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Complex Systems Theorists Predict We're About One Year From Global Food Riots 926

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wait-for-the-sisko-riots-of-2024 dept.
pigrabbitbear writes with conjecture on what triggers global unrest. Quoting the article: "In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they did. The number one determinant was soaring food prices. Their model identified a precise threshold for global food prices that, if breached, would lead to worldwide unrest."
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Complex Systems Theorists Predict We're About One Year From Global Food Riots

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  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:44PM (#41294483)
    Means we can buy their cities for half price. Engage the diplomat unis!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:45PM (#41294487)

    No man is more than three square meals away from revolution.

  • Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:46PM (#41294495)

    Malthus? Is that you?

    • by LehiNephi (695428) on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:50PM (#41294513) Journal
      Malthus, perhaps. Hari Seldon, probably not.
    • by Maltheus (248271)

      No, for the last time, it's Matheus with an 'e'!

    • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:37PM (#41294883)

      Eventually bad shit will happen. Eventually, someone might actually get a model that accurately predicts it. Dismissing this new research because someone years ago made the same predictions with simpler, inaccurate models is not a logically sound basis to dismiss new research. If there is something amiss with the new research, dismiss it on those grounds. That is skepticism. Dismissing based on the fact Malthus was wrong* is not sound.

      *Malthus was only wrong about missing the Green Revolution. However, the amount of food extractable from any given acre cannot continue to increase forever. There is still an upper limit ahead.

      • Re:Catastrophe (Score:4, Insightful)

        by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:21PM (#41295263)

        Eventually bad shit will happen. Eventually, someone might actually get a model that accurately predicts it.

        Except once knowledge of the accurate model is wide spread it will change the outcome events, in sort of a societal uncertainty principle.

        • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rrohbeck (944847) on Monday September 10, 2012 @11:41PM (#41296103)

          Except once knowledge of the accurate model is wide spread it will change the outcome events, in sort of a societal uncertainty principle.

          Only if you can do anything about it.
          What can you do about global warming and peak oil, at least in the short term?

          • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:43AM (#41296883)
            'What can you do' and 'what will people do?' are very different matters. There are plenty of things that can be done, but most aren't politically viable because they would require large numbers of people to make sacrifices they are unwilling to make - like paying more for goods, or using the bus in preference to their own car.
          • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

            by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:53AM (#41297129)

            What can you do about global warming and peak oil, at least in the short term?

            WTF, Insightful?
            Is it a rhetorical question, and are you really implying that we cannot do anything about global warming & peak oil in the short term?

            On the top of my head, here are some stuff you could start *today* :
            * turn your air conditioning off, or choose an higher set temperature
            * eat less meat
            * buy local and seasonal food
            * take the bus, tram or bike to commute. If you have to take the car, bring a colleague with you
            * don't buy any gadget that you would stop using after a few days/weeks
            * don't plan to take the plane for your next holidays
            * generally try to use less energy that your neighbor
            * spread the word

            There you go!

            • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

              by rrohbeck (944847) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:28AM (#41297257)

              ROFL. How much energy is that going to save, and how will it compare to the rise in energy consumption in Chindia and other developing countries?
              FWIW, I gave up the car some time ago, haven't flown in years and am an almost-vegetarian but I don't think that's going to change anything. I have moved from being a climate change and peak oil activist to the doomer camp. I like to be out in front :)

            • Re:Catastrophe (Score:4, Interesting)

              by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:51AM (#41298001)

              Everything you suggested will just reduce prices, inducing someone else to use those resources. You either need to force everyone on board (everyone in the world) or your solution is not effective. Your solutions make you feel good, and that might be enough reason to do them. Your intentions are noble, and that is to be commended. But if one locust in a hoard doesn't eat the grain in the field, the field will still get devoured.

      • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:42PM (#41295395)

        Eventually bad shit will happen. Eventually, someone might actually get a model that accurately predicts it. Dismissing this new research because someone years ago made the same predictions with simpler, inaccurate models is not a logically sound basis to dismiss new research. If there is something amiss with the new research, dismiss it on those grounds. That is skepticism. Dismissing based on the fact Malthus was wrong* is not sound.

        *Malthus was only wrong about missing the Green Revolution. However, the amount of food extractable from any given acre cannot continue to increase forever. There is still an upper limit ahead.

        Per acre, sure. However, there may not be a limit on the number of possible acres. It's quite possible to literally create new farmland using hydroponics and similar systems (layered greenhouses and the like). The upper limit is in energy (we can use sunlight for quite some time yet with good optics) and raw materials. Interestingly, one of those raw materials is CO2, which serves as a nice potential solution for one of our other problems as well.

