Forget Baconpocalypse -- Fishageddon Will Be Worse
Source: Tom Philpott, Mother Jones
If cats have any rival as objects of internet fixation, it may be bacon. Over the years, the salty, fatty, sweet, crispy stuff has gained iconic status among hardcore foodies and fast food fans alike. Thus we get sites like Bacon Today, which delivers "Daily News on the World of Sweet, Sweet Bacon." Or as a July Wired headline summed up the internet's cured-pork fetish: "Zombies and Bacon: Manufacturing Memes."
And so, when a British pork industry trade group issued a press release last week titled "Europe's pork and bacon supply is contracting fast," bloggers sniffed an easy post in a "bacon shortage" meme. And so the "baconpocalypse" was born, complete with cutesy blog posts about how we'll have to cut back on bacon donuts and candy bars. Or as one business site insisted, "Forget adding on bacon to your cheeseburgers or the 'B' in that BLT."
Of course, all of this is click-groping internet piffle, as Slate's Matt Yglesias showed. The UK pork industry's press release wasn't really about bacon specifically, but rather about pork in general. And while it's true that a catastrophic drought in US corn and soy country means higher hog-feed prices and thus higher pork prices next year, the effect on American consumers will be minimal. Mother Jones' own Asawin Suebsaeng showed that the alleged great bacon shortage will shave just a pound per capita off of US bacon production in 2013leaving us with an ample 45 pounds of bacon per person to make do with over the year. Overall, US pork prices will rise just 2.5 to 3 percent next year, the USDA projects. Wendy's will likely continue peddling its "Baconator" burger unimpeded.
While editors and bloggers gorged on a trumped-up baconpocalypse, they largely ignored a story with real implications for global food security: a new report on how how climate change will sharply reduce the productivity of the oceans, particularly in the global south, where hundreds of millions of people rely on the sea as a primary source of protein. The report, by American NGO Oceana, ranks the nations that are most vulnerable to a reduction in available fish brought on by climate changethat is, nations that will struggle to replace dwindling fish stocks with other foods. To create its rankings, Oceana looked for countries with low per capita incomes, high population growth rates, and high rates of malnutrition, and then looked at how climate change would effect their access to wild-caught fish.
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