U.S. Drought Could Cause Global Unrest
By Brandon Keim
July 24, 2012
Twice in the last five years, rising food prices triggered global waves of social unrest. With drought baking U.S. crops, another round of soaring, society-straining price spikes may happen in coming months.
According to researchers from the New England Complex Systems Institute, commodity speculation — investors betting on food prices — will amplify the drought’s market signals, creating a new food bubble and the crises that follow.
“The drought is clearly going to kick prices up. It already has. What happens when you have speculators is that it goes through the roof,” said NECSI president Yaneer Bar-Yam. “We’ve created an unstable system. Globally, we are very vulnerable.”
The ongoing drought, the United States’ worst since the Dust Bowl, is expected to last until October and will decimate U.S. harvests. America is the world’s largest exporter of corn, wheat and soy beans; global prices for those commodities have already surged to record levels.