A new revealing book on the moon hoax by Bart Sibrel.
The moon landing, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the lunar surface, took place during the space race between the U.S. and Russia. Both nations were vastly expanding their space programs, with Russia having become the first country to send a person—cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin—into space eight years earlier.
Soon after the moon landing, the Soviet Union denied it had been in a space race with the U.S., either claiming they had no lunar program or criticizing NASA’s efforts. Some politicians in America use the denials from Russia to claim U.S. officials had invented the race to justify the millions invested in advancing the lunar program. It would be decades before the Soviets confirmed they had been attempting a moon landing. In 1989, the New York Times published an article titled “Russians Finally Admit They Lost Race to Moon.”
Conspiracies about whether the moon landing was faked emerged in the years that followed the Apollo 11 mission. In 1976, Bill Kaysing self-published a pamphlet called “We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle” in which he set out claims against the authenticity of the evidence presented. All his points, such as the flag appearing to wave despite the absence of a breeze, have been debunked by scientists.
But the conspiracy stuck. In 1999 a Gallup poll showed that around five percent of Americans believed the moon landing was a hoax. Twenty years later, a survey by C-SPAN and Ipsos showed this figure had remained stable, with 6 percent of people saying they believe the event was staged. The poll showed belief was higher among younger people, compared with over 50s.
In Russia, support for the conspiracy was far higher. In 2018, Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, was asked whether there are plans to go to the moon. In response, he joked they would go to check if the moon landings were real: “We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they’ve been there or not.”
The latest poll, by the Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), shows belief in the moon landing hoax theory is now falling. In 2018, 57 percent believed the Apollo 11 landing was faked. People aged 45 and over were most likely to believe it was a hoax.
The VCIOM poll, which looked at belief in conspiracy theories, covered topics including the safety of vaccines, whether the Earth was flat and whether aliens have visited Earth.
On the latter subject, 13 percent said representatives of extraterrestrial civilizations visit our planet but that this is hidden from the public by authorities. Twenty three percent say aliens visit Earth but hide from us. Forty eight percent said aliens either do not exist or do not visit Earth.
(source: https://www.newsweek.com/moon-landing-hoax-russia-poll-1521595 )
Between 1969 and 1972, six Apollo missions brought back 382 kg of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from the lunar surface. All of the tests have confirmed that they did come from the Moon
Fifty-one years ago, the historic Apollo 11 mission landed the first human beings on the Moon. An estimated 650 million people watched astronaut Neil Armstrong’s televised image and heard his voice describe the event, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969. According to NASA, the astronauts left behind an “American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque that read, ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind’.” Though the first Moonwalker has died, conspiracy theories claiming that the Moon landings were a hoax and that they were faked, live on. How did the Moon landing conspiracy theories start and what are they?
When did the conspiracies begin?
According to reports, theories that the Moon landing was a hoax that the US government had staged to win the space race with the Soviets began to gain traction in the 1970s.
Bill Kaysing, a former US Navy officer, claimed that he had inside knowledge of a government conspiracy to fake the Moon landings. He wrote, “We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle,” in 1976 and many conspiracy theories about the Apollo Moon landings can be traced to this book. “The basic template of the conspiracy theory is that NASA couldn’t manage to safely land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s as President John F Kennedy had promised, so it only sent astronauts into Earth orbit. Conspiracy theorists then argue that NASA staged the Moon landings in a film studio and that there are tell-tale signs on the footage and the photos that give the game away. They claim that NASA has covered up the elaborate hoax ever since,” writes Peter Knight, professor of American Studies, University of Manchester.
The rise of conspiracy theories has also been attributed to a breakdown in trust between the US government and its citizens. In 1971, for example, the Pentagon Papers showed that the government had repeatedly lied about the Vietnam war. In 1976, a House committee concluded that there was a high chance that there had been a conspiracy to kill John F Kennedy. “That Kaysing’s conspiracy theory took hold in mid-1970s America is in large part due to a wider crisis of trust in the country at the time,” says Knight.
With the 1978 Hollywood film ‘Capricorn One,’ the conspiracy theory got more steam. The plot revolved around the government deceiving the American public into believing that they had landed a manned mission on Mars. “It imagined that a Mars landing was faked in a film studio, tapping into conspiracy rumors that the Moon landings themselves had been directed by Stanley Kubrick. This suggestive myth is based in part on the idea that special effects had become much more sophisticated with Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001 A Space Odyssey, although still far from the capabilities that the conspiracy theories suppose,” explains Knight.
