wash.

[Invisible to the invisible hand .... wha?]

Remediation isn't happening because of some master plan, nor have interfaces ever been decreed by some Master Coordinator.

[And this truism implies ..... ?]

Any such office would frighten me more than y2k itself. There's an old saying that the great thing about standards is that we have so many to choose from.

[Yeah and it's wonderfully wrong AS IF the choice is "none" or "so many" but I'm still waiting ....]

Complex adaptive systems are evolutionary. The potential for horrible things is always present, and quasi- sophisticated cases for collapse can be (and are always being) made.

[OK, we're not into the GAIA hypothesis but we seem to be getting warm, finally]

Gary North has made a good living mispredicting them for decades.

[BINGO! Let's pummel the circus punching bag ONE MORE TIME]

And planned economies, even by brilliant planners, always fail. The error is to expect failure because you can't predict how things will succeed. Economics isn't called the Dismal Science for nothing.

[Flint, if you are trying to say that Mitchell's apparently "tiny microcosm" will be fixed by some nice ad-hoc community breeding, slaughtering and shipping of turkeys (hey, Joe, I've done five, how many have you done?), you've really slipped it.

Forget "the error": your error here is to jump on the concept "systemic" because, yikes, it happens that Gary North deserves genuine credit for spotting it early with Y2K. Sorry. That's just the way it goes.

And what any of this has to do with centrally planned remediation and/or command economies is a mystery I hope we won't have to plumb]

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 26, 1999.

Purchase seeds which you can grow by yourself. If you are in the middle of a large city, then try using containers slanted on a southern exposure. If you are living in the country, then grow for yourself and your neighbors.

We must help those who don't GI. GI?

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), February 26, 1999.

Big Dog:

I don't understand your recent "I disagree so you shut up" approach to communication. Are you feeling OK? Is it that time of the month? Have you decided that "attack first, think never" is best?

I was trying to point out that the system adapts. This happens because individuals everywhere find ways to do what needs to be done. It might be inefficient, but problems are usually temporary. If the old ways of doing things can't work, people find new ways. They don't give up and die, but they may struggle for a while.

An analysis like Mitchell's shows us how things work now. It doesn't show us how things can work, or might work. I certainly don't rule out a period of serious regrouping, in fact I expect it. And during that period the best many of us can do will be suboptimal, no question. I've already estimated a 5-10 year recovery period.

If you can't see Gary North as someone with an opaque crystal ball and an axe to grind, that's your problem. OK, his latest Great White Hope for the end of this immoral society and the inception of his theocracy overlaps your belief in the immenent death of what you seem to think is a rigid, brittle and doomed system. I suspect that in 2 years you'll feel the same way, simply convinced that y2k wasn't what it took. But next year (2003?) Yep, the monsters will come out from under the bed for sure.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 26, 1999.

Diane B. Nice thought that hunters will help agument the food supply. However, as I recall, about 60% of the people live in cities . Wonder what ( OR WHO ) they will be hunting ?? Got to find a source of beans. Got mouse traps ??? Eagle

-- Harold Walker (e999eagle@freewwweb.com), February 26, 1999.


Infomagic points out (correctly, from what I've read) that during the depression, game got pretty will wiped out pretty quickly. After that, hunting was moot.

There are just too many of us, and not enough wilderness, to live off the fat of the land. The land just ain't got enough fat left nowadays.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 26, 1999.

Flint, Jean - informed word on the street here in DC is that some locales (including and most specificly the District of Columbia) *will* be allowed to island - in the local case to preserve the physical integrity of fedgov operations. This does NOT, however mean that there will be no food problems in these areas, since the urban areas do not generally produce sufficient food in and of themselves to support their populations, and islanding guarantees that there will be severe power problems in other areas of the grid...go back and look at the spreadsheets NERC has been misinterpretting to see where the slow-starters are on remediation.

Flint - also it was *large game* (i.e. deer and the like) which were wiped out during the great depression.

got snares?


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), February 27, 1999.

Need Opinions.... For those of us in relatively rural areas, y2k will be rough. For those in the cities, any failure of the infrastructure will be potentially fatal. This is where FEMA could potentially step in. My definition of famine is when me and mine don't have enough to eat---regardless of what is happening in NY or FLA. The whole infrastructure is so fragile that problems in the Napa Valley could cause problems in New York. The major incidents will of course occur in the cities. A prime example is the famine that occured in Central America after the hurricane. Another example of what can happen is Somalia. There, despite our best efforts to avert it by shipping food, you saw riots, looting, famine and death. And they don't have that big of population centers. My answer to DGI's about my food storage is "If nothing happens, we'll eat well for 5-6 months. If TSHTF, we'll eat good for 5-6 months". The problem you face is not storing food enough to keep you alive, it's storing food in adequate quantity to allow you to perform hard physical labor that will keep you alive. If it goes down, you're not going to be able to just sit back, eat Twinkies and wait. If it's that bad, you'd better be prepared to work because you have 2001 to worry about...and 2002, and 2003 etc. Good Luck Check six Lobo

-- Lobo (hiding@woods.com), February 27, 1999.

