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Global Shortages Demand Global Solutions

Despite recent hiccups, the march of globalization will not end. Policymakers must therefore try to establish minimal global conventions and agreements to deal with shortages of food and other essential commodities.

ITHACA – Food shortages are beginning to cast a shadow over the world. One long-term factor is the warming of our planet, which has slowly destroyed agricultural land. But the proximate cause of greatest concern is the war in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea blockade, which is preventing Ukrainian grain and fertilizers from leaving the port of Odessa.

This is an extremely urgent problem, and policymakers are rightly scrambling to solve it. But there is also a generic problem, beyond the immediate emergency, that needs to be understood if we are to overcome the current food crisis. It arises from our failure to keep pace with the march of economic globalization by implementing global policy and conventions.

Since late 2019, the world has been in relentless crisis mode as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain disruptions, and now Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine. This train of crises has naturally left all concerned citizens rushing to put out one fire after another. But, if we spend all our resources fighting fires, we will probably fail to produce innovative flame-resistant institutions. In this spirit, I want to step back from our immediate concerns, grave as they are, to address their underlying causes.

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