In February 2001, Fox Broadcasting ran a documentary titled “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” According to an article on Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s website, after the Fox program first aired, NASA released a one-paragraph press release, “Apollo: Yes, We Did.” It said, “To some extent debating this subject is an insult to the thousands who worked for years to accomplish the most amazing feats of exploration in history. And it certainly is an insult to the memory of those who have given their lives for the exploration of space.”
While these claims were false and easily debunked, they have persisted to this day. Bull. Public opinion polls over the years regularly show that about 5-6% of Americans believe the Moon landing was faked, Roger Launius, NASA’s former chief historian, told AP last year.
Debunking the conspiracy theories
One question that Moon-hoax enthusiasts often ask is why is the US flag fluttering on the surface? That would be impossible since there’s no air on the Moon, they say. The US flag is fluttering because it has a metal rod sewn into it to give it the appearance of moving in the ‘wind.’ “These flags had a horizontal rod inside to make them stick out from the flagpole. The Apollo 11 astronauts had trouble extending the rod all the way, and in still pictures, this creates a ripple effect that makes the flag look like it’s waving in the wind. In video images of the flag, you can see it only moves while the astronauts are grinding it into the Moon’s surface. After the astronauts step away, it stays in the same bent shape because of the partially-extended rod,” explains History.com.
No stars in the sky in the moonwalkers’ photograph is another argument. According to experts, the daylight on the surface washes them out, just like it does on Earth. The lunar landscape is brightly lit by the Sun, and astronauts were wearing white space suits that are highly reflective. To capture a bright object with a bright background, the exposure time must be fast. Stars are faint objects, and in the fast exposure, they do not have time to register on the film. “The shutter speeds on the astronauts’ cameras were too fast to capture the faint light of the stars, astronomer Emily Drabek-Maunder at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London said. NASA used high shutter speeds to make sure the pictures weren’t overexposed from the bright light on the Moon,” says the AP report. Another popular conspiracy theory is not being able to see the astronauts holding a camera, so who took the pictures. This is because the camera was mounted on the front of the astronauts’ spacesuit.
People also say that Moon landing is fake because the shadows are not right, indicating that artificial light was used. But the problem with this theory is that besides the Sun, the lunar ground also reflects light. “In the Apollo 11 pictures, the sunlight is being scattered or reflected off the ground every which way, and some of it — a small fraction but enough to be able to see — scatters into the shadows,” Rick Fienberg, the press officer for the American Astronomical Society, tells Hisotry.com. This is the reason why in some pictures, one can make out a plaque that Armstrong and Aldrin left on the Moon even though it is lying in shadow.
People also ask why in all the pictures taken by the astronauts, the shadows are not black. They argue that if the Sun is the only source of light on the Moon, and there is no air to scatter that light, shadows should be black. American astronomer Phil Plait explains, “The lunar dust has a peculiar property: it tends to reflect light back in the direction from where it came. So if you were to stand on the Moon and shine a flashlight at the surface, you would see a very bright spot where the light hits the ground, but, oddly, someone standing a bit to the side would hardly see it at all. The light is preferentially reflected back toward the flashlight (and therefore you), and not the person on the side.”
Why do you see footprints in the pictures, but no marks from the lunar modules that landed there? There are footprints but no impressions from the modules because the weight of the modules was more evenly distributed than the astronauts’ weight, which was in their boots. Further, since the Moon has no atmosphere, liquid water or wind erosion, the footprints remain.
And there is more evidence. Between 1969 and 1972, six Apollo missions brought back 382 kilograms (842 pounds) of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from the lunar surface. All of the tests have confirmed that they did come from the Moon. “The six space flights returned 2,200 separate samples from six different exploration sites on the Moon. Besides, three automated Soviet spacecraft returned important samples totaling 300 grams (approximately 3/4 pound) from three other lunar sites. The lunar sample building at Johnson Space Center is the chief repository for the Apollo samples,” says NASA.
