How did Climate Change bring about the Arab Uprising?

June 19, 2011

We all hope that when the dust settles over the middle east, that permanent progress toward democracy will be realized.

It is nonetheless sobering to consider that one of the primary sparks that ignited unrest over the region was not the democratic impulse, but soaring food prices brought about by extreme climatic events.

Following the massive heat wave and drought of last summer, Russia banned the exports of grain.  Similar extremes impacted crops in other leading producers, including Australia and Argentina. The results were a spike in food prices globally, that brought home for the first time how the ripple effects of climate change can destabilize economies, governments, and even whole regions.


The effects of current extremes in the US grain belt may not be known for months, but the whiplash China has experienced this spring, going from historic drought to heavy, destructive rainfall, fits the continuing profile for this “new normal”.


More than two million people are now reported to have been affected by deadly floods in eastern China.
Torrential rain was continuing, leaving large parts of Zhejiang and Hubei provinces under water, state-run news agency Xinhua said.
It said nearly 1,000 businesses were being disrupted and crops destroyed, pushing up food prices.

The floods come after months of crop-destroying drought in the centre and north of the country.

Some areas along the Yangtze River have suffered their worst drought in half a century.
Despite the rain, officials have warned that the crop shortages and dislocation caused by drought will remain severe.

Analysts say crop shortages in China could affect prices around the world.

Many westerners still reflexively view accounts of disasters in the Asia and Africa thru an outdated lens. The problems will not
be mitigated by sending a donation to the Red Cross. China, rather than experience food shortages, will buy more food on the global
market, competing with poorer nations.

Unstable countries, like Pakistan, that once were powerless, now are nuclear armed, or could be soon.

Deniers like to say that humanity can easily “adapt” to rapid climate change – but how can a child adapt to no food?
Security experts have a saying, that even the most “advanced” countries are at any time, only “9 meals from Anarchy”.

How does a child “adapt” to no food?

And how would humanity “adapt” to a climate-triggered nuclear exchange?

8 Responses to “How did Climate Change bring about the Arab Uprising?”

  1. rpauli Says:

    The big question is: What uprising can we see unfolding next?

    Denialism is a form of crowd control.

  2. omnologos Says:

    “Buy a SUV, free an Arab country! China is next!” – are you sure that is the message you want to drive home? Shall I run the SUV on idle to support the liberation of the people of North Korea?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I think the point is that instability is not in itself a good thing, particularly since some of these states have powerful radical minorities, and Pakistan, for instance, is a nuclear power. Several other mideast states could become
      nuclear powers soon.
      Climate related crop failures and economic impacts can have ripple effects that no one can predict. that’s the message.

  3. mrsircharles Says:

    The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has produced an interesting video presentation: CGIAR Bruce Campbell talks about climate change, food security and a vision of the future

    Another organisation which is dealing with the issue is the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

    Climate change is real and there are many organisations (including the UNESCO) which are working for many years now on solutions to combat the impacts of anthropogenic global warming.

  4. otter17 Says:

    “Buy a SUV, free an Arab country! China is next!”

    Where is that in the article or references?

  5. omnologos Says:

    I agree instability isn’t a good thing but the way you framed it it does sound like it is. I remember when Monbiot complained (rightly) it made no sense to talk about dangerous climate change for England by images of orange groves. The casual UK reader would have carried home the message that Co2 emissions meant not having to travel to Spain and Portugal no more.

  6. […] Texas, and Arizona. Russia’s ban on grain exports, which caused a spike in food prices, may have ultimately brought about the Arab Spring. In Australia, climate scientists are having to deal with multiple death threats. The drought in […]

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