Weekend: Population, Food, and Oil

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted June 25, 2011

Welcome to the Energy and Capital Weekend Edition — our insights from the week in investing and links to our most-read Energy and Capital and sister publication articles.

The world will hit 7 billion people by the end of this month or early next.

And while I love the incessant stream of cute kiddie pictures now clogging up the tubes of the Internet as much as the next guy, I can’t help but be reminded of a quote from The Matrix, as Agent Smith tries to explain the problems with humans to Neo.

I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.

I’ve seen similar sentiments expressed in YouTube videos that ask the question, “Are humans smarter than yeast?”, because yeast knows when to stop reproducing relative to the amount of resources available.

I know it’s not the most optimistic fodder. But as we cross another billion-person milestone in global population, it must be chewed.


Before you get to the rest of this week’s articles and investment ideas below, I’d like to share with you the response I offered to premium members of my Alternative Energy Speculator after telling them world population would soon hit seven billion:

All of us need energy, food, and water. And all three are getting increasingly hard to come by.

Oil supplies are so tight the IEA has announced the opening of 60 million barrels worth of strategic oil reserves to offset lost Libyan production.

Food supplies are so tight the U.N. recently warned the world of an imminent crisis. Food security and nutrition representative David Nabarro told The Associated Press last week that “shortages of food, water and power are bound to create social anxiety and political instability in the future.”

He added, “Anybody who thinks that 2008 represented some kind of peak is dreaming.”

That said, let’s get back into two ETFs we’ve used to play this trend before.

First, the ProShares Ultra Crude Oil (NYSE: UCO). It’s bouncing all over today, so be stingy and set a limit order for below $39.00.

Second, the PowerShares Agriculture Double Long (NYSE: DAG). Let’s aim for that one under $13.15.

As an individual investor, you can’t control what goes on in Washington, nor the 310 million people in its jurisdiction. And you certainly can’t control everything 7 billion people with different cultures and religions will do.

But you can profit from what a growing population inherently means for the world’s resources: increased prices.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge



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