        Possible now? Maybe not, but if there is one thing everyone should learn from history, it's that humans tend to make the currently impossible possible given the right incentive. And starvation is one hell of a motivator.

        • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Interesting)

          by HairyNevus (992803) <hairynevus@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:16PM (#41295599)

          It is possible now, in fact the world creates enough Calories to feed the current population--starvation is a distribution problem. Thanks to Norman Borlaug, we now have corn that creates Vitamin A and 100% of your essential amino acids, and that was years ago. A worldwide team of crop experts has been crossing rice strains to make a type that is highly suited for a hydroponics environment as a way of dealing with the issue of available cropland in Asia. Overall, every staple grain has seen a trend in the last two decades of higher-yield and less maintenance.

          You can focus on hype, people waving predictions in your face about potential worst-case scenarios, but those who study "The World Food Problem" know there's equal parts messages of caution and hope.

        • Re:Catastrophe (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jookey (604878) <Jookey16@hotmail.com> on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:36PM (#41295715)

          And starvation is one hell of a motivator.

          Unfortunately starvation is not a motivator for the people who most influence the global economic system. Profit is the motivator.

      • Re:Catastrophe (Score:4, Insightful)

        by meta-monkey (321000) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:43PM (#41295401) Journal
        Especially if people keep supporting inefficient land usage, such as ethanol production and "organic" farming.
    • I was thinking they sounded more like the Club Of Rome myself.

  • Still Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lgw (121541) on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:47PM (#41294497) Journal

    "Experts" have been incorrectly predicting that vast swaths of humanity would startve to death at least since Malthus. How can claims like this still be taken seriously?

    Perhaps I could buy the claim that "food riots will happen, despit no lack of food"; after all, we do as a species love to protest. We produce enough food to feed everyone as the populaiton grows while less land is needed for farming every decade. The WHO warns about similar numbers of people facing obesity problems as they do starvation problems. Yes, there will always be governments that withhold food as a weapon against their own citizens, but beyond that any claim of a food shortage just seems silly.

    • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmazingRuss (555076) on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:51PM (#41294519)

      Not a lack of food. A lack of cheap food. When you spend a large percentage of your income on food, it matters more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        My current net worth is about $600,000 and I have this [yearfoodsupply.com] in my basement. I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry.
        • by Shavano (2541114) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:04PM (#41295115)

          My current net worth is about $600,000 and I have this [yearfoodsupply.com] in my basement. I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry.

          Yes you do. Now we know we can raid your basement for food.

          • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hawguy (1600213) on Monday September 10, 2012 @11:42PM (#41296113)

            My current net worth is about $600,000 and I have this [yearfoodsupply.com] in my basement. I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry.

            Yes you do. Now we know we can raid your basement for food.

            I'm not sure why this was modded as funny because it's true.

            The problem with being more prepared than your neighbors for a disaster is that when they get hungry and notice that you and your family are not, then they'll be busting down your door to take your food. No matter how well armed you are, if you have something worth stealing, there will always be someone better armed than you and enough desperate people with nothing left to lose to overwhelm your defenses.

            • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

              by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @01:19AM (#41296611) Journal

              The solution to these problems is to pit them against one another.

              Simply cultivate a quantity of desperate people with nothing to lose who are willing to shoot pesky trespassers in exchange for a small cut of your food. Getting the implementation just right can be tricky, but this(along with appeals to the authority of the invisible friends of the powers that be) has been a fundamental part of human civilization for pretty much all of human history...

    • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SlowGenius (231663) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:02PM (#41294603) Homepage
      Last I knew, those "experts" were pretty much on target -- vast swathes of humanity have been starving to death since there were vast swathes of humanity. Malthus totally got it right except for two developments he couldn't foresee. The first (the Green Revolution) is only a temporary fix-- all it ultimately did was to increase the carrying capacity of the planet, not to change the basics of Malthusian economics. The second factor (effective birth control) is the only reason you can remain ignorant enough to call Malthus wrong.
      • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordLucless (582312) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:35PM (#41294871)

        Last I knew, those "experts" were pretty much on target -- vast swathes of humanity have been starving to death since there were vast swathes of humanity.

        Which makes such a prediction pretty useless. What those experts are predicting is a massive uptick in starvation rates. And yes, they have been consistently wrong. In modern times, there has never been a global, sustained, starvation die-off in the vein of a Malthusian Catastrophe.

        Malthus totally got it right except for two developments he couldn't foresee.

