Phase Apocalypse: Starvation

NEW – October 22, 2022

There are serious grounds on the horizon of two to five years to expect serious problems in the world food market

The markets are very diverse. Many of them seem important, significant, and have a very high capitalisation, but if a serious catastrophe occurs, it’s possible to safely do without them for at least several years, or even decades. Examples: markets for computers, home appliances, and sports equipment. Even books and children’s toys. The quality of life without these products will fall sharply, and a “black market” will definitely appear, where they can still be purchased ‑ of course, at exorbitant prices (at the turn of the 1980s–1990s, TV VCR players in the USSR/Russia were sold at the price of a one-room apartment), but the absence of these products and many others like them does not affect survival.

And what influences it?

Homeless people answer this question better than experts: “First heat, then light, then food. It’s possible to do without everything else, even without clothes.” This is a real-life survival experience, not a Maslow pyramid-type speculation, so there is no mention of “security” or “social acceptance”. Only about what’s really important. These are heat and electricity generating capacities and food.

If we move from the level of an individual to some sort of even minimal social organisation, tools, arable land, water, and seed stock will be added to the list. When all this is present, society can survive.

All this means that the two markets – food and energy – are ubiquitous. With a food allowance of two kilograms per day in weight equivalent, we get a food market capacity of five billion tons per year. The calculation of annual food production confirms this figure: 1.5 billion tons of grain, 0.8 billion tons of fruit, 1.15 billion tons of vegetables, 0.7 billion tons of protein and fat, then sugar and “feed” cereals.

In principle, the balance is respected, there is even a small reserve. But the reserve is minimal, and the physical volume of the market is very large. And the totality and inclusiveness of this market is very important. This means that the main food items (grains, vegetables, milk, and meat) belong to goods of inelastic demand.

Suppose a car costs $20,000, and this is the equilibrium price at which supply and demand roughly correspond to each other. Even if for some reason ‑ a strike at a large factory, failure to receive components due to “sanctions” or logistics failures, etc. – the supply of cars on the market decreased by 10% at once. No catastrophe will happen. The price will increase by the same 10%, or even less, some potential buyers will be left without a car this year and will wait for supply fluctuations in the other direction, the rest will slightly overpay — and that’s all. A car, of course, is not a luxury item, but a means of transportation (© O. Bender), but it’s possible to do without it, which makes a car a product of elastic demand.

Now let the same thing happen to one of the key food items. There was a noticeable shortage of it. Unfortunately, people can’t wait a year or two for the market situation to change. Immediately there will be a rush of demand, some will buy food, some will be left without it. Prices will go up sharply and if the market is unbalanced by 10%, they may soar “significantly”. This is called inelastic demand.

We had the opportunity to observe all this — at the beginning of the coronavirus epic, in the spring of 2020, and at the beginning of the Special Military Operation — in the spring of 2022. In both cases, the panic was short-lived, and prices quickly began to decline. But in both cases, there was no actual food catastrophe. Prices fell because retailers quickly unloaded warehouses and loaded store shelves, there was no real shortage of food and was not expected.

My generation remembers the 1990s, when grocery store shelves were empty, food was rationed, and meat ration cards could only be bought on the first day. The queues were occupied from early morning. Of course, everything could be bought on the market, but market prices were completely unaffordable for the population. As a result, mortality increased in Russia, the birth rate decreased (the so-called “demographic hole of the 1990s” [1]) and, which is an impossible event for an industrial society and can be considered as a marker of a social catastrophe, an outflow of the population from cities to the countryside began [2]. The phenomenon of the 1990s in Russia is not limited to a food disaster, but its role in the demographic losses of the country, apparently, was decisive. Again, we note that there was no starvation as such in the 1990s, there was only an imbalance in the food market, largely due to violations of logistics due to the collapse of the USSR.

The inelasticity of the food market leads to very serious consequences of even small fluctuations in this market, and the huge physical volume of transported goods means that it is impossible to quickly solve the problems that have arisen. In addition, the same volume does not make it possible to create significant food reserves. Today, only China has food reserves for two years. This, of course, is a huge achievement of the country’s leadership, but the question is legitimate: what if the starvation continues for more than two years?

Unfortunately, we can’t rule out this possibility.

Moreover, we have to consider it quite probable.

About the concept of a phase crisis

Specific and anthropological changes in the Homo Sapiens species lead to anthropo-catastrophes of the highest level, but these crises with a characteristic duration of tens of thousands to a million years go beyond the limits reflected by modern Humanity.

