School of Indian Cooking

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Post-Tsunami Japan

Bad days in Japan. Today the Prime Minister even ordered people in some areas not to eat leafy foods while some areas are banned from transporting food. Then there is raised iodine levels in the Tokyo water system. A lot has been made about how it is that a country so prone to earthquakes is so reliant on nuclear power but the fact remains that Japan is massively reliant on hydrocarbon sources  - two thirds of it's energy is based on gas,oil and coal. (In the UK we are 75% reliant on hydrocarbons). The Japanese government now has to make up the loss in power from the Fukushima power plant. It may be able to do this by boosting output from its other nuclear or hydroelectric plants. Or it will have to import more oil and gas. And maybe after the unfolding disaster in Fukishama Japan will reappraise its appetite for nuclear energy?

Maybe other countries will too. This unexpected Japanese dip into the global oil market will push the price up as will the cost of shipping the stuff. The Indian government has to set aside about $1billion in foreign exchange for every $2 rise in the price of a barrel of oil - money diverted from other uses Imagine then the problem facing poor countries  - power, fertilizers, transport all becomes more expensive and ultimately makes those countries reliant on food imports very vulnerable to supply shocks. The human context is increased hunger, food riots, malnutrition, increased child mortality...