May 7, 2013

My Mother's Day Wish

Actually, I've got everything I need - and more.

Let's put that way up front. I am, on the whole, pretty pampered - and very happy with what I have. So if the gift-giving portion of Mother's Day were to pass by our house, I would be completely content. If I could still wish for anything, it would not be a thing.

But if pressed, I can name a few items I'm short of, such as patience (I can be very short of that). Or courage: To face difficult things, like the way my dad and his contemporaries are aging; how fast my children are growing up; the kind of world that awaits them. Oh, and a leash for my brain: I keep misplacing it. If you have a surfeit of any of these, I would appreciate receiving some of it. It doesn't have to be for Mother's Day: any time will do.

Hm. I could always wish for World Peace.

Calligraphy by Ibrahim Abu Touq

My one practical request is one that will benefit the grocery budgets of moms everywhere, including mine: Please, please let us all reduce our energy use. We could do that by flying less, driving less, eating less meat, buying less stuff, heating or cooling our homes less - you know the drill.

Here is why: the more demand for energy goes up, the more its price goes up. The graph below shows (in green) the price of oil in the last ten years. It goes up and down. The blue line is the price of food. It goes up and down - together with the price of oil.

This is because agriculture needs oil to power its tractors, water pumps, harvesters and other machines. Oil is the raw material from which synthetic fertilisers are made. And oil enables the transport of the food to our tables.

Blue Line: Food Price Index (set =100 in 2005); from Index Mundi;
Green Line: Spot Price of West Texas Intermediate ($ per barrel) from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Over the past decade, the price of food has just about doubled. Unless your take-home pay has also doubled, you're spending a larger portion of your income on food now than you did ten years ago. Extremely high food prices are a disaster for those families who are living on the edge to begin with: in the direst cases they lead to food riots, as indeed happened in 2007-2008, and again in 2010-2011, both periods of peak food prices.

Easing up on energy use would keep the price of energy down, and thus the price of food. Moms everywhere would benefit: to some moms it would mean merely a reduced strain on their household budgets, but to others it would mean retaining the very ability to feed their families.

That would be a step toward world peace.



You may also like:
1. Freeing our food from fossil fuels
2. Strategies for increased fuel efficiency
3. The Climate IS the Economy, Stupid


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