In 2009, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, returned its first imagery of the Apollo Moon landing sites. The pictures show the Apollo missions’ lunar module descent stages sitting on the Moon’s surface, as long shadows from a low Sun angle make the modules’ locations evident. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was able to image five of the six Apollo sites. “Not only do these images reveal the great accomplishments of Apollo, they also show us that lunar exploration continues,” said LRO project scientist Richard Vondrak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, in a statement.
(source: https://meaww.com/51-years-apollo-11-people-think-moon-landing-faked-conspiracy-theories-dont-stand )
Lexi McKenna’s work day now includes breaks to help her mother-in-law plant vegetables, which wasn’t possible when she was running her wedding business at breakneck speed out of her Toronto studio.
McKenna and husband Jeff Richards had been intrigued for years by a slower-paced life outside of the city. But it wasn’t until COVID-19 brought their respective businesses — Richards is a chef — to a halt that the two moved from Toronto to the town of Grand Valley to live with his parents.
“We’ve kind of fallen in love with this small-town vibe,” McKenna said. “It’s a really lovely community. There’s a nice sense of security, and then honestly, the pace of life — I’m still getting work done here, but I just don’t have this sense of urgency in everything I do that I do when I’m in Toronto.”
Since the global pandemic first forced Canadians into their homes in late-March, our houses have become our offices, our schools and our recreation centres. And we suddenly see our homes’ shortcomings, and crave more beautiful scenery and space to roam.
That allure, along with the high cost of city living, and the new knowledge that many Canadians can work from home, has more people shopping for homes outside the city.
“In the last 10 days, we have seen an overwhelming migration of people up here,” Chris Keleher, a Royal LePage realtor who specializes in Collingwood and The Blue Mountains, said on Friday.
“The increase in buyer activity has been massive, and 95 per cent of the buyers my team is working with are families where the pandemic has finally been the straw that broke the camel’s back, and they are moving out of the city.”
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force unveiled its service flag on Friday, when top Pentagon officials presented President Donald Trump with the sixth military branch’s official colors during a private Oval Office ceremony marking Armed Forces Day.
In photos tweeted out by a Reuters photographer, Trump is seen smiling as the Space Force’s senior enlisted leader, Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, holds up the new flag representing the military service charged with carrying out the Pentagon’s space-based operations. The new service was officially stood up in December when the president — who championed the force’s cause even as some Pentagon leaders initially pushed back on it necessity — signed a law mandating its creation.
The brief ceremony was open only to the daily White House press pool, which includes a reporter and news photographer who share details of the event with other media members. The pool photographer, Steve Holland with the Reuters news agency, shared the photo from inside the Oval Office, revealing the black flag for the new service — the first new military branch in 72 years.
Among people attending the ceremony were the Space Force’s top officer Gen. Jay Raymond, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said the flag reveal was “a very historic moment,” according to a pool report.
Raymond, the chief of space operations, told Trump that the prominent star design on the black and platinum-colored flag represented the North Star, which “signifies our core value, our guiding light.” (source: https://www.stripes.com/news/us/space-force-unveils-its-service-flag-at-white-house-ceremony-1.629914 )
This show first appeared on Mae Brussell in 1981. Bill Kaysing may have written the first book on the moon hoax. We Never Went To The Moon. Edited for concise content and redundancy.
It’s all about money. If the processing plants’ commercial and restuarant customer base is depleted, they will sit on their hands making demand go down, even though demand has actually gone up. It’s not like oil, where demand is reflected on population movement habits and a shift in workforce behavior. We have demand in food commodities that is false. Get ready.
A Texas food bank distributed more than 1 million pounds of food to about 10,000 families, whose cars sat bumper to bumper in a parking lot for the record-setting distribution event this week amid the coronavirus crisis.
About 6,000 households preregistered on the San Antonio Food Bank’s website for Thursday’s distribution held at Trader’s Village, Food Bank president and CEO Eric Cooper told the San Antonio Express-News.
But thousands more showed up for the giveaway — and aerial photos show the parking lot chock-full of cars. Cooper called it the largest single-day distribution in the nonprofit’s 40-year history.
“It was a rough one today,” he told the Express-News. “We have never executed on as large of a demand as we are now.”
(source: https://nypost.com/2020/04/10/10k-families-gathered-at-san-antonio-food-bank-distribution-event/ )
I am Gabrielle Canon, filling in for Arline Martinez. We made it to Friday!
