John Maquire: One Year Away from Global Food Riots + US Food Fraud RECAP

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John MaguireWe Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say

What’s the number one reason we riot? The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many—poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc—but the big one is more primal than any of the above. It’s hunger, plain and simple. If there’s a single factor that reliably sparks social unrest, it’s food becoming too scarce or too expensive. So argues a group of complex systems theorists in Cambridge, and it makes sense.

In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they did. The number one determinant was soaring food prices. Their model identified a precise threshold for global food prices that, if breached, would lead to worldwide unrest.

Click on Image to Enlarge
Click on Image to Enlarge

The MIT Technology Review explains how CSI’s model works: “The evidence comes from two sources. The first is data gathered by the United Nations that plots the price of food against time, the so-called food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. The second is the date of riots around the world, whatever their cause.” Plot the data, and it looks like this:

Pretty simple. Black dots are the food prices, red lines are the riots. In other words, whenever the UN’s food price index, which measures the monthly change in the price of a basket of food commodities, climbs above 210, the conditions ripen for social unrest around the world. CSI doesn’t claim that any breach of 210 immediately leads to riots, obviously; just that the probability that riots will erupt grows much greater. For billions of people around the world, food comprises up to 80% of routine expenses (for rich-world people like you and I, it’s like 15%). When prices jump, people can’t afford anything else; or even food itself. And if you can’t eat—or worse, your family can’t eat—you fight.

Click on Image to Enlarge
Click on Image to Enlarge

But how accurate is the model? An anecdote the researchers outline in the report offers us an idea. They write that “on December 13, 2010, we submitted a government report analyzing the repercussions of the global financial crises, and directly identifying the risk of social unrest and political instability due to food prices.” Four days later, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire as an act of protest in Tunisia. And we all know what happened after that.

Today, the food price index is hovering around 213, where it has stayed for months—just beyond the tip of the identified threshold. Low corn yield in the U.S., the world’s most important producer, has helped keep prices high.

“Recent droughts in the mid-western United States threaten to cause global catastrophe,” Yaneer Bar-Yam, one of the authors of the report, recently told Al Jazeera. “When people are unable to feed themselves and their families, widespread social disruption occurs. We are on the verge of another crisis, the third in five years, and likely to be the worst yet, capable of causing new food riots and turmoil on a par with the Arab Spring.”

Yet the cost of food hasn’t quite yet risen to the catastrophic levels reached last year. Around the time of the riots cum-revolutions, we saw the food price index soar through 220 points and even push 240. This year, we’ve pretty consistently hovered in the 210-216 range—right along the cusp of danger. But CSI expects a perilous trend in rising food prices to continue. Even before the extreme weather scrambled food prices this year, their 2011 report predicted that the next great breach would occur in August 2013, and that the risk of more worldwide rioting would follow. So, if trends hold, these complex systems theorists say we’re less than one year and counting from a fireball of global unrest.

But the reality is that such predictions are now all but impossible to make. In a world well-warmed by climate change, unpredictable, extreme weather events like the drought that has consumed 60% of the United States and the record heat that has killed its cattle are now the norm. Just two years ago, heat waves in Russia crippled its grain yield and dealt a devastating blow to global food markets—the true, unheralded father of the Arab Spring was global warming, some say.

And it’s only going to get worse and worse and worse. Because of climate change-exacerbated disasters like these, “the average price of staple foods such as maize could more than double in the next 20 years compared with 2010 trend prices,” a new report from Oxfam reveals. That report details how the poor will be even more vulnerable to climate change-induced food price shocks than previously thought. After all, we’ve “loaded the climate dice,” as NASA’s James Hansen likes to say, and the chances of such disasters rolling out are greater than ever.

This all goes to say that as long as climate change continues to advance—it seems that nothing can stop that now—and we maintain a global food system perennially subject to volatile price spikes and exploitation from speculators, without reform, our world will be an increasingly restive one. Hunger is coming, and so are the riots.

Phi Beta Iota:  Emphasis added.  The article does not take into account the continued legalized crime of food futures speculation that is driving prices up — a crime legalized by the politcal element of government for the Wall Street traders.   The US National Intelligence Council (parked at CIA) is supposed to issue a report on food futures in two years.  Rumor has it they have not started, have no analytic model, no global outreach stratgy, and are highly likely to miss their deadline and not produce anything truly useful.

See Also:

Anthony Judge: 30 Disabling Global Trends (Checklist)

Berto Jongman: 50 Global Risks, 5 Categories, 5 Major Crises, 3 Major Risk Cases

Berto Jongman: Africa Being Plundered — Loses Twice as Much to Corruption as Receives from Donors

Berto Jongman: China Pandemic — Thousands of Dead Pigs in Rivers, Mutating Virus in Chickens, GMO Connection

Berto Jongman: Food Security Index & Map 2013

Berto Jongman: Managing Famine Risk – Linking Early Warning to Early Action

Berto Jongman: USA Raises Permissible Radioative Levels for Water and Soil — Civilian Cancer Deaths Projected to Rise to 1 in 23 versus 1 in 10,000

Berto Jongman: USG & Wall Street Manipulating Grain Futures?

