Around the World, Social Unrest Starts with Soaring Food Prices

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/food/when-hunger-strikes

The climate change-fueled battles over food and resources have already begun.

By> Stefanie Krasnow
May 5, 2014

From 2008 to 2014, insurrectionist activity has sequentially erupted across the globe, from Tunisia and Egypt to Syria and Yemen; from Greece, Spain, Turkey and Brazil to Thailand, Bosnia, Venezuela and the Ukraine.

In every instance, there was a tipping point: in Tunisia, it was Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation; in New York City, it was the Wall Street bailout; in Istanbul, it was a few threatened trees in Gezi Park; in Brazil, it was a 20-cent increase in transit fare. Today, the rest of our world seems poised to erupt, with every nation near and far harboring its own Achilles heel, its own tender nerve of geopolitical vulnerability at risk of getting pricked.

Thanks to corporate media, which conveniently co-opts the restless amnesia of the news cycle to distract attention from ongoing, systemic issues, this global revolutionary fervor has been presented to us as a bunch of sound and fury that rises and falls and amounts to nothing. But beneath what we’ve come to perceive as isolated and distinct events is a shared but neglected root cause of environmental crisis. What most people don’t realize is that outbreaks of social unrest are preceded, usually, by a single pattern — an unholy trinity of drought, low crop yield and soaring food prices.

So what do the Arab Spring, Syrian civil war, Occupy Gezi, and the recent conflicts in the Ukraine, Venezuela, Bosnia and Thailand all have in common? Expensive food… and not much of it.

As Nafeez Ahmed writes for the Guardian:

“The pattern is clear. Food price spikes in 2008 coincided with the eruption of social unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Cameroon, Mozambique, Sudan, Haiti, and India, among others. In 2011, the price spikes preceded social unrest across the Middle East and North Africa — Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Libya, Uganda, Mauritania, Algeria, and so on.”

Last year, world food prices were the third highest they’ve ever been. The second-to-worst and worst years for inflated global food costs were 2012 and 2011 respectively.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/when-hunger-strikes

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