One of the problems in many food storage regimens designed by civilians (us) without adequate thought is that we look at current at- home use and forget the following:

1) we eat out a LOT

2) we are not burning anywhere NEAR the calories we will if we have major problems.

We can address the first one easily enough by actually planning sample menus for a week, multiply, and consider getting a new basement to hold it all (LOL).

The second takes some serious thought. As anyone who has gone on a 2- 3 week canoe trip or a 3-5 day winter camping trip can tell you, the business of staying alive takes a LOT of calories. I live on about 2750-3000 a day, which maintains my 5'6" frame at a slightly overweight 170, in my current profession, of driver. When I go winter camping, I PLAN on a 6500 calorie per day intake, lose about a pound a day, and don't have a lot of food left.

Canoe tripping I plan on about 4500, probably intake 5000 and don't gain or lose anything.

If you are doing any true labor, and trust me, you ARE going to do real WORK, your current intake will NOT support you. If it's a bit colder in the house (alternative heating system) you will require more food. People nowadays have NO CLUE as to how much WORK it is/will be to simply live. Hand grinding the grain for bread is going to be a not quite zero sum game in terms of calories. Washing clothes, doing cooking, maintaining heat in the house, all will be WORK then, and will take LARGE chunks of time.

Chuck, got MORE food?

-- Chuck, night driver (rienzoo@en.com), February 27, 1999.


I think that after your body makes the adjustment to the change in activity, ie.gains muscle mass, it will work much more efficiently.

BTW Chuck this is the U.S.of A. don't worry! I'm sure the Red Cross will feed us. Standing in soup lines doesn't take too many calories! ;-)

-- Deborah, who somestimes tries to be funny (bombs@most.times), February 27, 1999.

Chuck, you are absolutely right about the need to plan for higher than normal calorie consumption. Have been pounding on that one for months and most people just DGI.

Sent the following out on 13Sep98

All too often when discussing Food Chain interruption I here the response, "well, I'll just go shot a deer, I'm a good shot." Inevitably, these are people who are currently refusing to store grains and don't have a good garden.

When I say there aren't enough deer, inevitably I am told there are a lot of deer.

Enough to feed even a small town for more than a week? Even if you add if wildfowl? Horses, cattle, goats, dogs, cats, rats, mice, frogs, newts?

If the Food Chain goes down that means no refrigeration more than likely. So the animal is going to have to be consumed within a few days.

The Calif Sierra deer dress out, for ease of computation, at about 100 pounds of meat. Your dogs get the innerds, if your dogs haven't been eaten yet, after that, you get the innerds. You eat 3 pounds of meat a day, we will say.

Some fast and dirty computations:

Inefficient way: 1 person 100 lbs spoiled in 10 days eaten 30 lbs wasted 70 lbs Efficient way: 3 people 100 lbs spoiled in 10 days eaten 90 lbs wasted 10 lbs (or less)

It would appear then that one deer for 3 people every 4th day. 3 people - 7.5 deer a month - 90 deer a year

Village of 75 people - 187 deer a month - 2250 deer a year

Greater Sacramento urban area - 2 million people - 5 million deer a month - 60 million deer a year

Greater San Francisco Bay Area - 7.5 Million people.


-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), February 27, 1999.

http://www.y2ktimebomb.com/Industry/Agriculture/agri9815.htm April 15, 1998

Y2K and Agriculture: Potential Effects and Consequences

When considering the Y2K Problem, most people think about its impact on the economy. This fear of a recession or a decrease in services or income is certainly a valid concern. Almost all of today's livelihoods, from stock trading to truck driving depend on computers and therefore almost all will be affected.

However what most people, at least in developed countries, take for granted is the fact that while they may lose money with the Year 2000 Problem, they will always be able to put food on their table. But what if there is no food to buy, no matter how much money they may have? With the agricultural industry's dependency on computer technology to produce and distribute food, the possibility of a major food shortage does deserve some consideration.

Modern day farming is a corporate business. Agricultural products are stock market commodities which are bought and sold. In order for these products to reach the consumer, they must be traded. Delivering them to the consumer is a long intricate process of transactions: from the producer to the wholesaler, from the wholesaler to the distributor, from the distributor to the local retailer who in turn sells it to the consumer.

All of these transfers are dependent on computer transactions. If one link in this modern day "food chain" should break, the whole process will likely fail. For example, if the wholesaler is not able to purchase the shipments of grapefruits from the farmer, the crates of perishable Ruby Reds will rot in the warehouse. If the farmer is unable to sell his crop, he will not make money. Without that money, the farmer will go bankrupt and not be able to grow next season, thereby setting of a chain reaction that will end in one less farmer growing grapefruit. One after another, each business will fold if it is not able to sell its goods.

While grapefruits are hardly necessary for survival, imagine what would happen if a year's corn or wheat crop encountered the same problem. A shortage of these crops, which are indeed necessary for production of dietary staples such as bread, could spell disaster for many communities in America and around the world. Given the nature of today's market, in which very often food is delivered in relatively small amounts in order to avoid surplus, what little remains on the shelves will disappear in a matter of days.