But first, as of Friday afternoon, there were more than 11,300 confirmed cases in California, with the most concentrated in Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous. In the Golden State, 250 people in California have already lost their lives to the virus.
But the Golden State is still lagging far behind others in how quickly it can test symptomatic residents — let along those who aren’t sick enough to qualify for a test. Public health officials expect the number of people with coronavirus is a lot higher than the test numbers indicate, and have begun cautiously recommending that anyone leaving their homes (for essential reasons only!) wear something — like a scarf or bandana — over their face so they don’t run the risk of infecting others.
Despite the surging numbers — and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s update that California’s cases are expected to continue rising with a peak in early May — there’s evidence that the fast-acting decision to issue the nation’s first statewide shelter-in-place order is helping. Here’s to staying home.
In California brings you stories and information from newsrooms across the USA TODAY Network and beyond to keep you safe and informed. Subscribe today for free delivery right to your inbox every evening M-F.
Newsom launches Project Roomkey to house the homeless in hotels
At Newsom’s noon briefing on Friday (now a regular thing that can be watched online on the governor’s Twitter page), he announced that the state had secured roughly 7,000 hotel rooms that will be made available to the homeless. The program, which aims to obtain a total of 15,000 units in areas where large numbers of people sleep on the streets, is intended to help curb the spread of COVID-19 among this highly vulnerable community.
The rooms come complete with “essential wraparound services,” including cleaning, laundry, security and other support staff. Some areas will also benefit from a partnership with Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, which will provide three meals a day.
More than 800 people have already moved in.
“What we want to do is relieve the stress in our shelter system,” Newsom said. “If left unaddressed, we allow our most vulnerable residents in the state of California to be exposed to this virus.”
California is the first state to secure FEMA funding for such a project, and the state will be reimbursed by the federal agency for up to 75% of costs.
The Trump administration announced $3 billion Thursday for homelessness pandemic efforts. Newsom has pledged $150 million in homeless aid, including money for hotel rooms.
There are more than 150,000 homeless people in California. Advocates have been concerned and critical of how slow officials were to address the higher risks faced by the homeless population, especially in the face of closures of public libraries and other facilities, which made it even more difficult for the unhoused to access water, food, and restrooms.
Still, the National Alliance to End Homelessness praised the plan.
“Through Project Roomkey, California has taken the lead in protecting homeless residents from COVID-19,” said president Nan Roman in a statement. “This initiative sets a strong national example of how state leaders can leverage their dollars with FEMA, HUD and other federal funds to address the needs of the most vulnerable homeless populations in this crisis and protect public health.”
Here’s how to protect yourself from coronavirus scams
It’s sad to think there are people out there exploiting this emergency and preying on pandemic fears to turn a profit. But, well, sigh.
While we can’t stop scammers, are ways to be vigilant and not fall victim to online tricks. The Federal Communications Commission has shared some helpful tools and examples of what to expect, to keep you ahead of the game.
Got a call offering free home testing kits? SCAM.
Maybe a text message came in from a Department of Health and Human Services official ordering you to take a mandatory online screening test? SCAM.
Someone has called saying you need to verify your personal information to get your federal stimulus check, a loan for your small business, or student loan debt forgiveness? SCAM, SCAM, SCAM.
Report anything that seems suspicious or consult this list of tips from the Feds:
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
- Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
- Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
- Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
- Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
- Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.
E-sports, big cats, and one man’s attempt to vacation from home
Sports events have been canceled, much to the dismay of fans now home on their couches looking for something to watch. If ever there was a moment for e-sports, it is now.
People are tuning in to watch others play video games.
Nascar drivers are now behind the wheels of virtual cars.
And now, you can even get your basketball fix with the NBA’S 2K Players Tournament. The LA Times has all the details here.
Sports not your thing? Already binge-watched Tiger King? Try looking out your window— some Gilroy residents have spotted big cats this week. Mountain lions, to be exact. Just another reason not to leave your house.
If all else fails, here’s how The Desert Sun’s columnist Shad Powers survived a staycation.
Federal Judge rules that gun stores aren’t essential
Even as businesses shuttered across the state under Newsom’s shelter-in-place orders, lines outside gun stores could be seen wrapping around buildings. It’s not just happening in California.
