High food prices and global societal collapse: US researchers warn of a link

If anyone still wants to question or deny whether the era of peaking fossil fuels, along with the epic government-backed financial swindles of the past few decades, will have — is currently having — distinct real-world impacts of a severely disruptive nature, please note the emphasis on the role of biofuels and government deregulation of the financial industry in this story:

The waves of social unrest and political instability seen recently around the world have coincided with large peaks in global food prices, US researchers have found. They warn that unless something is done urgently to address rising food prices, it could trigger more widespread trouble in the near future. Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute , and colleagues, correlated the dates of riots around the world with data from the United Nations that plots changes in the price of food. They found evidence that episodes of social unrest in North Africa and the Middle East coincided closely with peaks in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index.

… [Bar-Yam said] “As we saw in London recently, even relatively affluent people … who do not have to worry about having enough food, can get caught up in conditions of social disorder and exploit them for remarkably small benefits. What we see therefore is a rising force of food prices driving a general collective transition to disorder around the world.”

… The researchers point to two main factors driving the increase in food prices. The first is the deregulation of commodity markets, especially in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan, which allows prices to fluctuate widely. The second is the use of corn to produce ethanol for biofuel.

… “This scenario we see unfolding is very much the scenario that people have been warning about as a global societal collapse,” says Bar-Yam.

Full story at ABC Science. Thank you to 3 Quarks Daily for the heads-up via a tweet.

Forgive me for quoting Rage Against the Machine, but their lyrics, so deeply laced with fury about the social and economic injustices of modern corporate-consumer capitalism, are coming to mind frequently lately as a lashing artistic expression of the reality of many things that are happening:

The clockers born starin’ at an empty plate
Momma’s torn hands cover her sunken face
We hungry but them belly full
The structure is set ya neva change it with a ballot pull

Those lines come from “Down Rodeo,” a song about riots and violence spreading from ghettos into upper-class urban districts. They show up at 1:08 in this fan-made video:

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About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on August 21, 2011, in Economy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.

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