Christian Parenti, who writes regularly for The Nation magazine, has published a book detailing some of the present and future social impacts of climate change. In the essay below, he connects the rising cost of bread to the revolutionary uprisings in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Parenti, whose book is called “Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence,” writes that the price of bread is expected to increase by as much as 90 percent over the next 20 years. “That will mean yet more upheavals, more protest, greater desperation, heightened conflicts over water, increased migration, roiling ethnic and religious violence, banditry, civil war, and (if past history is any judge) possibly a raft of new interventions by imperial and possibly regional powers.” —ARK
... between June 2010 and June 2011, world grain prices almost doubled. In many places on this planet, that proved an unmitigated catastrophe. In those same months, several governments fell, rioting broke out in cities from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Nairobi, Kenya, and most disturbingly three new wars began in Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Even on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Bedouin tribes are now in revolt against the country’s interim government and manning their own armed roadblocks.
And in each of these situations, the initial trouble was traceable, at least in part, to the price of that loaf of bread. If these upheavals were not “resource conflicts” in the formal sense of the term, think of them at least as bread-triggered upheavals.
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