Berto Jongman: World Food Crisis + Food RECAP

Chalres Faddis: Hunger Line Moves North Across Europe

Chuck Spinney: Austerity Economics is Fraud — Primer for Citizens

Eagle: American Diet – a Study in Self-Destruction

Eagle: BRICS to USA, World Bank, IMF — “Piss Off” — Meanwhile, South Africa & China Talk About All of Africa

Eagle: GMO Toxins in 98% Unborn Babies

Eagle: Jon Rappoport: Congress, Not Monsanto, Is Our Center of Gravity

Gold Transformer: Screw the 99% – Let’s Shift Inflation to Medical, Rent, Education, Food, and Communications – QE3 Of, By, and For the 1%

John Robb: Crazy Costly Agriculture versus Sane Affordable Agriculture

Josh Kilbourne: 21 Graphic Depictions of US Health Costs Compared to Other Nations + Health Fraud RECAP

Koko: Arsenic in US-Grown Rice – Threat to Babies

Michelle Monk: Monsanto Protest in Las Vegas Attracts 2,000 — Meanwhile, China, Haiti, Hungary Incinerate Monsanto Corn, Millions March Against Monsanto

Mini-Me: African Union at 50 — Anti-NATO Anti-EU or an EU-NATO ACT Opportunity? How Should EU-NATO Engage BRICS Over Africa?

Mini-Me: End Hunger, 3D Printed Food — GMO on Steroids, Toxins Free

Owl: Between April and June 2012 more Americans were added to the food stamp program than found jobs…

Reference: US IC Global Water Security Study

SchwartzReport: 1 in 4 US Children on Food Stamps

SchwartzReport: 25% of Americans Struggle to Afford Food; Latin American Inequality Improving While US Most Unequal Country on the Planet

SchwartzReport: 9 Surprising Facts About Junk Fund

SchwartzReport: Big Sugar Does a Big Tobacco — True Cost of Sugar to Society

SchwartzReport: Boycott Monsanto + GMO RECAP

SchwartzReport: Corporate Prison Crime & Corporate Agriculture Crime — Blessed Once Again by the US Government

SchwartzReport: Corrupt and Inept US Government Allows Rampant Food Substitution and Mislabeling — As High as 52% — California and New York City the Worst

SchwartzReport: Environmental & Food Intelligence CIA Will Never Compute

SchwartzReport: Europe Saving the Bees — Corruption — and Good News

SchwartzReport: Food-Borne Illness Epidemic in USA (48 Million) FDA on Sidelines

SchwartzReport: Franken-Wheat Crime Against Humanity?

SchwartzReport: Genetically Modified Food = Dead Bees No Pollination & Human Cancers in Throat, Kidneys, and Liver — Oh, We Almost Forgot — Infertility by the Third Generation of Eaters

SchwartzReport: Genetic Modication – Case Study in Fraud, Waste, & Abuse Starting with Corruption of Information and Falsification of Intelligence

SchwartzReport: Genetic Modification of Crops Insanely Criminal — and Chemicalization of Agricultural Production Contributing to Climate Change

SchwartzReport: GMO Poison, Nuclear Seepage, Eat Less Die Less, Obama’s Three Failures

SchwartzReport: Government Not Labeling GMO So New Non-Profit Certifiying Non-GMO — Meanwhile, Nanoparticles Entering Food Industry and Harming Blood-Brain Barrier

SchwartzReport: LEAKED: US Government Spending Millions on Behalf of Monsanto, Bribing and Blocking Foreign Bio-Tech

SchwartzReport: McDonald’s McRib — Toxic to the Non-Bone

SchwartzReport: Mercury Poisoning Going Critical

SchwartzReport: Only in the USA — Breeding Nutrition Out of Food While Religious Zealots Buy & Further Corrupt Health Systems

SchwartzReport: Over-Fishing Affecting Entire Ocean Food-Chain

SchwartzReport: Supreme Court vs. Monsanto, Autisim, Obesity, & Premature Puberty All Because of Corrupt Food Practices

SchwartzReport: The Cycle of Evil — Monsanto, Banks, Bees, & Myths of Martyrdom

SchwartzReport: Bees Make 70 of 90 Human Foods Possible — US Lost One Third of All Bee Colonies in 2012, While EU Striving to Protect Their Bees

SchwartzReport: Seven Sins of GMO Lobby — Toxicity & Infertility — True Cost of Commercialization and Corruption of Basic Science

SchwartzReport: The Drugging of America Via Food — Enabled by the Loss of Intelligence and Integrity Across Whole of Government

SchwartzReport: US FDA Complicit in Poisoning of Food

SchwartzReport: US GMO Food is Mega-TOXIC

SchwartzReport: US Tops in Brain Diseases, GMO Foods Use More Water and Contaminate Water Not Used

SchwartzReport: Worst Bee Die-Off in 40 Years — Meanwhile, US Poor Make $2.13 versus Koch Brothers $3 Million an Hour

SmartPlanet: Half of All Food Wasted

Theophillis Goodyear: 1992 Explicit Warning Ignored by USA and Others