The Egyptian Crisis’ Green Roots

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Whenever people rise up in mass to try to oust their rulers, there is often a predictable set of circumstances at the source of the rebellion. One of the most common causes of societal discontent, the very factor that led to the ongoing Egyptian protests, is hunger. Unfortunately, worldwide global warming fanaticism has only contributed to this plight. By consuming ever-expansive portions of the world food supply for the production of green bio-fuels, the left has increased the cost of food for those who can least afford it. This has caused much undue suffering for the world’s poor and significantly exacerbated Third World instability — and Egypt is no exception.

The left has never understood the idea that always putting a little aside in the expectation of a rainy day might be a good thing to do. That fact is obvious when it comes to money, but perhaps less so when it comes to necessities like food. As the world’s food crisis has grown over the past decade, it occurred to me that leftist policy makers would have been exceedingly easy to beat in the 1980s computer game entitled “Santa Paravia and Fiumaccio.” For those readers too young to remember it, the game was a simple economic/political simulation set in Renaissance times. As the leader of a city-state, one of your primary responsibilities was to ensure that the people always had enough grain to feed the masses. So, if you intended to win, you always put enough grain aside in storage to hedge against a bad harvest or excessive spoilage. Because, once the people started getting hungry, revolt was sure to follow.

Today, we’re seeing that effect in Egypt and we’re going to see more of it throughout the world unless we can fix the growing worldwide food crisis. We’ve been skating on thin ice, in terms of food supply, for more than a decade now. Between 2000 and 2010, the World Food Price Index, the inflation-adjusted measure of how expensive food is across the globe, almost doubled. In 2000 the index sat at a value of 90. By 2010, the index had risen to a value of 172. That’s a 91% increase in the cost of food over the course of a decade. Even before a devastating earthquake rocked their capital, poor Haitians were reduced to eating mud pies – literally – because they could not afford real food. A heartbreaking 2008 story that appeared in National Geographic documents the situation in Haiti.

Sad as it is to say, the poor of Haiti are so used to living in conditions of extreme poverty that they don’t have the spirit or energy to rebel against the ruling class of their nation. Not so in Egypt, which – by Middle Eastern standards anyway – has been a relatively well-to-do country. Last year, droughts in Russia and the Ukraine, combined with reduced harvests in the United States, Canada and Australia, sent already unnaturally high food prices soaring. If there was simmering discontent over the Mubarak regime, then this particular straw – one that hits so close to home for so many people – was more than enough to break the rebellious camel’s back. It’s one thing to be led by an octogenarian who has been in power for thirty years and who is too closely associated with the “Great Satan” for Islamic comfort. It’s quite another thing to endure such humiliations while one’s own stomach is growling and one’s children are going hungry as well.

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  • sflbib

    The world is becoming one big "Animal Farm".

  • StephenD

    Excellent post Mr. Trzupek. Being the cynic that I am I can't help but wonder if in fact that those that "bet the farm" as you say on this proposition have hedged their bets and are somehow in a position to make money out of this crisis anyway. I'm thinking of the "carbon credit" scam. How long before they own outright the land that produces the food and then the prices really go up since such land would be so drastically reduced. IT seems that he who has the water, fuel and food makes the rules, yes?

  • Dan

    What is not mentioned here is that reducing the population can help the food problem. In Syria, Assad has worked to raise the age of marriage, and Syrians earn more than Egyptians per capita. Left and right labels are irrelevant here. It was under Bush that the corn subsidies went crazy. I agree that government should not subsidize this (nor give millions to people "not to farm." Many people involved with alternative energy do not agree with ethanol as a solution, this idea of avoiding using land negatively to grow biofuel has been brought into consideration in Europe. Politicizing the alternative energy issue is self-serving and short-sighted. There are conservatives and Christians who are beginning to be more involved in the issue of alternative energy. There are many poor people who have suffered under the current system of food production, see suicides of Indian farmers etc. In southern African people could start to use the native millet instead of corn, it is more nutritious and easier to grow, it just needs a marketing campaign to change colonial-induced habits (I am from there, in case you want to say I am leftist and don't know anything). This subject is too big to be treated here, but Mr. Trupek does not really cover so many important aspects. I feel that he is just trying to make political points using the issues and statistics he quotes, which is shallow.