        In other words, he got it wrong.

        The second factor (effective birth control) is the only reason you can remain ignorant enough to call Malthus wrong.

        It's more than just birth control; it's a whole slew of factors that contribute to demographic transition [wikipedia.org]. And yes, it's the primary reason Malthus was wrong. One of his fundamental assumptions was:

        "That population does invariably increase when the means of subsistence increase"

        Demographic transition has demonstrated that this is false. Human population growth is not limited solely by the availability of subsistence; it self-limits given the presence of other factors that tend to occur as prosperity increases.

    • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kergan (780543) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:28PM (#41294823)

      "Experts" have been incorrectly predicting that vast swaths of humanity would startve to death at least since Malthus. How can claims like this still be taken seriously?

      Because they're not claiming sensationalistic Malthusian version of "we're doomed, there are too many people" and instead merely pointing out that people revolt when they don't make enough to feed their family.

      The WHO warns about similar numbers of people facing obesity problems as they do starvation problems.

      That's an entirely different topic. Obesity is above all related to sugar consumption -- or more specifically, fructose consumption -- if recent developments in nutrition are anything to go by. If we distribute snack bars, sweet water and fruit juice in Japan, China or Africa, we'll start seeing rampant obesity there too. Make that since we do, actually.

      Yes, there will always be governments that withhold food as a weapon against their own citizens, but beyond that any claim of a food shortage just seems silly.

      You've the wrong culprit there.

      Even accounting for the occasional drought such as this year in the US, we indeed currently produce more that enough food to feed everyone on the planet and more. The primary withholders of food, however, are the major food exporters. Chief among them, the USA and the EU, so as to keep food prices high enough to sustain farmers -- which makes sense, when you scratch the surface, since the last thing you want in case of total war is to depend on food imports.

      At any rate, and contrary to what you're suggesting, no government in its right mind willfully withholds food from its population. Food shortage is the surest path to revolts and uprising. Because when you've nothing to lose, you basically lose it.

      • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:49PM (#41294997)
        At any rate, and contrary to what you're suggesting, no government in its right mind willfully withholds food from its population. Food shortage is the surest path to revolts and uprising. Because when you've nothing to lose, you basically lose it.

        You are talking about removing food, as opposed to continued denial of food. African warlords know that if the people have enough energy to stand, they will oppose the warlord, so he makes sure that the people starve. International aid is seized and resold on the black market. It gets the warlord income and helps keep control.

        What do you do when you have nothing to lose, but so little caloric intake that you can't even lift your own head?

    • Re:Still Wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy (197597) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:29PM (#41295315)

      In fact, every major famine in the 20th Century was caused NOT by major crop failures, but by deliberate political policy or the effects of war.

      Famous examples of this include the forced collectivization of farms in the Ukraine between 1928 and 1933, the time of the warlords in China during the 1920's and 1930's when fighting disrupted food supply, the effects of the the invasion of China by Japan (which also disrupted food supply), the "Great Leap Forward" in China that seriously affected food production, and the political policies of dictators in Africa during the second half of the 20th Century.

  • Extrapolation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:49PM (#41294509)

    In a 2011 paper ... explained why ... in 2008 and 2011

    It's easy to make a model that correctly accounts for the past. Before I read the article, I was hoping that it was a model they created earlier, and just released last year. It wasn't. From the article:

    We extrapolate these trends and identify a crossing point ... in 2012-2013

    • No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:12PM (#41294671)

      People seem to forget models don't prove SHIT. Models model. So they are only as useful as their predictive ability. However you can't know that until you've released a model, and see what happens. If your model repeatedly makes correct predictions (and fails to make incorrect ones) then you can say it is a good model.

      It doesn't mean shit if everything is historical. Yes, yes, you tweaked it until it modeled history accurately. Of course, that's a good first step. However that could just mean you made a model that generates a line in the right shape, rather than actually models anything useful. You have to wait and see how it does at predicting reality before you go and claim it is useful.

      This also seems like a good case of "correlation isn't causation." So there's a correlation. Great, that means fuck-all. Another explanation for a bunch of riots would be things like the Arab Spring concept in that people see their neighbors rise up against their oppressors and say "Hey, we should do that too!"

    • Re:Extrapolation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Logic and Reason (952833) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:06PM (#41295133) Homepage
      Exactly right. Any idiot can make a model that fits past data, but these models all mysteriously disappear when their predictive power is put to the test (only to be replaced by newer, "better" models that simply reflect more recent events).

      The fact that these guys released their model before it had a chance to predict anything doesn't inspire confidence.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This will flop miserably, and nobody will hear of it again.

