Monday, August 2, 2010

Victoria's Green Matters - 5th August

 Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury: 
Living a greener lifestyle also means living more ethically. There have been reports lately about hedge fund managers speculating on food prices and causing huge price instability that threatens the most vulnerable people in the world.

World food prices are gradually increasing because of climate change, population growth and increased demand.  Speculators are taking advantage of these trends and making them much worse which can be devastating for farmers. Prices for cocoa, for example, are at a thirty-year high but the price may fall as suddenly next year, leaving farmers wondering what to grow and causing shortages of important food crops. There are new pressures on land use because of the changing diets in different countries. With more affluence, the Chinese are moving to a more meat based diet and so need far more land to grow feed for more animals.

Speculating on anything will cause price fluctuations but it seems doubly unprincipled to speculate on food prices when this can cause starvation for many of the poorer people of the world.  In recent years bankers have lobbied for less and less regulation, enabling them to speculate more easily in agricultural contracts, destabilising and driving up food prices. It is difficult to imagine a more unavailing way to earn a living; not making or mending anything, not working to help others, just gambling that certain prices may rise or fall and pocketing the profit.

City traders, with their huge bonuses, have caused house prices to rise in London and, to a lesser extent, throughout the country, making it impossible for young people to get on the property ladder. Greed fuelled the economic crisis that the world is now battling to get under control and this must somehow be curtailed if we are to live sustainably.

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