For two years I’ve warned you about food shortages due to Europe’s energy crisis. Now that they’re here, we can all blame… wait for it… Brexit! No, seriously, before we dig into why I think you should get used to food shortages in the future, let’s quickly review why they’re here today.

In October 2021, the first signs of what was coming became obvious.

The Dutch rejected bringing their Groningen gas production back online, having shut it over emissions goals. As a result, the largest greenhouses in Europe have gone dark.

It takes 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to keep the Paris-sized 10,000 hectares of greenhouse food and flower growing space in the Netherlands heated. But that’s now unaffordable thanks to soaring European gas prices, putting 9.2 billion euros of exports at risk.

I wonder what that’ll do to food prices, which are already near decade highs…

In January of last year, I explained the connection.

Energy and food production are tied at the pip.

That’s especially true over in the Netherlands, where a huge amount of Europe’s food is grown in greenhouses. That makes them very energy dependent, and so food prices are tied to energy prices.

The Dutch greenhouses, however, didn’t just decide to charge more for their food. That would be too capitalist. Instead, they followed the socialist playbook and reduced a lot of their production. I wonder what the consequences might be?

We also discussed the role of natural gas in fertiliser and how the trade off of using a lot of fertiliser to produce more food had been changed by the spike in gas prices.

And I wasn’t the only one warning about the impending obvious. This article in the Guardian highlights just how predictable the shortages are:

Multiple glasshouses owned by tomato grower APS Group were left empty last year, for the first time in the business’s 80-year history.

The current shortages of tomatoes and other salad crops on British supermarket shelves have unfortunately come as no surprise to Philip Pearson, development director at the UK’s largest tomato producer.

“We did say, as an industry, last year: ‘If you don’t support us through the winter you will have empty shelves,’” Pearson says. “Government didn’t listen, our customers didn’t listen, nobody listened.

“I don’t want to sound ‘I told you so,’ as that doesn’t help anybody, but we are where we were worried we would end up.”

The Guardian does occasionally remind me why I read it every day.

So, despite the fact that goods have been going missing from shelves ever since the pandemic began, Brexit is still getting all the attention.

Despite the fact that my family in Australia were facing the same shortages just weeks ago, they were caused by Brexit.

To be fair, though, Brexit is clearly to blame in some ways. Because it has exposed how incredibly stupid UK immigration policy is. The Guardian continues:

Under post-Brexit visa rules, seasonal workers are only allowed to stay for six months at a time, meaning two cohorts of staff are required.

“What that means to us is I now have to train everybody twice. I have to use my best people to train the new people, so my productivity at the peak of the season is really struggling,” Pearson said, adding this was true for the whole industry.

What a mind-numbingly stupid policy. The same amount of people is here in the end, it’s just more expensive if you swap them around.

But it’s tough to argue that tomatoes which weren’t grown didn’t get picked because of a lack of EU-based workers.

Anyway, let’s dig into why all this is just a taster to whet your appetite for food shortages.

Economists, physicists, geologists, scientists and engineers are gradually realising that net zero isn’t going to mean what politicians expect. We aren’t going to live our lives using wind and solar-powered batteries, driving electric vehicles and pumping carbon into underground caverns. Instead, the government is making our Procrustean bed, preparing to cut down our lives to the size that green energy can deliver.

And so net zero actually means living under climate lockdowns and carbon rationing. Because the economics, physics, resource constraints and engineering realities mean we cannot sustain life as we know it on a net-zero constraint.

At least, that’s the claim I make in next month’s issue of The Fleet Street Letter. It’s been a delight to research so far…

As I see it, net zero will mean we use ration cards based on carbon emissions allocations. Indeed, the debate is already whether we’ll be allowed to buy and sell such rights to emit, not whether we’ll have them at all.

Net zero, after all, requires accounting for emissions in order to establish how much we need to offset. The government must know what you’re doing. And must be able to stop you from doing it.

Which might sound implausible, if my bank weren’t already calculating my carbon footprint based on spending habits and then asking me to offset it…

Given gas is used to grow food year round in greenhouses, I suspect greenhouse grown food is going to get a cull early on. Ironic given the gas fuel used for heating the greenhouses is also used to spew toxic carbon dioxide into the greenhouses to promote plant growth…

My point is this: just as the current food shortage was caused by an energy crisis, so too will future energy crises imposed by net zero cause food shortages. And persistent imposed shortages mean rationing, unless we want to start a bidding war.

So, if you’re facing empty shelves, get used to it. And don’t forget to sign up to Britcoin to make rationing easier to impose.

Nick Hubble
Editor, Fortune & Freedom