For example, most U.S. cities have approximately 72-hour's worth of food within their borders. The U.S. as a whole only has a three-month supply. Even with a rationing system in place, necessities such as bread could become virtually non-existent or at least prohibitively expensive.

This is just the U.S., where the implications of a food shortage are small when compared to a food shortage in Third World countries. The U.S. would be able to recover from a shortage much quicker than the Third World. In this hypothetical situation, the U.S. would have to "circle the wagons" and reserve what little resources it had for itself in order to make it through the crisis while Third World countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Angola, and Haiti, which depend on food subsidies and other humanitarian aid from the West would suffer unfathomable consequences from a disruption in the food chain. Their already shaky governments could easily be toppled if the citizens faced mass starvation. Mass exoduses from the starving countries could resort thereby spreading the instability to their neighbors.

Other more independent countries in the Third World which do not rely on food aid from the West could nevertheless also face famine and civil unrest. Because of the Green Revolution introduced by Western countries in the second half of the Twentieth Century, which used products such as petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers to maximize crop yield, these "independent" Third World countries would be at the mercy of the ability of Western suppliers to deliver their necessary chemicals. Since the production of these chemicals could be interrupted by breakdowns in their factories due to embedded chip malfunctions, there exists a strong danger that Third World agricultural production would be severely limited.

Also, under this relatively new system of production, the farmers depend on hybrid seeds to grow their crops. These seeds, which cannot be warehoused due to their perishable nature and must be imported due to the fact that they do not reproduce from one year's crop to the next, are delivered in the early part of the year. In 2000, the part of the year that will be most affected by Y2K disruptions will be this crucial time. Logically, these disruptions have the potentially disastrous possibility of preventing the planting of an entire year's crops, thereby extending the Y2K recovery time for another year, with major indirect fallout to follow from this disruption for many years to come.

Seen in this light, the possibility of agricultural disruption from Y2K poses a serious threat, perhaps a threat more serious than any other aspect of the problem. The key to preventing this disaster will be insuring that the primary avenues of distribution remain open. Also, seeing as not every contingency can be accounted for, planning for some sort of disaster relief in those areas seen to be most susceptible to Y2K disruptions would be a good idea. It is up to the more technologically advanced West, which brought this economic system to the world, to rise up to this challenge.

John Yellig

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), February 27, 1999.


As an example of just how many more calories someone might expect to need, I can relate to military experience. In colder climates, say Iceland for example, for personnel performing the same work that they did in the states, rations were doubled. That was just to provide the energy for the folks to keep warm while they carried out thier normal duties.

Imagine the caloric intake increase people changing from office worker to "home farmer" will require. Guess there won't be much of a demand for fitness clubs. Like in olden days, a few extra pounds will be the sign of a prosperous family.


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), February 27, 1999.

Another joke. The white collar work force adapting to physical labor. Look around, count how many are in shape. How many can truly adapt? Habit, inclination and coordination are working against them. It takes time, toughness, and HIGH quality PROTEIN to rebuild a body. Maybe, a 5% success rate.

-- curtis schalek (schale1@ibm.net), February 27, 1999.

In December of any year, the grain storage areas all over the US are full to the bursting point. We export twice as much as we use, and don't clear the ports till May or June. Ever notice that most all the real doom types claim something will fail in an area OUTSIDE their area of expertise? We will be just fine in (fill in the blank, that is what I work in) but I am afraid of what will happen in (fill in the blank, I am clueless in this area).

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), February 27, 1999.

Will there be famine? It depends on how many survivors there are. A lot of people are going to die. Millions and millions. It'll happen very fast seemingly. A temporary food shortage without water is the quick kill.

People who prepared are left standing.

AFTER the "quick kill" will there be famine? Obviously people who prepared would not be classified as being in a famine. Some may even put on the pot belly.

Probably this summer onward there will be rationing and chronic hunger as supplies are jammed etc.,

Weakened people who will then face a few "quick kills."

No, there won't be a famine.

The question to ask is: Any chance the world is in cohorts to use Y2K to reduce the global population (And nationally)? I think so.

Who is wanted alive? Is there a way to hand pick the survivors?

They have to be able to THINK. They have to be able to cope, read, and intellectualize complicated information. They have to have an open mind. They cannot be the lazy but have to be "go getters." They have to be able to plan and sacrifice for those plans if need be. They have to be alert. They have to be strong and go against the grain.

Yeah, I can see the profile of the survivors the world would want.

-- No Matter (nomatter@whatever.com), February 28, 1999.

Paul Davis, please comment upon my Food Chain essay. And if you would, comment up Yellig's essay too.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), February 28, 1999.

I'll comment as soon as I get time - got real busy here all of a sudden last Friday. But the real flaw in the famine argument is calories - you are looking at parts of the food supply and not taking in the whole picture. IF (a real big if here) Y2K caused interruptions serious enough to prevent various types of food from being grown famine would still not result for a long time as we have calories enough and more stored as grain. Figures later - probably posted as a new question - as I said I am real busy right now.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), March 02, 1999.

Paul Davis: from a global perspective, there's plenty of food now, and also starvation. Distribution (infrastructure and economics) is everything.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), March 02, 1999.

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