Source: The Scary Hidden Stressor by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, March 2, 2013.
Notes: In this essay, Thomas Friedman, points out a recent study, The Arab Spring and Climate Change. These essays make a strong case that the interaction between climate change, food prices (particularly wheat) and politics is a hidden stress trigger. Climate change was hidden trigger helping to fuel the revolutions. Even more troubling, it will continue to make stabilizing them as democracies much more difficult.
Key point: The world's top nine wheat-importers are in the Middle East: "Seven had political protests resulting in civilian deaths in 2011," said Sternberg. "Households in the countries that experience political unrest spend, on average, more than 35 percent of their income on food supplies," compared with less than 10 percent in developed countries.
Everything is linked: Chinese drought and Russian bushfires produced wheat shortages leading to higher bread prices fueling protests in Tahrir Square.
Friedman then writes, "Scientists like to say that, when it comes to climate change, we need to manage what is unavoidable and avoid what is unmanageable. That requires collective action globally to mitigate as much climate change as we can and the building of resilient states locally to adapt to what we can't mitigate."
The scary part, according to Sarah Johnstone and Jeffrey Mazo of the International Institute for Strategic Studies conclude in their essay, "fledgling (Middle East) democracies with weak institutions might find it even harder to deal with the root problems (of climate change) than the regimes they replace, and they may be more vulnerable to further unrest as a result."
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