But we can track social crises. All of them are repeated in one form or another, but from a practical point of view, the name “cyclical” should be left for short-term crises: the cycles of Zhuglyar, Kondratiyev, Arrighi, technological waves. For crises separated by intervals of hundreds and thousands of years, we will use the designation “structural“.

Scheme 1 – the relationship between crises of different hierarchical levels

It is possible to trace the correspondence between the phase crisis, the crisis of the technological order and the crisis of the socio-economic formation (scheme 1).

– Phase development is fixed in place by the nature of the interaction of Humanity (a sociosystem as a specific ecosystem that consumes information and converts it into other resources) with the biosphere. The mechanism of this interaction depends on the production method. The method of production determines the characteristic speeds and energies, the organisation’s formats, and indirectly – the features of language and culture. That is, the development phase — this is a mode of production in the sociosystem view.

– Socio-economic formation is understood as a system of relations between property classes. It also depends on the specifics of production and can be considered as a mode of production in the political economic view.

– Technological structure — this is a mode of production, defined through key technologies and technological packages, structural materials, formats of organisation of activities. That is, it is a mode of production in the technological view.

This model is hierarchical, so higher-level crises include lower-level ones. In other words, the phase crisis combines systemic, ethno-cultural, economic and military crises.

The essence of the phase crisis is the collision of the sociosystem with the development barrier. It can be thought of as an ordinary physical potential barrier. In sociosystem formalism, the next phase is more complex than the previous one. This complexity must first be taken from somewhere and stored somewhere, and then also converted into development, that is, into changing the formats of activity, knowledge, education, management, and public institutions. Such conversion, of course, is far from 100% efficient. The released passionary energy turns out to be, in fact, the energy of destruction. It goes to “social heating”, that is, to political struggle, boundless competition with the destruction of conditions for the reproduction of systems of activity, external and internal war.

Simply put, new social mechanisms are at the initial stage only opportunities that are either realised or not. At the same time, they will start working “sometime later”, while the old, familiar mechanisms are already failing. A gap is inevitable: England first lost food independence (“sheep ate people”), and only then became the “workshop of the world”, providing itself with food in excess due to unequal exchange with surrounding countries.

The barrier initially manifests itself as a slowing down of development. Then, as an increase, seemingly random, of unfavourable situations and catastrophes. Then the economic, political, legal, cultural, and social mechanisms that have been working for centuries begin to fail. Social sustainability falls. And against this background, technological trends continue to unfold that are incompatible with the current phase of development.

The phase transition can be schematised as follows (scheme 2, where time is plotted on the X-axis, and a conditional characteristic describing the development of society is plotted on the Y-axis).

Scheme 2 – phase crisis: transition between phases of societal development

The first result of the collision of a society with a phase barrier is barrier inhibition — the rate of development begins to fall, society “cannot move” – like a person trapped in a viscous environment.

The phase crisis itself begins at the moment when the “era of stagnation” is suddenly replaced by “perestroika”. All parameters describing society oscillate. These fluctuations manifest themselves as a series of crises, the intervals between which are shortened. Fluctuations are superimposed on a general downward trend: that is, although falls alternate with ups, on average, society loses more than it gains.

Fluctuating processes can continue for quite a long time, but once a society enters the fluctuation zone, it can no longer get out of it, and in this model, the first clearly manifested short-period (typical duration – a year or less) crisis marks the “point of no return”. Gradually, economic fluctuations lead to a weakening of all public relations. This manifests itself as a regression of all forms of social activity. As a result, one of the key economic, political or cultural mechanisms for a given society breaks down, and the production system loses its ability to support the accepted life formats. At this point, a phase catastrophe actually occurs. The complexity of society and the quality of life fall several-fold, organisations are destroyed, and the usual forms of activity cease to reproduce. The catastrophe is not instantaneous, but it occurs quite quickly, usually in two or three generations or even faster.

A dark age comes. For some time, the quality of life continues to fall only because of inertia. Then the process of very slow development begins. Gradually, as new organisational structures are formed, a phase revival begins in society. If the development trends that led to the crisis of the development phase have persisted throughout the entire previous time (deceleration, oscillations, catastrophe, intertemporality), the revival initiates the emergence of the embryos of a new phase. As a result, the world once again loses its definiteness: oscillation starts again, but this time not on a downtrend, but on an uptrend. Systemic instabilities form critical structures and critical activities of a new phase, after which the society “calms down” and enters a period of new extensive development.

It is essential that the previous phase always ends with a higher level of development than the next one begins. This is a phenomenon – phase hysteresis – due to the fact that social energy is transformed into new organisations with a certain efficiency, which is far from absolute.

