Will We Start Seeing More Food Riots?

Food shortages played a large role in the events of the Arab Spring, and writer Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed says that, given current conditions, such events will happen more widely and more frequently.

What's the Latest Development?


The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization reports that despite recent stabilization, the food price index -- which measures the cost of a typical basket of food commodities -- is still high enough to trigger civil unrest in parts of the world, and that prices are expected to rise even higher this year. The US Department of Agriculture agrees, predicting a hike of between 3 and 4 percent. Writer Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed notes that record high food prices played a significant role in the events that led up to the Arab Spring, and that these may very well become "the new normal" if current conditions are left unchanged.

What's the Big Idea?

Ahmed describes how the combination of climate change, adverse weather, compromised land productivity, and the food industry's ongoing dependence on fossil fuels will affect struggling economies around the world, including those currently grappling with the recent debt crisis. He says, "[T]his creates a perfect storm of problems which will guarantee high prices – eventually triggering civil unrest – for the foreseeable future" and cites a paper published this year in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B that goes so far as to suggest "civilisational collapse" within this century.

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