Sri Lanka, a small island nation in South East Asia, is on the verge of total political and economic collapse after its president’s “green” policies have brought famine to the island’s 21 million people.
From the 1970s to 2020, with the help of synthetic fertilizers, Sri Lanka had become self-sufficient in rice production. However, Sri Lanka’s government fell under the spell of the “green” revolution promoted by Western liberal elites. In a now-deleted article published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe vowed to make his country “rich by 2025,” partially by adopting WEF-sponsored “climate change” initiatives.
Advised by the Rockefeller Foundation, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised to transition the nation’s agriculture industry to organic farming within ten years. In April 2021, he banned “the importation and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and order[ed] the country’s 2 million farmers to go organic,” according to Foreign Policy magazine. The Western green revolutionists were so pleased that they bestowed Sri Lanka with a near-perfect Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score of 98, much higher than the United States’ score of 51.
But Sri Lanka’s adoption of green policies brought nothing but disasters. Its rice production has dropped more than 50 percent, while domestic rice prices have increased more than 80 percent. Once sufficient in rice production, the nation has been “forced to import $450 million worth of rice.” In the words of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Sri Lanka is experiencing “a government-created famine reminiscent of Mao.”
In addition, the ban on synthetic fertilizer and pesticides also affected the nation’s tea production, a primary export. Compounded by the effect of falling tourism after Covid-19 lockdowns, the nation’s foreign reserves shrunk. Sri Lanka’s government eventually was forced to lift its ban on fertilizer and pesticides when prices of both had reached historical highs.
With its foreign reserves dwindling close to zero, Sri Lanka’s government struggled to import necessities, such as food, fertilizers, and fuels. It also has had difficulty paying back its foreign loans to finance the nation’s infrastructure. Its currency value dropped, and the country defaulted on its debt obligations.
The Sri Lankan people, angry and hungry, staged protests and stormed both the president’s residence and prime minister’s office. President Rajapaksa resigned and fled the country this week.
Sri Lanka is the tip of the iceberg of how “green” policies promoted by Western liberal elites have brought miseries and instability worldwide.
Food Security Depends on Energy
Liberal politicians and climate activists in the West have failed to appreciate how much food security depends on oil and gas. For example, about 80 percent of synthetic fertilizers are made out of natural gas. The wide adoption of synthetic fertilizers was the main reason farmers could feed a global population of 7.9 billion while available farmlands were shrinking. Farmers also need pesticides sourced from petroleum to protect crops and control weeds, insects, and diseases.
Despite the vital role energy plays in food security, many European countries have closed down coal plants and nuclear power generators, cut natural gas production, and banned fracking, aiming to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. According to the Wall Street Journal, “mere 15 years ago, countries in the European Union produced more gas than Russia exported.” But Europe’s “green” revolution has made it vulnerable to Russia’s energy and Putin’s aggression. In the U.S., the Biden administration has waged a similar war on fossil fuels, including canceling the Keystone Pipeline project.
Ukraine Crisis Worsened Existing Problems
These wrong-headed policies had driven up the prices of all energy resources that modern farming depends on, from diesel to natural gas and petroleum, long before Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased energy prices and further exasperated the global food security problem.
Russia and Ukraine provide about a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports. In addition, Ukraine is responsible for 14 percent of corn exports and about half the world’s sunflower oil. Russia’s invasion has disrupted Ukraine’s agricultural production and halted exports as Ukrainian ports are under the Russian military’s blockade. Since Russia is also one of the largest fertilizer suppliers in the world, Putin “temporarily” suspended fertilizer exports as a retaliation to the West-led economic sanctions.
Farmers worldwide responded to rising operating costs, from energy to fertilizer, by cutting back production and using fewer fertilizers and pesticides. The downstream effects include lower crop yield, reduced food supply, and higher prices for all food, including corn, which is also essential feed for live stock. Higher prices of corn will translate to higher prices of meat, milk, and other food products. Rising operating costs may also drive some farmers out of business. Doomberg, a financial research site with extensive reporting on the relationship between energy policies and farming, warns that farmers “are on the brink” and “we are at the onset of a global famine of historic proportions.”
Warnings of Food Shortages
The chief economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Maximo Torero, tweeted, “Global wheat and barley prices went up 31% over the past year. In Feb, food prices were at a record high due to high demand, transportation costs & port disruptions. Volatile natural gas prices sent fertilizer prices soaring. All could lead millions more to face severe hunger.” Similarly, Bloomberg analyst Alexis Maxwell called food shortages the next “slow-moving disaster” that would hit the world. Even President Joe Biden warned Americans to prepare for food shortages and higher prices.
Another sign that a worldwide food shortage is approaching is China’s hoarding food. According to Bloomberg, China will “hold 69% of the world’s corn reserves, 60% of its rice and 51% of its wheat” by mid-2022.
Doubling Down on Green Revolution
Yet, despite the looming food shortages, liberal politicians and climate activists in the West have chosen to double down on their green revolution. At its recent summit, NATO integrated climate change into its statement of purpose and committed to reducing its military’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Rather than developing fossil fuels at home, European nations are preparing to ration energy. Germany is sticking to its plan to shut down three remaining nuclear power plants while considering bringing back wood burning this winter. The same European countries refusing to fund oil and gas development in Africa are rushing to buy natural gas from the continent. Their hypocrisy has left millions of impoverished Africans without access to natural gas and relying on “black-market kerosene and diesel to light wood stoves and power electricity generators.”
The Biden administration continues its war on fossil fuels by canceling oil and gas lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, essentially “removing millions of acres from possible drilling as U.S. gas prices reach record highs,” the AP reported. This week, President Biden travels to Saudi Arabia to beg the Gulf State to produce more oil. At home, his administration is incentivizing farmers to produce more soybeans to make biodiesel, even though soybeans are an important food source for human and animal feed and there are cooking oil shortages and food shortages around the world.
The researchers at Doomberg asked, “In the face of a global energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, food shortages, and rampant inflation, does it make sense to be redirecting so many acres of valuable cropland to make renewable diesel, a fuel we can easily and directly drill for domestically?”
From ancient Rome to today’s Sri Lanka, history has taught us that revolutions erupted and regimes fell when people were hungry. The looming worldwide food crisis may not hit the U.S. as severely as other parts of the world, but we are not exempt from empty shelves and food shortages if the Biden administration’s green revolution continues.