Jan 17, 2011
The Food Bubble
The world is steadily moving towards a full-on food crisis. During the past year, global crop yields have suddenly declined. I've been watching grain production for decades, and I've never seen a time when bad luck seemed to be the only bumper crop.
In my October NM update, I listed seven events that have occurred in 2010. Those reports dated from last summer. We're months away from a full year of misery, and here are three more events to add to the list:
Last week, the U.S. government surprised traders by cutting stock forecasts for key crops, sending corn and soybean prices to their highest levels in thirty months.
Argentina is feeling the effect of the la nina weather phenomenon on cash crops that are likely to have sharply lower yields because of low rainfall totals.
Australia’s Queensland district has been hit by massive flooding. The devastation is so vast, it will take months
to measure the impact on that nation's food production. The flood has already left nations such as number-two wheat importer Indonesia searching for supplies.
Corn stockpiles are among the lowest levels ever recorded. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a report that shows just 745 million bushels of corn will be stockpiled by August of this year. That's down from about 1 billion bushels in August 2010. Our stockpile level is now at 6 percent. Normally, we like to keep those levels above 10 percent.
Our problem with food supply is not just the result of short-term weather issues. The global demand for grain has been rising, pushed up by population growth and the switch to more meat-heavy diets. Urban development, particularly in the third world, has steadily taken land out of production.
Grain production can only increase by so much. We have made amazing strides towards increasing yields, but this trend cannot continue. One of biggest problems is limited water. Some of earth's most populous nations are facing an irrigation crisis. India has essentially tapped dry the water table in its main agricultural regions since embracing industrial agriculture in the 1970s. In China, 130 million people owe their sustenance to grain produced by over pumping groundwater.
Global food prices have spiked to near all-time highs. The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization warned last week that the world could see a repetition of the 2008 food crisis if prices rise further. Price hikes have already led to riots in Algeria, Mozambique, and Tunisia.
I recently learned that the survival food business is experiencing a huge boom. The makers of freeze-dried goods have such a huge backlog of sales, they are warning customers that they may have to wait as long as forty-five days before their orders get filled. I recently spoke with a representative of one firm, and he told me that this is their busiest time since the days before Y2K.
Most people don't realize that mankind has been in a food bubble during the past few centuries. It wasn't until the twentieth century that the availability of food was replaced as one of life’s top priorities. In the western world, people in our generation are more worried about whether they have the latest and greatest smart phone than they are about where their next meal is coming from.
Right now, there is only a fifty-three-day supply of food in our nation. The shelves at Wal-Mart and other large retailers may seem endless, but that is only an illusion. Since there are no warehouses in the back of stores today, the shelves would quickly empty in any type of emergency.
My study of Bible prophecy has me very concerned about food production. We are already warned that the Tribulation hour will be a time for profound famine. The birth pangs are probably a more immediate concern. Farming requires relatively stable weather conditions, so our closeness to the end times may be the source of our current problems. Since our earthly bread is doomed to be in short supply, it would be wise of us to place our trust in the One who came as the Bread of Life.
“When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!’” (Revelation 6:5-6).
Scanning a Fearful Future: Part 9
Jesus Christ–God in the flesh—foretold that the time just before God’s judgment and wrath befall rebellious mankind at the very end of the Church Age will be like it was in the days of Noah and of Lot. Although those times were wicked and all thoughts were focused continually on evil, people of the earth were carrying on with normal activities like eating, drinking, planting, building, marrying, buying, and selling.
In the days of Noah, earth dwellers were carrying on business as usual right up until the moment that Noah entered the ark and all who were left on earth were swept away by the Flood. In the days of Lot, there was an air of civility, with Lot even serving as a judge at the city gates during the day. At night, however, the depravity ran rampant when homosexual lust turned to voracious, predatory assault. Lot and his family members were removed, and all people who were left behind in the city were consumed by the holocaust from heaven.
Jesus said He will be revealed when conditions are like they were during those times. We have seen that the time when He intervenes into the affairs of mankind as described in Luke 17:26-30 will not be His Second Coming at Armageddon (Revelation 19:11). It will be another, earlier intervention--but catastrophic, nonetheless.
We have pointed out many times in these commentaries the strangeness of the dynamics of our times. Crises are building in many critical aspects of human interaction. We have wondered in amazement at the insanity of the dastardly mismanagement of economic matters by governments around the world. How, we puzzle over, have the economies of America and the world avoided crashing?
