2013 Will Probably Suck

Climate change is helping to change the world in many ways. Aside from the obvious natural catastrophes of millions dead, it is aiding the cutting of the thin strings that hold the world together. This stems from one of the most critical factors climate change assaults; food. Shortage of food cause humanitarian disasters, but it is also the catalyst of something more profound: revolutions. Many things have led to revolutions throughout the ages, but food is the factor that above all increases the chance of them happening, people who can’t afford, or can barely afford anything but food not surprisingly having less to lose. Therefore, I think it is likely that quite a few parts of the world could mimic the Arab Spring.

The background is that extreme weather effects give worse harvests all over the world. The US has broken the heat record from the dust bowl days of 1936, and has the worst corn harvests in six years, despite also a record amount of corn being sown. Russia and Ukraine has a similarly poor wheat harvest. India battles with low monsoon rains. Italy, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and lots of other places have similar problems. This, combined with the unscrupulous speculation on food on the financial markets will contribute to very high food prices come 2013.


Graph from this study

What countries in particular are in the risk zone? Well, as it relates to food there are two factors in particular:

  • The amount of money spent on food per household, as shown here. Risings in price will affect them more, especially since they already buy the cheapest possible food.
  • Net food importers. Food exporters can shield themselves by stopping exports, while importers are at the mercy of the global market.

This change in climate has more consequences besides food alone, of course. The hare-brained scheme of corn-to-ethanol will ensure ethanol prices rise, and other types of energy, such as shale oil, has been affected by the scarcity of water. It probably will have other, more indirect effects, which I don’t know much about. In any case, 2013 will be one hell of a year.

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