How the European energy crisis is causing food shortages

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the politicians making broad and important decisions about energy policy around the world have very little understanding of how their ideal energy systems will play out in the real world.

Unfortunately, the population of the United Kingdom is becoming better acquainted with these unintended consequences.

Many people don’t realize that carbon dioxide is an important ingredient in the food industry. It is used for a variety of purposes, including vacuum packaging vegetables and other foodstuffs and stunning animals before they are butchered; the solid form of carbon dioxide is dry ice, which is used in food delivery.

Skyrocketing energy prices, caused by the U.K.’s reliance upon “reliably unreliable” wind turbines and natural gas have caused fertilizer-producing plants to shut down to avoid paying high prices for energy.

The problem lies in the fact that these fertilizer plants also produce food-grade carbon dioxide as a by-product of making fertilizer. No fertilizer production means no carbon dioxide for food production and distribution.

According to Reuters:

With no CO2, a meat processor cannot operate, he said.

“The animals have to stay on farm. They’ll cause farmers on the farm huge animal welfare problems and British pork and British poultry will disappear off the shelves,” Allen said.

“We’re two weeks away from seeing some real impacts on the shelves,” he said, adding that poultry could start disappearing from shops even sooner.

Minnesota farmers got a bitter taste of what shuttered meatpacking facilities meant for their family budgets when COVID-19 caused multiple pork-processing facilities to shut down. With nowhere to take their hogs, farmers were forced to kill hundreds of thousands of perfectly good animals because they had nowhere to take them.

As someone who grew up on a small farm in Wisconsin, I cannot think of a worse feeling than knowing you cared for your livestock and did everything right, only to have it all be for nothing.

Europe’s experience should be a huge warning sign to the Minnesota lawmakers and utility companies that seem eager to follow in the footsteps of our friends across the pond: this will not end well.