      I recall the year after Katrina (and 3 other hurricanes that year) where "experts" predicted that year would also have many severe hurricanes. It was a mild year.

      These "experts" have not heard of things like regression to the mean. The unusual result is not the standard, even in the presence of a slowly shifting standard.

      I hope nobody remembers those clowns, either.

  • by GrpA (691294) on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:51PM (#41294523)

    That the contemporary "Zombie" as portrayed in movies, at the receiving end of a chainsaw or shotgun, looks and acts very much like a hungry person would?

    Sometimes I wonder if that's just a co-incidence or by design... After all, there's not much difference between a starving person calling out "Brains" and "Grains" is there?

    And when I do wonder that, I really, really hope it's by co-incidence.

    GrpA

  • Article vs. paper (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomhath (637240) on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:59PM (#41294571)
    The linked motherboard essay places most of the blame on global warming, but the 2011 paper concludes:

    While there have been several suggested origins of the food price increases, we find the dominant ones to be investor speculation and ethanol production.

    I'm more inclined to believe the latter, because there was never a shortage of grain - just high prices. The US wasted millions of tons of grain making ethanol in a misguided attempt to not burn fossil fuel.

    • by Ichijo (607641) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:52PM (#41295017) Homepage Journal

      The US wasted millions of tons of grain making ethanol in a misguided attempt to not burn fossil fuel.

      It's misguided because the farmland used to produce that grain could have produced food for human consumption, correct?

      Does your argument apply to any scarce resource diverted from food production, including the petroleum that could have been used to power tractors and other farm equipment but we instead put into our automobiles?

      What about farmland used directly or indirectly for meat production, a very inefficient way to produce food for humans?

  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:12PM (#41294667)
    I thought these civilization-collapse nuts were fixated on December 21. There's not going to *be* a next year, right?! If most think tanks watched a puppy growing for the first month of its life, they would conclude that one year from now it will be 300-foot-tall monster trashing downtown Tokyo.
  • by IonOtter (629215) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:12PM (#41294669) Homepage

    The next time you're driving to work, take a glance to your left.

    That 30' wide median strip? You know, the one they pay some public works teams to spend an entire week mowing several times a season? Yeah. Fully exposed to sunlight, easy access, on a major transportation route.

    Now, granted, you're not going to want to grow food veggies in the median of a major interstate? Too much toxins from the exhaust and worse. But now that we've got the idea in your heads, take a look at the medians in your local town. Definitely not as much traffic, but sometimes just as wide, covered in very thirsty, very costly grass and/or other landscape plants, and 100% under-utilized.

    So. When it looks like the global food riots are going to start, show up at your local council/zoning board and say, "Here's what's going on, here's what we're going to do about it. We will be growing food. We will take care of all maintenance and upkeep, and save the town (insert 5-6 figure amount) of dollars per year. If you interfere, we will sue you into oblivion. If you try to arrest us, we'll keep coming in until we're all incarcerated. Then YOU will have to pay for feeding us."

    • by BlueStrat (756137)

      If you try to arrest us, we'll keep coming in until we're all incarcerated. Then YOU will have to pay for feeding us."

      "Arrest" you? "Incarcerate" you? "Feed" you?

      Your naivete is charming.

      Perhaps you missed all the recent news items about all those government agencies that are stocking-up on huge quantities of ammunition? They know what's coming. Hell, they're helping it along.

      No, they'll just shoot all of you and then bury you and your friends in an unmarked mass grave.

      Strat

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:00PM (#41295087)

    I don't think they're wrong. I own about 500 acres of farmland that I rent out and this is something I've been watching the past couple years and something that a lot of the ag people have been warning about is the fact even the United States as of right now has less than a 90 day carry over (seems like I read something the other day that the supply had now dropped to something like 60 days). The carry over was 18 months in the 1950's. Frankly I find that a little scary.

    That means that if there is a major disruption somewhere in the supply chain(oil supplies disrupted), another summer or two like this past one, or some major event like a large volcanic eruption on the scale of Krakatoa with global weather impact and the United States is 3 months away from having no food. This isn't the price becomes too high for people to afford, this is literally THERE IS NO FOOD. The physical supply doesn't exist. And that's kind of scary.

    Let's just take this past summer. The United States produces roughly 40% of the world's corn. We'll be lucky to produce half that due to the weather this summer. That means globally about 20% of the global supply of corn this year is gone, it doesn't exist this year. Furthermore drought in Russia, Europe, and Australia means they aren't having bumper crops to offset that loss.

