In light of recent food price spikes ”“ some of which exceed the peaks reached during the now notorious food crisis of 2008 ”“ and the continuing political instability in the Middle East, Dr. [Jeffrey] Sachs’s outlook was markedly darker than usual during a video talk he delivered Friday to a gathering on food scarcity and global security held at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Despite his trademark frankness in articulating global challenges, Dr. Sachs has traditionally been an optimist.
“Something very dramatic is happening,” he warned a rapt audience. “We’ve entered a new global scenario with respect to food, hunger and conflict ”¦ an era where things are likely to get tougher, not easier, in terms of production,” he said. “We’re hitting boundaries that are very important to understand and very important to counteract.”
Chief among those is the fact that global demand for food ”“ and the agricultural commodities used to produce it ”“ is outpacing the growth of supplies. The onset of climate change, which affects everything from the water supply to crop yields, is a ballooning wedge that will continue to force those trend lines in opposite directions, Dr. Sachs said.