by Robin Burk
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that a shortage of fertilizer is causing farms in the developing world to fail, threatening food shortages and hunger. Ironically, the lead photo is of mounds of phosphate fertilizer in a Russian warehouse.
Modern synthetic fertilizers are typically made using natural gas or from phosphorous-bearing ores. The former provides the nitrogen that is critical to re-use of fields in commercial agriculture. They constitute more than half of all synthetic fertilizer production.
So what happens when oil and natural gas extraction are crippled in industrialized nations? One likely outcome is that the fertilizer manufacturing industry is also crippled, leaving both large commercial growers and smaller farms around the world starved of a key substance they need to grow food for hungry populations.
According to Wikipedia (yes, I know), that’s to be welcomed. After all,
[S]tarting in the 19th century, after innovations in plant nutrition, an agricultural industry developed around synthetically created fertilizers. This transition was important in transforming the global food system, allowing for larger-scale industrial agriculture with large crop yields. In particular nitrogen-fixing chemical processes . . . led to a boom in using nitrogen fertilizers. In the latter half of the 20th century, increased use of nitrogen fertilizers (800% increase between 1961 and 2019) has been a crucial component of the increased productivity of conventional food systems (more than 30% per capita) as part of the so-called ‘Green Revolution’.
Synthetic fertilizer used in agriculture has wide-reaching environmental consequences. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land, production of these fertilizers and associated land use practices are key drivers of global warming. The use of fertilizer has also led to a number of direct environmental consequences: agricultural runoff which leads to downstream effects like ocean dead zones and waterway contamination, soil microbiome degradation, and accumulation of toxins in ecosystems. Indirect environmental impacts include: the environmental impacts of fracking for natural gas used in the Haber process, the agricultural boom is partially responsible for the rapid growth in human population . . .
So the IPCC says artificial fertilizer is a bad thing—and if you can’t trust the IPCC, who can you trust?
The real message is: “Pity about those people who’ll go hungry but there are just too many people living too well. They need our enlightened control as we ‘reset’ the world to make it a better place.”
But actions have consequences, and those wishing for their “enlightened control” don’t get to pick which ones occur. The massive push for a global Great Reset of economies, society, farming, and a good deal more is at the precipice of some major and irreversible consequences the elites won’t like.
Our tech-driven economies, societies, supply chains, and much more have become what are technically referred to as interdependent “complex adaptive networks.” “Complex” means that they sometimes have counterintuitive system-level behaviors that cannot (truly cannot) be predicted as a result of knowing the behaviors of their elements, unlike the way we can predict the rise in pressure that results from heating a sealed container’s millions of water molecules.
Those elements are “adaptive”—they can choose among many different responses to conditions around them. And these systems aren’t limited to local proximity—people and other elements interact at a distance, often through second or third intermediaries. In other words, they are networked.
When such networks depend on one another, there are more counterintuitive results. A seemingly small disruption can sometimes trigger a growing unraveling of the network—and of other networks as well—especially if that disruption occurs at a place where the networks interact without any redundancy.
Say what? OK, that’s opaque technical language. Let’s get specific.
Think about a company that produces many electronic products using many inputs from various suppliers around the world. Suppose a small amount of a rare mineral—lithium, for example—is needed for a component—say, a battery—that’s just one part of many used in many of the successful products the company sells. This is a sophisticated multinational company, so its supply chains are optimized—they don’t carry more raw materials than they need to keep the manufacturing lines operating at cost efficiency.
Interrupt the supply of lithium from the company’s main supplier and what happens?
At first, the company might issue a purchase order for some lithium at a higher price from a backup supplier. But what if, say, the Chinese-controlled lithium extraction using child labor in Africa isn’t just briefly impacted by bad weather or transportation congestion but instead gets broadly disrupted by famine and rising instability in the region? Now the company faces a much more difficult challenge. Its workers, other suppliers, retailers, and others will be hurt financially. Shareholders might see their retirement funds shrink as the stock value drops. The company might default on loans, impacting investors, banks, and ultimately central banking agencies. Central banks might raise interest rates to compensate for losses and higher risk.
That would impact food processors even more as the cost of financing their production rises. Families now would be hit with rising food costs and higher interest on credit cards and mortgages. Healthcare providers would face rising costs as well, and would pass those along to consumers and taxpayers, directly or through insurers.
Meanwhile, those developing countries whose farms are unable to function are facing growing hunger and a lack of export goods with which to provide basic services like healthcare to their own people.
