Oil: For your Car, or your Belly?

The New York Times has an excellent article by Kieth Bradsher examining the growing problem of an increased demand for oil around the world. What makes this issue significant is that the oil being demanded is not the type we are used to thinking about - it's not the oil for our cars and industry - it's the oils we use to cook. The article mentions, although only in passing, food riots that have occurred in a number of countries in recent months, and talks of the desperation that is beginning to surface around the globe.
So what is the problem?
Not surprisingly, it's fairly complex, but can be distilled down to a few basic issues. The demand for vegetable oils is facing an unprecedented spike. As industry is increasingly turning to palm, soybean, and other oils as a fossil-fuel replacement, supply has not been able to keep up with what is now needed. This has resulted in increased prices, and even shortages, of cooking oils, and as is the case in most other cases, the poor and "developing" are feeling the brunt of these changes. Other forces playing into the equation are a growing middle class around the world - not to mention a growing global population - increased demand for biofuels, changing climate resulting in the loss of arable land, and a growing demand for such oils in developed parts of the world looking for healthier oils for their diets. And sadly, there is no immediate answer to the problem of an increasing demand for a dwindling supply of the world's other oil...
Read the article here.
Check out an audio slide show here.
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