We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say
Black dots are the food prices, red lines are the riots. In other words, whenever the UN’s food price index, which measures the monthly change in the price of a basket of food commodities, climbs above 210, the conditions ripen for social unrest around the world. CSI doesn’t claim that any breach of 210 immediately leads to riots, obviously; just that the probability that riots will erupt grows much greater. For billions of people around the world, food comprises up to 80% of routine expenses (for rich-world people like you and I, it’s like 15%). When prices jump, people can’t afford anything else; or even food itself. And if you can’t eat—or worse, your family can’t eat—you fight.
The geopolitical cynic in me says this is how to manipulate the situation in the middle east (hell maybe we already are): hold back grain until they start installing compliant governments which respect their peoples. We could probably pass through the 'religious fanatic' phase of Arab societal evolution and onto something which resembles an islamic version of Christian Democracy fairly quickly.
On the other hand, worldwide drought this year is already affecting food prices, and next year is supposed to be hotter and drier than this year, so it's plausible that things could get really bad.
The irony here is that many of the peoples most affected by drought and the price fluctuations which are ensuing, are mortal enemies with the people doing most of the interesting things with desalination technologies these days, Israel.
Perhaps this could bring them together?