READ:  The Russian World

It is clear that a phase crisis does not always lead to the emergence of a new phase. First of all, a phase catastrophe can take on a global character: social parameters will drop to zero, which means the physical death of this system: “everyone is dead”. Secondly, the accumulated social energy may not be enough, as a result of which development trends that are incompatible with the previous phase will be “lost” in the dark age.

From a formal point of view, every phase crisis is the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Plague, War, Starvation, and Death. They can come in any order.

The topic of this article is Starvation. In the phase crisis of the 2020s, it will probably become the third horseman of the Apocalypse: behind the pandemic (COVID-19 infodemic) and the beginning of the period of proxy conflicts and wars in 2022.

Starvation in previous phase crises

We have little to say about the earliest phase crises in human history. But already the Mesolithic crisis allows us to draw some conclusions. The heyday of the Mesolithic coincided with the Allerød warming. Then, over the course of a thousand years, there were three cumulative events that caused a cold snap: the eruption of the Laach supervolcano (the last eruption of a supervolcano in Central Europe), the eruption of Lake Superior and the formation of the St. Lawrence River, and the descent of the Baltic Ice Lake. As a result, firstly, the flow of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface decreased due to the dustiness of the atmosphere with volcanic ash, and secondly, about 9,500 cubic kilometres of ice water were dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. This caused a failure of the oceanic thermohaline circulation and triggered the cooling mechanism. The cold and dry climate of the late Dryas led to a significant decrease in the ecological capacity of the Mediterranean and European territories and caused starvation.

In fact, we do not know how much the population declined during the Mesolithic catastrophe — the paleodemographic data has too high a margin of error. It is a fairly common hypothesis that in the late Dryas, the population of the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe became three times smaller than during the Allerød warming.

We know almost nothing about the Neolithic crisis that led to the creation of the Great River civilisations. But there is enough information about the Bronze Collapse of the 12th-11th centuries BC, during which almost all the cultures of the “fertile crescent” were destroyed, writing was lost in many regions, the population, for example, the Peloponnese, was reduced, according to modern estimates, three-fold, and the dark age lasted about 400 years. In the Bronze Age crisis, the defining element that caused the catastrophe was war. The role of hunger seems secondary, but there are two important things to keep in mind:

– A cold snap in the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the 12th century BC led to increased crop failures and a general shortage of grain. We cannot say with certainty that this provoked a war, but in any case, it affected the transition from a normal international conflict to a total catastrophe.

– It is impossible to reduce the population threefold due to military operations. Such a deep “demographic hole” can only be explained by hunger. And here it is precisely the case that there is little written evidence of a real social catastrophe.

The ancient catastrophe of the 5th-6th centuries AD developed primarily as a disaster of control mechanisms. Here the destruction of demographics – Death – happened before wars, starvation and epidemics. However, the cooling of 535–536, which began the Late Antique Little Ice Age, put an end to hopes for a “short dark age” and a quick exit from the phase catastrophe. The cold snap led to starvation in Europe and China. In Norway, 40% of farms were abandoned. The population of Europe within the boundaries of the Western Roman Empire was reduced from 39 to 10 million people (the plague played in this about the same role as the famine).

The crisis of the 14th century began with the great famine of 1315-1317, when, according to various estimates, from 10 to 25% of the urban population of Europe died [3]. Further, the food situation became less catastrophic (mainly due to the demographic decline and naturalisation of the economy), but literally in the next generation came the plague – the black death pandemic in Europe. The plague peaked in 1346-1353, killing 30 to 60% of the European population. The Great War (the Hundred Years’ War) began even earlier, in 1337, in 1340 there was a naval battle at Sluys, in 1346 there was the Battle of Crécy, and in 1356 the Battle of Poitiers. Nevertheless, the war dragged on for more than a century, acquiring all the features of the classic “phase war”, completely meaningless and leading only to the degradation of economic management. The losses in the war were much less than the losses from the plague, but the share of the dead knightly nobility was significant. In fact, there was a change in the ruling elite of England and France.

Thus, the mechanism of the crisis of the 14th century is as follows: (cold snap) – starvation – plague – war. The main social and demographic effect was caused by the plague.

Consideration of previous phase crises allows us to understand the mechanism (scheme 3) of a very rapid transition of society from the highest to the lowest stratum of existence.

Scheme 3 – the mechanism of development of the phase crisis

This is a positive feedback mechanism in each of the four circuits: managerial, financial, industrial, and agricultural, and the circuits are connected to each other by additional positive feedback loops. Triggering events are the crisis of elites or climate change. The crisis of elites provokes a deterioration of governance, which leads to a reduction in trade and a transition to a barter economy. Climate change causes a reduction in agricultural production, which affects all social contours.

