Middle East Unrest Adds Pressure On World Food Prices

The missing link is oil, which hit a has new two-and-a-half year high and today topped $108 (£67) a barrel due to the instability in Libya – which has Africa’s biggest crude reserves. The price is moving closer to the record levels of more than $147 (£91), reached just before the financial crash in 2008.But in the longer term, the impact may also be evident on the dinner table because the zigs and zags of oil prices are increasingly being followed by grain.

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Dignity, Bread, And Liberty: The Start of Peak Food Revolutions

“What has changed the placid Egyptian population into a boiling mass of revolt?” Goes the not-so-subtle sub-text of much corporate media coverage. First the supposed quietism of the Egyptian people is over-stated, there have been other strikes and protests in recent years. As recently as 2008 Egyptians rioted over bread prices. Second they are hardly a boiling mass, in fact the remarkable feature of the events in Tahir Square and across the country was the peacefulness, civic organisation and dignity of hundreds of thousands of people demanding change. But the short answer to the question ‘what made it all kick-off?’ is: bread, not twitter. It’s not an RSS feed they’re after: ‘Dignity Bread & Liberty’ is the slogan.

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Hunger For A Change

Sharply rising food prices have often meant trouble for governments, especially when people expect better and the cost of food is a big fraction of average household consumption. In the U.S., where grocery costs are a small fraction of the average budget, it is hard to imagine the effect of sharply rising prices for bread or rice, cooking oil, and other essential foods. It’s seldom been enough for out-of-touch regimes to say, “let them eat paistries” (or brioche, as Marie Antoinette put it in the face of the French revolution).

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World Is One Poor Harvest Away From Chaos, New Book Warns

In his new book “World on the Edge,” released this week, Brown says mankind has pushed civilization to the brink of collapse by bleeding aquifers dry and overplowing land to feed an ever-growing population, while overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

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Are We Witnessing The Start of A Global Revolution?

This rising discontent will spread from the developing world to the comfort of our own homes in the West. Once the harsh realization sets in that the economy is not in ‘recovery,’ but rather in a Depression, and once our governments in the West continue on their path of closing down the democratic façade and continue dismantling rights and freedoms, increasing surveillance and ‘control,’ while pushing increasingly militaristic and war-mongering foreign policies around the world (mostly in an effort to quell or crush the global awakening being experienced around the world), we in the West will come to realize that ‘We are all Tunisians.’

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Steep Oil Prices, Food Shortages Will Likely Spark Deadly Riots This Year

Get ready for a rocky year.  From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society, producing chaos and political unrest. Start with a simple fact: the prices of basic food staples are already approaching or exceeding their 2008 peaks, that year when deadly riots erupted in dozens of countries around the world.

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The Ultimate Oxymoron: Industrial Civilization And Mental Health

The larger issue unaddressed because it is un-named and willfully unexamined, is the paradigm of industrial civilization itself. Historians note that civilization began with sedentary, agricultural communities which evolved into cities. Cities are by definition, communities that are not self-sufficient and depend on external venues for resources. Increasingly, cities became non-agricultural and dependent on other communities and nations for their survival. Disconnection from the land base facilitated what Thomas Berrycalls a “use relationship” with nature and other members of the earth community, including humans.

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High Global Food Prices But Local Solutions?

From the macroeconomic management point of view, rising food prices have several undesirable consequences. They can spur inflation and, if left unchecked, lead to protectionism and social unrest. Already there are reports of rioting in Algeria over high food prices although the high and chronic unemployment among youth has been a factor behind the social unrest.

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A World In Breakdown

The most harmful consequences of the world’s economic and environmental crises are likely to be felt in 2011, and to fall most harshly on millions of marginalised people. The patterns of protests that arise in response can already be seen in (for example) the neo-Maoist Naxalites in India, unrest in China and the riots in Tunisia. Some of the responses may coalesce into radical movements that will yet eclipse anything seen in the world’s financial hubs.

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The Peak Oil Crisis: Civil Unrest

America’s problem today is that almost nobody in any official position is willing to publicly recognize the real nature of the problem we face and start talking about realistic solutions. So long as our elected officials and our media continue to speak endlessly about the recovery that is supposedly underway and continue to hold out the hope that, by voting for this or that candidate, all will be well, the great charade will continue and the people will get madder and madder.

The lack of realism on the part of those in a position to lead public opinion, and the endless repletion of fictions, such as the U.S. unemployment rate now being only 9.4 percent, has left open the door to what were once thought of as extremists to join the political debate and even the Congress. Proposals that are tantamount to national, or perhaps even global, suicide such as defaulting on the national debt, rolling back health care, or dropping environmental regulation are seriously debated as solutions to creating more jobs.

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