|Reservoir, What Reservoir?|
So, you see, you've got this conjunction of forces. There are more of us by the day, about 220,000 every 24-hours and that's a net increase. And then our ever larger population is also movin' on up. We're making progress on reducing poverty and those mega-populated, emerging economies are spawning their own middle, or consumer classes that want pretty much everything that you or I take for granted - nice houses, cars, holidays abroad, consumer goods of every description and better food. There's the first part of your problem - demand. It's way up.
The second part of your problem is supply. Unlike demand, supply may be heading in the other direction. You see, we've changed the climate. We've changed the channel. We're into a new climate now and when it comes to meeting our growing demand, it's less than ideal. Climate change is making wet regions wetter and dry regions dryer. In the case of dry regions that often means drought.
Unfortunately these warm, dry regions have also been where we get a lot of what we eat. Think of California, North America's supplier of fruits, nuts and, of course, wine. The Golden State is still getting plenty of sunshine but precious little rainfall and farmers are struggling with drought. Even orchards are being lost.
Now word is out that the world's main olive producer, Spain, is also in the throes of terrible drought. Spain produces half the world's olives and most of our olive oil. Expect to pay more soon for olive oil. European prices have already jumped 30% this year. Unfortunately this is a problem we're going to be facing ever more in years to come.
Here's the thing. We can grow olives elsewhere in our warming world. The problem is it takes nearly 35-years from planting until an olive grove comes into production. So there's bound to be a period of disruption and, while that lasts, expect to pay for it at the check out.
And, by the way, look for domestic food prices to nudge higher this year. China is in the midst of its worst drought in 63-years in its northern agricultural belt. The crop shortfall could send China to the world markets, driving up prices for wheat and other grains.
Don't fret, we still have enough wealth disparity that we can continue to buy our way out of these shortages, for now. People at the bottom end of the wealth scale, let's just call them the poor, don't have as many options. They do without or find substitutes like dirt and grass.