Let’s summarise the interim results:

* A phase crisis is always associated with hunger, and hunger is invariably caused by a cold snap.

* Hunger is the main cause of the demographic pit of the phase crisis.

• The population decline characteristic of a phase crisis is from half to two-thirds of the initial (pre-crisis) population.

Structure of an arbitrary crisis

(1) A crisis is always preceded by prosperity. The higher the level of prosperity, the deeper the crisis and the faster it unfolds. We call this the “Joseph mechanism” of Genesis: first there must be fat years, so that then the skinny ones will come.

Why?

First of all, because the generation raised in conditions of prosperity is not ready for the challenge of the crisis. People do not respond to this challenge, do not believe in it and wait until the very end that it will somehow resolve itself. This applies primarily to the ruling elites.

After a successful childhood, they want new successes, conquests, and an increase in the quality of life. But the flywheel is spinning in the opposite direction, and a slow, calm, low-key game is needed to restore the situation, to slow down social disintegration.

Examples of such elites are numerous. Rome before the Civil Wars. Late 19th century Britain: the Victorian era brought up a generation that was unable to act intelligently during either the First World War or the interwar period. Germany failed to cope with defeat in the war, tried to replay it in a frankly hopeless situation, was smashed to smithereens and occupied.

Modern USA, world hegemon. What prosperity and what a great culture it was! And that the managerial elites are running this country now? They are not able to cope with a simple racial-ethnic revolt, let alone a phase crisis.

The essence of the “Joseph mechanism” is simple: the habit of prosperity creates certain types of elites, the people corresponding to these elites – and, in addition, gives rise to the “sustainable development” paradigm. When you hear the words “sustainability”, you should start thinking about archiving “everything”. Products, consumer goods, technologies, books… These words mean that the era of prosperity has begun, which will end in a crisis.

In times of prosperity, reservations are treated with contempt. The Japanese principle of organising production states that a good manager should not have warehouses. Everything comes (and goes) on time, nothing is stored, nothing is stocked up on. The Soviet Union, with its dead assets in factory warehouses, is considered a relic of the totalitarian past. Okay, factories, okay, product reserves – family financial reserves, averaged around the world, amounted to one monthly salary before the crisis of 2020 and were much less than the average debt load. That is, in essence, there were no reserves at all.

It turned out that one moderately cold winter was enough to leave Europe with almost no gas reserves in storage. This is called the “reasonable sufficiency concept”. Reserves “reasonably enough” will be enough for one local crisis, that is, for a year, and if to try very hard, then for two years. When a crisis occurs, reserves are spent and quickly depleted. Both the elites and the population are waiting for the crisis to end on its own, and they are not planning actions designed to last for decades, followed by a hundred-year depression.

When the crisis drags on, social stability declines, and the paradigm of “sustainable development” is suddenly replaced by the paradigm of “survival at all costs”. Here, the sovereignisation of regions takes place [4], and the “ascent of relics” begins, that is, the return to the social space of mechanisms and patterns that have long been pushed into the underground. The social temperature rises, and the general discontent of the population increases. A typical example here is not even Kazakhstan or Belarus, but the United States of America.

Then two options develop, both bad. Elites hold power in their hands at any cost, that is, destroying any sprouts of freethinking, not excluding technomancy or humanitarian technologies that can at least partially improve the overall situation. Or the revolutionary masses overthrow the elite that has lost all confidence (the Kiev scenario of 2014). There is no smell of revolution here: Karl Marx was right, and J. Jaurès convincingly proved this with a statistical analysis of pre-revolutionary France — meaningful revolutions always occur during an economic boom, and not at a late stage of decline, when social defragmentation has already begun. So instead of a revolution, there is a coup, and the same elites come to power, but of even worse quality.

In both cases — both when the masses are suppressed and when the elites are forcibly replaced — the feedback loop is closed. With each subsequent step, the quality of management decreases, and the demand for it increase. The crisis of the management process worsens the negative processes in production. The level of surplus product falls, which intensifies the struggle within the ruling elite: “Bolivar cannot carry double”.

This is how the “Joseph catastrophe” occurs: six fat years are replaced by six lean ones. Before the Bronze Age collapse, the fat years lasted more than a century, but now they are a little less. This allows to make a strategic forecast for lean years.

(2) A crisis is preceded by globalisation. And the larger the scale of globalisation, the larger the amount of space available in principle is covered by it, the deeper the crisis will be.

