Our Fragile Supply Lines

Citizens, you are asleep besides a very fragile food supply. It might be time to wake up…

On September 9, 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 hit Vancouver Island. Fortunately, it was deep and reasonably offshore. The northern part of the Island shook a little. Victoria barely felt it.

On the Island, river deltas, like Jordan and Rupert Rivers are deep, but do not enter very far inland. They are not covered with city developments. Now, please imagine a 5.9 quake hitting the western end of the Fraser River delta (a real possibility). What would happen to Richmond, Delta and Vancouver, to the dikes along the river and to the Tsawwasswen and Roberts Bank terminals? We would hardly feel it physically here, but we would feel it in our food supply. Most of our food and everyday home supplies and business input come from the outside. We, on the Island, would be cut off from the Mainland. Don’t count on Seattle to feed us.

Another, real possibility: You may have heard of “Peak Oil”, as a sign that oil reserves reached worldwide a maximum of technically extractable and financially affordable oil. The oil companies and oil-rich countries know what is happening, but play a cat-and-mouse game with us by keeping us in confusion. Systematically, they cheat with the size of their reserves, as a stock exchange game. There was no major discovery of “clean” oil for decades.

New finds are deep, offshore and expensive. New oil comes mostly from tar sands and shales. Very expensive and environmentally catastrophic, yet, officially lauded as the only way to the future and environmentally OK.

One day, more or less soon, these players will have to face reality and make us face it also. This will happen sooner than later, in the economic depression camouflaged under a discourse of “recession” and bloated signs of “recovery”. That will be for us the end of cheap produce coming from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and even Mexico or California.

In both cases, earthquake or oil rarefaction, the question is : where will we get our food and other essential inputs at affordable prices?

The farmers markets in the region cater to the affluent, not to the average people. They say that producing, distributing and selling organic local food is the good job. We, the urbanites, accept that, go to Moss Street on Saturdays and feel good buying some local vegetables from small producers. The large food stores also stock local organic produce. At a price. And we buy most of our supplies from outside sources. Yet, neither they nor us is actually addressing the issue, and I repeat: When we are cut off from the Mainland, where will we get our food and other essential inputs at affordable prices?

I’ll stop here and open up to comments and proposals for action. The ball is in your camp, neighbours. Please
react and let’s work together on this issue.

Contact Yves Bajard, CCFA Board member yves@bajard.net telephone 250-598-4610

This entry was posted in Environment, Local Food Security. Bookmark the permalink.