The Impending Global Bacon Shortage… and Climate Change

We are all so very screwed. Here is a CBS News report to ruin your day:

Britain’s National Pig Association, “the voice of the British pig industry,” warned recently that a global shortage of bacon and pork “is now unavoidable” because of shrinking herds…[A]nnual pig production for Europe’s main pig producers fell across the board between 2011 and 2012, a trend that “is being mirrored around the world.” The group tied the decline to increased feed costs, an effect of poor harvests for corn and soybeans…

But the projected decline isn’t news to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In its monthly outlook report (PDF) from August, the department linked a reduction next year in the United States to this year’s drought in the Midwest.

The USDA estimates that US pork production in 2013 will total 23 billion pounds, which seems like a yacht-load of chops and bacon, until you consider that it would constitute a roughly 1.3 percent decrease from 2012’s estimated total, which leaves Americans with barely 45 pounds of pork per capita in 2013. In 2012, it was over 46 pounds per capita.

Sure, the forecasted shortage is relatively slight, if significant. But in case you’re having trouble grasping the concept of the delicious tonnage that’s at stake, here’s some visual aid:

Bacon. wEnDaLicious/FlickrBacon. wEnDaLicious/Flickr

Bacon. Martino's doodles/FlickrAnarchy in the Bacon. Martino’s doodles/Flickr

The Greatest Bacon In The World. Martino's doodles/FlickrThe Greatest Bacon In The World. Martino’s doodles/Flickr(Also, bacon sundaes.)

I think Netroots Nation’s executive director put it best:

As CBS News reported, the projected US pork deficit is in large part attributed to the epic drought that swept through the Midwest this summer. The odds that this record-breaking heat wave occurred without anthropogenic global warming? A high estimate of 1 in 1.6 million, and a conservative estimate of 1 in 100,000.

In related news, fracking chemicals can easily leak into major water supplies and threaten the purity of your beer.

You read that right: The manmade forces of climate change and hyrdraulic fracturing are imperiling America’s bacon and brews.

If that doesn’t turn you on to a life of environmentalism, then I don’t know what will.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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