There is a very beautiful trap associated with “luxury”, which people have been falling into for 4,000 years. It is the production of elite goods that provides the highest rate of profit in all epochs. In the context of globalisation, the money received can buy (cheap) anything from food to weapons, slaves, technicians, and hired soldiers. But imagine now that globalisation has suddenly ended. It should be borne in mind that trade, even in the Bronze Age, was based on the circulation of bills of exchange, and the accounting of bills of exchange in the conditions of a permanent war of all against all is impossible.

READ:  WW2 Victory Day to be Decommunized in Ukraine

Consequently, a financial crisis begins. It starts with a break in the trading chains. This immediately puts in a critical position territories that do not have autarky in terms of food, weapons and tools. That is, territories that produce luxury goods, which in the new conditions, firstly, are not needed, and secondly, cannot be paid for.

The financial crisis creates barter, as money disappears from circulation very quickly. They disappear because they start being hidden, stopping normal handling. There is a formation of treasures, money is buried in the ground “for better times”, because, firstly, their price becomes unpredictable, and secondly, their ownership becomes life-threatening. In the context of the destruction of globalisation and the “ascent of relics”, even for a small amount, one can easily be killed – let’s remember Russia in the 1990s.

Once there is no money, the monetary tax system and everything that it provided, including external and internal security, falls – the feedback loop closes, and money is finally withdrawn from circulation.

(3) The third important marker of a crisis is disruption of the food production process. As a rule, this implies a cold snap, although, of course, there are possible options: desertification, salinisation of soils, pandemics of basic crops.

Most often there is still a cold snap. And the difference between a thriving civilisation and a dying one (even locally, for a while) is only 2.5 degrees Celsius. Plus 2.5 degrees — and grapes start to grow in southern Scandinavia. Minus 2.5 degrees, and grapes stop growing in northern Italy [5].

(4) A crisis is usually associated with major epidemics: plague, coronavirus, etc.

Cooling or warming?

So far, all social crises on Earth have consistently correlated with climate pessimisms that reduce food production. There is now a worldwide consensus on “global warming”. It is believed that it will also cause food problems [6].

The results of paleoclimatological studies can be summarised as follows:

(1) There is a long-term trend towards a decrease in the average temperature of the Earth, which, according to paleontologists, is explained by the constant increase in the content of free oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere, which occurred throughout the Phanerozoic. This decrease in temperature is extremely slow (hundreds of millions of years per Kelvin). It is possible that the relatively rapid geological burning of coal and hydrocarbons in the industrial era can weaken this trend.

(2) There are two relatively stable climatic states of the Earth – icehouse and greenhouse. Icehouse is characterised by pronounced latitudinal and seasonal zoning, cover glaciation of the Arctic and Antarctic regions and polar seas, and pronounced dry climate. The level of the oceans is low, and heat transfer is primarily carried out by ocean currents. The latitudinal and seasonal zoning patterns are weakly expressed in greenhouse states, there is no glaciation, the climate is humid, and the ocean level is high. Heat transfer is mainly carried out by air currents (monsoons).

In icehouse states, the poles (at least one) are located on continents, while in greenhouse states, they are located in ice-free oceans. An icehouse state is characterised by powerful warm currents such as the Gulf Stream, which move warm water from the equator to the poles, and equally powerful cold circumpolar currents. In temperate latitudes, the sea temperature exceeds the land temperature, which leads to intense continental anticyclones and prevents the penetration of warm and humid winds into the depths of the continents.

In a greenhouse state, there is a free circulation of water masses along the equator and an equatorial current develops, the transfer of warm water from the equator to the poles does not occur, the temperature of land and water is the same, significant anticyclones do not occur, warm and humid air masses permeate the continents from south to north, establishing an even and mild climate.

(3) All climate changes appear to be periodic in nature.

(4) The current climate can be considered “warm” only within the Pleistocene-Holocene ice age, i.e., on the scale of the last million years of paleontological history.

The Earth is in a cold (glacial) period of its development. This period began about 38 million years ago, entered the phase of its greatest development about three million years ago, and has not yet been completed. Today, 11% of the earth’s surface is occupied by glaciers and another 14% is permafrost. Just 18,000 years ago, the ice cover occupied a significant part of Eurasia and North America, and the ocean level was 80-160 meters lower than today (according to various estimates).

The current state of the climate refers to the cold interglacial periods. So, during the previous warm period, the Polar seas were ice-free, larch grew 300 kilometres north of the current habitat boundary, and polar birch – 450 kilometres.

The observed climate changes are perfectly explained by the climate cycle model. The shortest of these cycles has a duration of about 1200 years. Historically, the “medieval climate optimum” of the 10th–12th centuries, the climate catastrophe of the 14th century and the “little ice age” of the 17th–18th centuries are known. Currently, we are approaching another “climate optimum”, and we can predict that the growth of average temperatures in the northern hemisphere “on average” will continue until the middle of the 22nd century, after which the climate trend will change to the opposite, and a cold snap will begin.