As fears spiked alongside coronavirus numbers in recent weeks, Americans have purchased a record-breaking number of firearms. Federal data shows that more than 3.7 million background checks were conducted in March, shattering a more than 20-year record.
But some California county officials have cracked down on the businesses, ordering them to close. Gun rights advocates argue that they should be considered “essential” enterprises, which are exempt from the orders.
A federal judge has now officially disagreed.
U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled against Camarillo resident Donald McDougall, who filed for a temporary order blocking gun stores from closing in Ventura County, claiming that his constitutional rights had been violated by the order.
In a two-page opinion, Marshall acknowledged the importance of protecting the Second Amendment but ruled that protecting public health is a priority, writing, “the county order does not specifically target handgun ownership, does not prohibit the ownership of a handgun outright, and is temporary.”
Still, it’s not a done deal. McDougall is hoping for help from powerful pro-gun organizations.
In a separate suit, the National Rifle Association sued several California cities and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for closing gun shops during the COVID-19 response.
Two coronavirus deaths in one Sheriff’s Department
On Friday morning, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department shared tragic news — a second deputy has died after getting coronavirus.
Deputy David Werksman was 51 years old and had devoted 22 years to serving his community. Described as kind and always willing to help, department leaders said the department is reeling from the second loss of the week. On Thursday, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced that Deputy Terrell Young had died from the virus.
“I’m seriously heartbroken,” Bianco said during an afternoon news conference outside the sheriff’s department in Riverside. “We are reeling from the reality that this virus has taken the lives of two of our family members in the past 24 hours. Our hearts and our prayers go out to Deputy Werksman’s and Deputy Young’s families.”
Newsom shared that Santa Rosa Police Department Det. Marylou Armer was the first line of duty death of a police officer in California associated with COVID-19. She was 44.
“Jennifer and I are terribly saddened to learn of Detective Armer’s untimely death. Amid the current fight against COVID-19, Detective Armer selflessly and courageously served her community and the people of California,” Newsom said in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and members of the Santa Rosa community as they mourn her loss.”
The flags are being flown at half-staff to honor her.
That’s it from me tonight. Hope you all stay safe and #STAYHOME this weekend.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Press Democrat, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian.
10Never Fully Acknowledged As Being Real
9Why Is Area 51 Named What It Is?
Juliet Montague once asked herself “What’s in a name?” In the case of Area 51, no one knows. There have been countless theories and musings about it, though. One theory is that the name originated from a nearby nuclear testing site that was given the numerical designation of 51.
8An Ever-Expanding Enterprise
Business appears to be booming at Area 51. Between 1984 and 2016, satellite images have revealed the construction of many new infrastructures, including hangars and runways. People have surmised that it’s to test new military aircraft, while others believe that it’s evidence that aircraft of the alien kind are being held there.
7The Moon Landing: Real Event Or Fabrication?
The 1969 moon landing has also been the subject of many conspiracy theories. In fact, conspiracy theorists believe that the moon landing was filmed at Area 51. According to author Bill Kaysing, the moon landing was filmed on the base using meteorites from Antarctica, and the astronauts were subsequently brainwashed,
6Explanations For Early UFO Sightings
In the early days of Area 51, UFO sightings could actually be explained. The base was being used to test U-2 planes, away from civilians. So most of the supposed UFO sightings during that time period could be linked back to this military project. Unless that was just a cover-up…
5Employees Get Special Treatment
No one really considers the people who work in Area 51. USA Today reports that employees actually get shuttled to the base via an unnamed Boeing 737. Flight attendants on these flights are called to be “level-headed and clear thinking while handling unusual incidents and situations”. Interpret that how you will…
4Employees Need To Stay As Off The Grid As Possible
Former employees of Area 51 are coming forward and giving us more information about the inner workings of Area 51. One veteran employee described how they were all sworn to secrecy kept as off the grid as possible. This included a lack of documentation and being paid in cash.
3Even Air 51 Isn’t Impervious To The Court System
Turns out that Area 51 isn’t completely invincible to the law. In the 1990s, lawyer and professor Jonathan Turley was approached by Area 51 workers regarding the hazardous materials they were being exposed to, including jet fuel fumes and hazardous waste. A lawsuit was created, but the government refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing.
