This last few years have seen the spooling up of serious changes in the War on Global Warming (trademarked!!!). For my own part, I switched my house to being powered entirely by windmills in New Zealand, and I've managed to switch a few other bits and pieces over.
More worrying for me however, is the recent huge advances in the technology, economics, and political willpower to get biofuels of various types off the ground.
This year we hit a key, albeit symbolic, milestone that will have far-reaching effects far beyond the current "climate crisis".
Because this year, the United States corn ethanol industry has grown enough to soak up the extra capacity of US corn producers. From this year on, the pricing of one of the world's more significant food price indexes will be directly linked to the price of oil. The cost of fuel is now directly linked to the price of energy.
Now, it's been partly linked for a long time, because it takes lots of energy to process the corn, package it, and get it to the point of sale. But until now, there's been at least SOME notional separation between the two. Extra corn (and other farm products) went to feed lots to make meat, which is also food.
But things are different now.
FROM NOW ON WE COMPETE WITH ROBOTS FOR FOOD
Now, the ACTUAL amount of food cost changes right now is minor, something in the order of 10% or less change in the prices. The price fluctuations from the effects of the weather on crops is more significant. There's also not a universal food -> fuel link yet. But it's the link itself that is the main point here.
But all across science and industry, people are looking for more ways to divert more human food into robot food, and to do it more efficiently.
And since humanity currently consumes more resources than is produced by the entire earth in a year, there is essentially unlimited demand for human to robot fuel conversion, as oil production gradually tapers off. There's always been some secondary uses for food products of various sorts, but now we see a literally unquenchable market. Humanity will always be hungry for more energy, all the way out until we wrap a dyson sphere around the sun.
The most worrying problem is that we are only just getting biofuels off the ground. From here on in, every time the efficiency of biofuel processes go up by 10% so does the profitable of feeding robots instead of humans. And so food prices will rise again.
Sometimes this will take a while. I would bet that feed lot operators in the US are hurting at the moment, as the cost of one of their primary inputs goes up a lot, they'll hold out for a while until the market forces them to push up prices.
It will be a long slow process of course, large scale change always is.
But I hereby declare the competition officially underway.