Supply chain disruptions at the transportation and logistics level can have serious economic impacts over time, as we’ve seen over the last two years. Disrupt the core sourcing of the goods and materials at their origin, and the disruption becomes a lot harder to mitigate because there are far more interdependencies at work.
Now go read the Wikipedia quote from the IPCC again. The transnational globalists want to shut down petrochemical extraction because of alleged climate impacts. Doing so has already caused fertilizer shortages, but the globalists are fine with that because they want to significantly restrict and change industrialized agriculture as well.
They aren’t very good at counting the costs, however. Total global public debt alone is currently nearly $58 trillion and rising. Add in major inflation plus ongoing food production failures and we will start to see serious defaults on that debt.
Those defaults in turn will impact the ability of countries to contain pandemic disease and to employ citizens to create new economic value that, in turn, can repay otherwise better-rated public debt.
In the most directly impacted countries, civil disorder is very likely to spread. Expect ports to be affected, throttling more of the global supply chains. Expect more goods to flow to the underground “black” economy, fueling gang activity. That means governments like Mexico’s, already teetering on the brink, may well fall to chaos and national disintegration.
In the short run, the transnational globalists will attempt to use such events to assert increasingly totalitarian control of people, movement, goods, and more. It won’t take long for those attempts to exacerbate the chaos, the shortages, the conflict, and the disease. The tighter their attempted control, the greater and deeper the damage they will cause.
There is one ray of light in all this, though, if we act quickly and with resolution.
When interdependent complex adaptive systems like our tech-driven finance networks, food supplies, public health and medical care, power and water infrastructure and more begin to unravel, some parts of those global networks might detach as smaller but connected networks without unraveling further.
That can happen when there is local redundancy. When a country or region has a core manufacturing capability, when people have access to locally grown or stored food, have some household emergency ability to withstand a few weeks without municipal utilities, when they have community relationships, they become more resilient to the initial impacts of unraveling. That provides time to repair damage locally where possible, interrupting the cascade of accelerating destruction.
The greater the redundancy at the local and regional level, the more likely it is that a smaller area of the interconnected networks can decouple from the wider, unraveling global system and continue to function.
After the fall of imperial Rome, small, self-contained Christian monasteries in Europe preserved literacy. They initiated local agriculture on a communal scale. They maintained networks of correspondence and, over time, of physical travel and interaction. Slowly medieval towns and cities arose, built or rebuilt on a devastated landscape. Trade and industries revived, and an urban middle class began to emerge.
Today our populations are much larger, and so are the surveillance and other powers of a tech-enabled would-be tyrannical elite. But we too have tech and other tools we can use to build resilience in our communities, regions, and more.
It starts by resisting the erosion of our social, economic, and political ties with one another. It is strengthened by deliberately building bonds at a distance among the like-minded and locally among neighbors.
It’s grounded in household and local resilience. Small garden plots are a lot more than a means to grow some organic veggies or keep the kids busy. Their presence, and people having some basic skills to maintain them, are a modest but important redundancy to a food supply chain that is under intentional and, in some cases, stupidly ignorant attack.
Besides, supermarket chains can’t source really ripe tomatoes anyway, so dig in the dirt or add a growing box by your window. At the very least you’ll have better sandwiches or gazpacho to enjoy. And if worst comes to worst, they’ll provide some needed nutrition.
Learn some first aid skills and keep some first aid supplies. If nothing else, you might make new friends in the class, or have a book on hand to consult in emergencies.
People who know they have recourse to some additional sources for necessities, however modest, are less likely to be successively panicked and manipulated by the globalist wannabe world engineers in the coming chaotic time when their efforts succeed in unraveling without actually bringing about their soi disant utopian goals.
Be well, good people. Network up and be prepared.
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Robin Burk started her career wearing bell bottom jeans in the basement of the Pentagon, where she had the challenging privilege of interacting with computing legend Grace Hopper, and in Silicon Valley, where she wrote one of the first commercially deployed Internet protocol software stacks. The remainder of her first career half was spent in roles through senior executive in small and mid-sized tech companies serving defense and national security customers in the US and abroad. After the attacks of 9/11 Robin taught in two departments at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point). Returning to the Beltway area, she grew a fledgling research grant program in the new discipline of complex network systems at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, center of U.S. counterWMD expertise, then led a team that addressed national security and commercial applications at a major R&D organization. Today her passion is helping organizations and individuals make the best responses to disruptive tech-driven change. Along the way she picked up a PhD in artificial intelligence and some DOD civilian medals. She is currently being trained by a young English Cocker Spaniel whose canine appreciation for social compacts rivals that of Confucius and his followers.