This is, however, an average estimate that does not take into account the possible implementation of “wild cards”, for example, a powerful volcanic eruption, as well as the operation of some purely climatic compensation mechanisms.

As historical experience and analysis of anthropoclimates show, cold snaps can be directly caused by previous warming. For example, the melting of ice caused the creation of glacial lakes (Upper, Baltic, Lake Agassiz). The breakthrough of the icy water of these lakes into the Atlantic Ocean led to a change in the nature of thermohaline circulation and a noticeable cooling.

Currently, there are no such glacial lakes, but there are ice sheets in Greenland, Canada and Antarctica. An increase in temperature causes instability of the ice sheets, which should lead to intensive iceberg formation.

We have to predict that the number of icebergs in the North Atlantic and their size will grow. This process will peak by 2030-2050 and then decline due to the end of the glacial pulsation and the “discharge” of excess ice at a given equilibrium temperature into the ocean.

Iceberg formation is likely to lead to a change in the flow of the Gulf Stream (all the same failure of thermohaline circulation, of course, short-term). As a result, the climate of northern Scandinavia will become cooler and drier.

Europe within the boundaries of the Pyrenees-Alps-Balkans-Vistula should be considered as a large peninsula, the weather on which is determined by air flows over the Atlantic, and they, in turn, are formed by the thermohaline circulation of the world ocean (in this case, the distribution of currents in the North Atlantic).

If the failure of the thermohaline mechanism is comparable to previous climate events, we should be prepared for an unexpected cooling of 2-2.5 degrees of the average annual temperature and the resulting famine.

We emphasise once again that this is a relatively short-term forecast: this cooling occurs against the background of cyclical warming, is initiated by this warming, and is local in nature. Nevertheless, it can last for several decades and cause very serious social consequences – including mass starvation in third world countries.

Food, war and logistics

So, we have good reasons to expect serious problems on the global food market in the next two to five years. These problems are most likely to be caused by an unexpected and dramatic change in the nature of atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic. This mechanism is of a “general crisis nature”, it worked during all previous phase catastrophes. The same can be said about the crisis of the “sustainable development elite”, which has previously demonstrated and will now demonstrate its inability to manage in the face of rapidly increasing turbulence, military threats and the threat of starvation.

However, the global food crisis expected in 2024-2027 will also have its own unique manifestations.

For each phase of development, the full technological package “Foodstuffs” is mandatory. For the archaic phase (hunting and gathering) – this is the preparation and storage of food. For traditional (agriculture) — farming and animal husbandry. Moreover, the package is “matryoshka” in nature: the previous key technologies are preserved, though not as leading ones, but as dependent ones.

The industrial phase is characterised by an increasingly deep division of labour, including regional division. This means that there are traditional agricultural territories where commercial animal husbandry and commercial crop production are still key in food production. And there are industrial countries that buy a significant part of their food. This means that transport and logistics are key food technologies in these countries [7].

Taking into account the physical volume of transactions, this means that the global food market depends on the state of transport infrastructures and logistics hubs. However, the era of globalisation ended in 2020, and starting in the spring of 2022, there is a clear trend towards the transition to a macro-regional structure. Since none of the projected macro-regions is closed, this implies the development of a number of political and military conflicts in Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is also necessary to keep in mind the high risks of internal conflict in the United States, where tensions are growing between global Democrats and nationalist Republicans, while the United States remains the largest grain exporter.

Military and political conflicts affect infrastructure in three ways. First of all, these are the sanctions policy, trade restrictions, and transportation bans. Then there is the direct destruction of infrastructure in the course of military operations or the military blockade of ports and logistics centers, an increase in the cost of freight and insurance. Finally, there is a general increase in risks and instabilities, a reduction, if not in the volume of agricultural production, then in its share going to the foreign market, up to the ban on exports.

The civil war that continues on the territory of Ukraine is the first of these conflicts and by no means the most serious. But even that was enough to create noticeable negative expectations on the global food market.

The logistical mechanism of the phase food crisis is typical only for the industrial phase of development. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it does not require a mandatory preliminary cooling.

For the sake of completeness, we will mention some more features of the industrial phase. They can’t cause a crisis by themselves, but they can make it worse. This is, firstly, the over-centralisation of the world seed fund, secondly, the high regulation of the agricultural market, primarily regulatory and tax, and thirdly, the lumpenisation of agricultural workers, their loss of qualifications.