2The Best View Of Area 51? Not What You’d Expect
It’s apparently quite easy to see the activities of Area 51… if you know where to look. An anonymous former employee brought people to watch scheduled UFO flights at the Black Mailbox. Yes, that’s right. The best place to view potential alien activity is by a pair of mailboxes!
1Don’t Even Think About Sneaking In For A Rave
While there have been “Storm Area 51” events planned, actually attempting it is not advised. There are signs at the entrance of the restricted zone stating that deadly force will be taken against any trespassers. Also, pilots who fly into the restricted zone can face court martialing and even jail time.
(source: https://www.thetravel.com/area-51-recent-facts/ )
Thanks to Covid-19, governments in most industrialised nations are preparing for shortages of life’s necessities. If they fail, riots over food may be inevitable. Some wonder if we are responding appropriately to Covid-19, and it’s clear that recent events expose a fundamental flaw in the global systems that bring us our daily bread.
We live in a wondrous age when global supply chains seamlessly link farmers and consumers using the principles of ‘just enough, just in time’. For years, companies have worked hard to keep inventories low, timing shipments to balance supply and demand using knife-edge accuracy.
In many ways, this system is a miracle. Low-cost food is one outcome. And if there’s a problem in one part of the supply chain, the global system is good at finding alternatives. (Mangoes from Asia gone bad? Try the mangoes from Central America!)
But with this abundance—and convenience—comes a hidden cost that Covid-19 has exposed: a loss of resilience. Our global food system depends on the tendrils of international trade to wrap the world in an ever more complex system of buyers, sellers, processors and retailers, all of whom are motivated to keep costs low and operations lean.
So when the supply-chain system itself is thrown into question—as it is now thanks to Covid-19—then the wheels threaten to come off the proverbial apple cart. Covid-19 shows that we need to wake up and realise that if we really want to be resilient, we need to build more redundancies, buffers and firewalls into the systems we depend on for life.
In practical terms, this means we should be keeping larger inventories and promoting a greater degree of regional self-sufficiency.
These measures will help ensure that our communities don’t panic if the food deliveries stop.
But while this may sound sensible, high inventories and more regional self-sufficiency are, in fact, antithetical to the ‘just enough, just in time’ approach that drives most of our economy, even though no one’s suggesting we need to be completely self-sufficient all of the time.
Take the systems that produce and distribute the corn, wheat and rice that fuel most of humanity’s calories. The latest United Nations report on the global grain system contains some bad news. Last year, the world ate more grains than it produced within the year, and our carryover stocks (defined as the amount of food we have, globally, at the end of the year to see us through to the next harvest) are declining.
The good news is that this decline comes after a run of good years in which farmers delivered one monumental harvest after another. So our carryover stocks started last year in pretty good shape and this means we’ve currently got about four months of food stored. But there’s a downward trend regarding those stockpiles, and this is worrisome.
But what if Mother Nature doesn’t play nice with us this year?
Climate change, after all, is making food harder to produce. What if we face a major drought in Europe and Asia like we did in 2010 to 2011? Or another big drought in America’s Midwest similar to the situation in 2012 and 2013? And what if Covid-19 doesn’t go away by summer?
If any of these things happen, we may not have the buffers to protect ourselves. And it won’t be toilet paper and hand sanitiser we need to worry about. It might be wheat, rice and corn.
Today, conventional wisdom is that the average city in North America has a three-day supply of fresh food (dried, canned and other preserved food supplies will last a bit longer). This, according to some, means that we are all only ever ‘nine meals from anarchy’. Luckily, North American supermarkets have sophisticated supply chains, so no one is seriously suggesting that the panicked purchasing of the last few days that has emptied shelves will persist. Nevertheless, the systems we depend upon are, in many ways, fragile and inherently vulnerable.
In all likelihood, Covid-19 will pass and most of us will only suffer economic setbacks from lost wages and disruptions linked with cancelled classes, travel and meetings. But in the aftermath, it’s important to ask whether we—as a society—will treat this as a moment to learn a bit about the fragility of the modern world.
Will we work collectively to put resilience alongside efficiency as a primary driver for the systems we depend on each and every day to feed ourselves?
Evan Fraser is a professor, director of the Arrell Food Institute and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. This article was originally published on The Conversation.
This article appeared at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.