The Economic Collapse Blog – January 17, 2011
The stunningly violent food riots in Tunisia and Algeria show just how quickly things can change. Just a few months ago, these two northern Africa nations were considered to be very stable, very peaceful and without any major problems. But now protesters are openly squaring off with police in the streets. Many of the protesters are throwing “fire bombs” or are shooting fireworks at the authorities, and the police are responding with a tremendous amount of violence themselves. In Algeria, several protesters have been killed by police and several others have actually set themselves on fire to protest the economic conditions. In Tunisia, more than 100 people have been killed and the president of that country actually had to flee for his life. But on a global scale, food shortages have not even gotten that bad yet. Yes, food prices are starting to go up and food supplies are a little bit tighter right now, but much worse times than these are coming. So what in the world are the cities of the world going to look like when we have a very serious food shortage?
Just as we saw during the food riots of 2008, when people get to the point where they can’t even feed themselves anymore, they tend to lose it. In the video posted below, you can really feel the desperation of these young Algerians as they riot in the streets….
This next video is of the food riots in Tunisia. You will not want to let any young children watch this video. In fact, if watching police beat and smash protesters laying on the ground upsets you, then you might not want to watch this video either. The massive food riots that have erupted in Tunisia have left many city streets looking like war zones and at this point it is being reported that the violence has left over 100 people dead. The president of Tunisia has left the country because of the rioting, and an interim president has been sworn in. It is hoped that this will help restore order. This video is absolutely stunning….
You see, the truth is that it is not just in the United States that people are becoming angry at government. All over the world, frustration is boiling over. But unlike the United States, where food is still very plentiful, in many areas of the world it is the deteriorating economic conditions that are sparking many of these riots.
According to the FAO, the global price of food hit a new record high in December. For most Americans and Europeans, a rise in the price of food is just an inconvenience. But in many areas of the world, even a relatively small rise in the price of food can mean that the survival of millions is suddenly threatened.
Global authorities are concerned that these food riots might start spreading – especially if the extremely harsh weather all over the globe continues to damage crops.
In fact, there are some signs that economic unrest is already beginning to spread….
*In the nation of Jordan, peaceful demonstrations were held in several locations around the country on Friday to protest rising food prices.
*In Libya, protests about the late completion of government subsidized housing entered their third day on Sunday. Reportedly, hundreds of uncompleted units have been taken over by protesters and so far the police are not taking action to evict them. There is also growing concern that the food riots in neighboring Tunisia will soon pour over into Libya.
*Economic protests also been reported recently in Mozambique, Morocco and Chile.
Sadly, the desperate economic conditions that are sparking these food riots did not develop overnight. Rather, they have been building for decades. The truth is that the new “global economy” is designed to funnel more and more of the wealth of the world into the hands of the wealthiest 0.001% of the global population. Everyone else is left to fight with one another to divide up a pie that is increasingly shrinking.
Just consider the following five facts….
#1 Approximately 1 billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry every single night.
#2 Approximately 28 percent of all children in developing countries are considered to be underweight or have had their growth stunted as a result of malnutrition.
#3 Every 3.6 seconds someone starves to death and three-quarters of them are children under the age of 5.
#4 “Least developed countries” spent 9 billion dollars on food imports in 2002. By 2008, that number had risen to 23 billion dollars.
#5 A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the world population owns approximately 1 percent of all global wealth.
So if things are this bad already, what kind of food riots are we going to see if all of this weird weather continues and global harvests are much lower than anticipated in 2011?
Most Americans have a really hard time even imagining such a thing, but the truth is that we are just one really bad harvest away from mass starvation in many areas of the world.
We are not going to see mass starvation in the United States in 2011, but we could see food prices start to go up significantly. Keep in mind that more than 43 million Americans are already on food stamps. The incredible abundance of food that we have been enjoying for so many decades is not guaranteed to last indefinitely.
Dennis Conley, an agricultural economist at the University of Nebraska, recently told MSNBC that food reserves in the United States are already disturbingly low….
“I haven’t seen numbers this low that I can remember in the last 20 or 30 years.”
So yes, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned.
The world really is on the verge of a major food crisis, and if global harvests are not significantly better than most analysts are currently projecting, then we are likely to see a lot more food riots around the globe before 2011 is over.