Green agenda, inclusive capitalism and future hunger

As part of the fight against “global warming”, governments and parliaments of European countries have adopted a number of measures aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions. We are talking about limiting the use of hydrocarbon fuels (oil, gas) [8] and the transition to “green energy”, that is, first of all, to the use of wind and solar energy. In essence, this means a return to the energy of the first technological wave of 1760-1830. The problem is that at that time the world’s population was only about 1 billion people. In general, there is a fairly clear linear relationship between the population of the planet and the energy potential of civilisation (figure 1). This is due to all the same primary needs: heat, light, food.

Figure 1 – correlation between the population of Earth and energy production

Not everyone understands that in the industrial phase of development, food is a converted (or, if you prefer, stored) form of energy. Energy carriers (fuel oil, gasoline) are necessary for the operation of agricultural machinery, which cannot be dispensed with in modern agriculture. Fuel is needed to heat greenhouses. For the operation of transport. And, most importantly, for the production of mineral fertilisers.

READ:  Why Were We Left With No Choice

So it’s necessary to be clear: a reduction in the energy potential [9] means a proportional reduction in the world’s population. Moreover, this reduction will be catastrophic. People will starve to death. And it’s possible to count exactly how many of them will die. If the energy potential returns to the sun and wind, that is, to the first technological wave, the bottom estimate gives one billion people. In fact, the efficiency of modern solar and wind power sources, hydroelectric power plants, and tidal power plants is higher than that of the first wave water wheel, so the result will be slightly better — 2-2. 5 billion people. As we have already said, the phase crisis reduces the population by half or three times.

Of course, the transition to “green energy” in the form in which it is depicted in the governing documents of the European Union will not happen. A social catastrophe with the destruction of the structures of the EU and the entire industrial world will happen sooner. Perhaps this is the catastrophe that the theorists of inclusive capitalism are planning [10].

It should be taken into account that the fight against global warming (the so-called “climate agenda”) involves not only the transition to “green energy” and a sharp reduction in electricity and heat production, limiting air travel, limiting the use of motor vehicles, but also reformatting agriculture. Theorists of inclusive capitalism argue that methane production by cattle is an important contributor to global warming, and that cattle should be destroyed.

This, of course, means replacing meat in people’s diets with soy protein and artificial protein, and increasing food prices from two to four fold by 2040. There will be a transition to a two-class society in which the elite will be singled out not only for the right to use air transport and cars, but also for the right to eat natural proteins and food not from a bioreactor.

The main problem, however, is not in this. In modern agriculture, crop production and animal husbandry are very closely linked. A significant part of fertilisers are organic and are produced by livestock, and above all – by cattle. Therefore, a sharp reduction in the number of livestock will lead to a drop in grain yields. In other words, not only animal proteins will be deficient, but also plant proteins.

Some very rough idea of what this might look like is provided by the famine in Kazakhstan in 1931-1933 caused by collectivisation. In the conditions of nomadic animal husbandry, collectivisation led to the slaughter of 4.5 million heads of livestock. Over the next two years, more than a million people died of starvation. Northern Kazakhstan lost 74.5% of the population, the least affected Central Kazakhstan – 15.6%, on average, the country’s losses amounted to more than 30% of the population.

Thus, not only will a very narrow layer of the world’s elite (less than a million) be singled out from the “inclusive cattle”, deprived of all rights, jobs and natural food, but also about a third of this “cattle” will be destroyed in one or two years, that is, about 2.5 billion people. Further famine will subside, but given the lack of energy, the collapse of transport and the ongoing military operations, the demographic decline will worsen, although not in such a catastrophic way. Once again, we come to the conclusion that the balance will be established with the World’s population of 2-2.5 billion people. This stabilisation will occur by the end of the 21st century.

Anthropo-currents and phase catastrophe

The Plague is already over, though it may return. War, Starvation, and Death loom over the world, especially at the throats of Africa and Southeast Asia. In these large and populated regions there are no thrifty Josephs, advisers to large and small pharaohs. Why not? Apparently, Jewish prudence is not in honour, Aristotle’s logic has not been studied, species common sense, differently – reason, has been lost. And neither hands, nor feet, nor heads, nor hearts have reached Christianity. How can one become an evangelist here, when Europe – the eternal dream of an African – has abandoned faith. And the mercy of Christ is not called there other than “dark beliefs”. And globalisation, meanwhile, has destroyed everything local economic and cultural, turning the territory into raw material appendages, and young people into aggressive dreamers of a European or American way of life. These boys and girls will not remember the former formats of survival that the culture of the family teaches them, they will take away food, fight with their neighbours and rush to the feeder across the Mediterranean.