Why, despite threats of the destruction of Israel by the likes of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear production facilities not occurred? Why, with the tremendous buildup of arms by the many Islamic Israel-haters in obvious preparation for an attack on the Jewish state, has there not been a major blow-up in the Middle East that would disrupt world stability?
Yet the anxieties about the world sitting on a number of powder kegs afflict only a few people, relatively speaking. Except for those who are unemployed in America, for example, it’s business as usual. The majority of people just don’t worry about the precarious position of the nation and the world. The masses are buying, selling, marrying–even men with men and women with women, I might add. And building continues, despite the housing debacle and trillions of dollars of debt wrought by monetary madness such as that found in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Most troubling, the church in America–and I am referring to those who are born again (see John 3: 3)—is, for the most part, oblivious to world conditions that present strong evidence that we are on the brink of the prophesied apocalypse. This makes this generation of Christians precisely the generation I believe Jesus was speaking prophetically to when He said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).
But, as we have been examining, there are those who are scanning the fearful future. Glenn Beck, the Fox News program host, says he sees coming a man-contrived world economic collapse, hyperinflation, and societal collapse that only patriotic, sound-thinking, even spiritually-inclined Americans can begin to fix. He doesn’t know when it will happen, but, he says, it will happen almost overnight. We will awaken the next morning to a world totally different than what it was before we went to sleep.
Hal Lindsey, the author of The Late, Great Planet Earth, says much the same thing. He foresees, as a part of that feared socioeconomic collapse, severe persecution for Christians in America at some point.
Jesus’ words, which I believe speak directly to this generation, present a different picture than Beck’s forecast (and to some extent, than Lindsey’s) regarding things about to break upon a mostly unsuspecting world. My own thoughts that follow are based upon what I believe is wrapped up in the Lord’s forewarning to our generation in Luke 17: 26-30.
Two statements are necessary at this point. First, it is God’s staying hand that prevents the impending calamities outlined in this essay from collapsing America and the world into the worst times in history. Second, if things continue on their present course geopolitically and socioeconomically–and if God takes His hand of control off developments--the collapse feared by Beck, Lindsey, and many others will certainly come at some point. The longer the rebellion-engendered crises build, the more devastating will be the crash when it comes.
I begin my analysis of what lies just ahead in that fearful future about which Beck, Lindsey, and others have conjectured, and over which so many emailers have fretted. Again, I believe that the answers reside cocooned within Jesus’ "days of Noah, days of Lot" prophecy. Now, we apply His analogy to the present generation.
Jesus foretold that human activity will be going along in a business-as-usual manner. God, in one day, will take His family–believers—out of harm’s way. That very day, His judgment and wrath will begin falling on those not taken. To reiterate because the point can’t be overemphasized: If one accepts Christ’s words as true, and as literal, as I do, one must agree that things must be going along as normal for the time when the sudden intervention happens. Jesus plainly says that the generation alive at the time of that divine intervention will be removed to safety before the devastating events of judgment take place.
Both Beck and Lindsey say they believe a world-rending socioeconomic collapse is imminent. Beck, at least, believes the crash and totally changed America and world will be brought about by the diabolical efforts of New-World-Order types like George Soros. Both Beck and Lindsey are recommending that we make preparations to survive that coming time of devastating collapse.
Yet Jesus tells us that it will be business as usual right up until the moment He removes believers from the planet. There is no man-made, worldwide catastrophe in Christ’s prophecy. As a matter of fact, Jesus says all will be relatively normal, in terms of human activity, until that removal. Then He will be revealed by way of His cataclysmic judgment that begins to devastate planet earth. It is God who causes the cataclysm, not George Soros or any other human or other entity. Mankind’s involvement in the whole matter is that of displaying total rebellion and refusing to repent of sin, thus bringing on God’s righteous judgment. One era–the Church Age—comes to an end with the removal of believers. The next era then begins at some point with the confirming of the covenant with Israel, as given in Daniel 9:26-27. That period will be the seven years of Tribulation, the last three and one-half years about which Jesus said: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew24: 21).
Next we will look into the fearful future, specifically as it relates directly to America’s near-term financial destiny and to whether believers will face deadly persecution.