Things can get worse

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Written by Lester Brown

Just when is seemed that things could not get much worse, the United States, the world's breadbasket, is planning to double the share of its grain harvest going to fuel ethanol--from 16% of the 2006 crop to 30% of the 2008 crop.  With this enormous growth in the U.S. capacity to convert grain into fuel, the world price of grain is moving up toward its oil-equivalent value.  This ill-conceived U.S. effort to reduce its oil insecurity has helped drive world grain prides to all-time highs, creating unpredendented world food insecurity.  Under this stress, still more states may fail.

    State failure can come quickly--and often unexpectedly.  In looking back at earlier civilizations, it was often a single environmental trend that led to their demise.  But countries today are facing several simultaneously, some of which reinforce each other.  The earlier civilizations such as the Sumerians and Mayans were often local, rising and falling in isolation from the rest of the world.  In contrast, we will either mobilize together to save our global civilization, or we will all be potential victims of its disintegration. 

Lester Brtown, Plan B 3.0, Mobilization to Save Civilization, p.20.

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