This is the main manifestation of world hunger in the early stages of catastrophe, when it will not yet become universal and serious tension will arise between relatively well-fed and completely hungry territories and ethnic groups. And the anthropo-current – the global human current – is along the line of this tension. The human flow will be the reason for the transition from the early stage of a food catastrophe, when the number of deaths from hunger will be relatively small – millions, tens of millions, to our statistics, when only billions are counted.

Starvation and war of all against all for rations. Even now, humanitarian aid is far from reaching the addressee, and money is deposited at the borders and resale markets. But in the next period of development of the world, no one will provide any help, just survive yourselves! But there will be wars for the food resource: both local and global.

With further phase decline, we gain the full power of those responsible for the distribution of food and heat. When a certain resource is scarce, it always accumulates in units and is not spent democratically at all.

Russia as the New Byzantium

It is impossible to help those who are ready to destroy their agriculture and industry in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But it is possible, using its “outcast” position, to create a relatively closed macro-region that can provide for itself, if not with everything necessary for survival and subsequent development, then at least with energy and food

The country has more than enough arable land and water.

There is an excess of energy, so it’s possible to build greenhouses, including innovative ones – with monochrome light, with terahertz growth stimulators, etc.

Inertially developing agricultural institutions of the Russian Federation have retained their seed stock. It is, of course, inferior in all respects to modern varieties, but at least it exists.

Since there is a war on the wreckage of the global world, and we have a military power, then the conditional “raising of virgin land” will take place according to the laws of military production: the first year – nothing happens, the second year – crumbs for the front, the third year – as much as necessary, and the fourth – we lament, but we feed the whole of Europe. The latter, of course, will be displeased, but hunger is not an aunt, but the chief of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Notes:

1 ‑ In the 1990s, the median salary in Russia was $12-15, with a living wage of $50. In 1992, meat consumption fell by 80%, milk – by 56%, vegetables – by 84%, fish – by 56% from the level of the already meagre 1991. The number of premature deaths is estimated at a minimum of one million, while the maximum is over 10 million, the average life expectancy fell from 70.1 to 63.9, and the birth rate (the number of children per woman of childbearing age) fell from 1.89 in 1990 to 1.37 in 1993.

2 – For example, for St. Petersburg: in 1991, the population was 5.007 million people, in 2001 – 4.714 million people. New population growth began only in 2004, and the level of 1991 was exceeded in 2013. Taking into account the fact that St. Petersburg is a centre of population accretion (that is, quite a lot of people came to it from other Russian cities, from former Soviet republics), the real number of residents who left the city was at least twice as large, that is, about 0.5 million people.

3 – The catastrophe began with the flooding of Europe: the summer of 1315 was characterised by an abnormally high level of precipitation. Currently, the famine of the beginning of the 14th century is associated with another failure of thermohaline circulation (slowing of the Gulf Stream) and the beginning of the Little Ice Age.

4 – Especially if this mechanism was launched earlier. For example, by transferring the right to define an anti-epidemic policy to regions. At the same time, responsibility is removed from the central government, and heads of regions have to take unpopular measures, which from the point of view of
from the centre’s point of view is very good. But there is also a downside: regions and their leaders get used to surviving on their own, without the help of the centre.

5 – A steady temperature change of one degree causes the polar boundary of forests in the Northern Hemisphere to shift by 80 km.

6 – Note here that the increase in average temperatures in the 20th century led to an increase in the productivity of the photosynthetic process and, consequently, to an increase in agricultural production by about 40%. That is, if the climate on Earth suddenly returns to the state of the early 1900s, agricultural production would almost halve, leading to an unbalanced food market and famine. So far, warming is the only barrier to global hunger.

7 – The United States remains the world’s key grain-producing country. In 2016, US production increased to 558 million tons, accounting for 35% of global output. Other major producers were China (23%), Brazil (16%), India (8%) and Argentina (6%). In physical terms, the largest volume of shipments is accounted for by exporters from the United States (134 million tons, or 28% of total exports in 2016). The United States was followed by suppliers from Brazil (15%), Argentina (8%), Canada (8%), Russia (7%), France (6%) and Australia (5%). Most meat is produced in the countries of Asia and North America, together they account for almost half of the total global product volume. The largest producer of fruit is China, which has 20% of the world’s total production.

8 – Coal and nuclear power are also restricted (although the latter is in no way related to greenhouse gases).

9 – By energy potential, we mean electricity generation, heat generation, and the production of internal combustion engines.

10 – See “Inclusive fascism through the eyes of a prognosticator“.


Sergey Pereslegin

Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Tags: