The sixth element

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more apocalyptic, the food crisis looks like it’s getting a helping hand from another horseman: pestilence.

There are five main reasons that food prices are rising: increased meat consumption, climate-related bad harvests, biofuels , the price of oil, and speculation.

Those factors may soon be joined by a sixth – disease-related food shortages. In particular, a reader sends news of a variety of stem rust, for which no control exists, that is starting to hit in the Asian grainbasket of Punjab.

Times like this that it’s hard to keep the balance between a pessimism of the intellect and an optimism of the will. The former seems far more reasonable…