    Short term that means people will likely turn to rice to replace corn as their staple. Rice prices aren't much changed from a year ago. (We raise Rice and Soybeans so that's what I primarily pay attention to). Soybean prices on the other hand are the highest I've seen it in my lifetime. And I remember early in the summer the commodity traders were assuming a near perfect yield this year in the prices of corn and soybeans, et. al. and that was *before* the drought. (I know, why those idiots were assuming that in the first place is another discussion)

    What has surprised me is how little this gets reported in the main stream press. The only reason I know anything about it is the fact I own farms and read some of the ag publications so I have some idea of what is going on in that world.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:07PM (#41295145) Homepage

      In general, I agree with you. Mostly because 98% of americans cant grow their own food. But three is a small group of us that had a bumper crop this year. I have a 400 sq foot patio that I grew more produce than my family could eat. we had so many tomatoes I wasted 5 bushels on making KETCHUP. I have enough canned food from my small patio garden to last my family of 3 until feburary. If I would have tripled by garden by planting the neighbors yard, I would have not only fed my family until next summer but would have had food left over to feed the neighbors for a short while. Add in a rabbit pen and a chicken coop and I have the protien side complete, problem is the city wont allow it.

      But due to the lack of education in the 1st world countries, most people cant figure this stuff out. They will be the first to starve. The rest of us that know what we are doing simply need to eat a lot less, as fat neighbors is a dead giveaway.

      • by Grayhand (2610049) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:20PM (#41295629)
        You're trying to be funny but you were closer to the truth than you realized. I've been working on the concept of a food tower. Essentially it's a skeletal structure that would use either hydroponics or container plants or both. Ironically the plan was for a 20'X20", as in 400sgft, footprint so it'd fit in the space of a two car garage or a normal backyard. It would be a two to three story open structure made of rebar or pipe with rows of hydroponic pipe or plant containers space 32" apart vertically. Counting the ground row it would give you ten rows each 160' long or 1600' linear feet in a 20X20 space. You can also create rows across the top and by staggering the planting double the length by having inside and outside rows. Including the double rows and figuring a 120' of rows across the top you get a total of 3320'. That's just short of a quarter acre of growing space in a 20X20 area. You just need a single pump and it gravity feeds from there. If you live in an area with moderate weather you should be able to provide most of your food for a family of four in the space of a garage. Add in a 20X20 greenhouse for cooler weather and to start seedlings and you'd be in good shape for year round fresh food. It's our whole approach to food that needs to change. Check out this video for a prime example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfScfxkmWw4&feature=related [youtube.com] They are growing a million pounds of food on three acres. I did the math before I saw any of the articles and videos and I'd say it could be done on an acre. 3 to 5 acre farms could feed a 1,000 people each including most of their meat except for beef, cattle require lots of grass. A 15 to 20 acre could provide all the chicken, pork and fish as well as shrimp for a 1000 people with even some cattle and sheep. I'm talking free range field raised not factory. All the food would be organic and pesticide free. Most of the water is recycled in this type of farm and they produce their own mulch so it's a semi closed organic system. We need to rethink how food is producedto survive the next 100 years.
  • So...... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:02PM (#41295105) Homepage

    I need to start training my kids at killing other kids in archery so that we can win the games this year?

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:48PM (#41295443)
    1. Riots aren't always a bad thing when they precipitate the overthrow of autocratic regimes and create the possibility for self-rule. It remains to be seen the extent to which this is true of the "Arab Spring", but there's a distinct possibility that at least some of the affected states will see lasting and positive change.
    2. It's not necessarily a given that a warming planet will lead to food shortages. Some guys [guardian.co.uk] in the U.K. seem to think we could see yields (for some crops) increase by 50% by 2050. They could very well be wrong. Or they could be right.
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:18PM (#41295623) Homepage

    Current industrial farming practices use 10 calories of energy (mostly from petrochemicals) to produce 1 calorie of food.

    Contemporary farming techniques are heavily dependent on petrochemicals to produce fertilizer.

    Contemporary farming techniques deplete topsoil faster than it will naturally replenish.

    That said, there're a lot of dandelions and wild garlic in most yards (and more acreage in lawns in the U.S. than any single crop).

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:45PM (#41295761) Homepage Journal

    The derivatives market is worth $800,000,000,000,000.00.

    That's eight hundred trillion with a "T". It doesn't represent equity in any company, or commodity. It's not for business expansion or for building new factories or for putting new seed in the ground.

    It's $800 trillion in real money that's used on a big monopoly board by extremely wealthy individuals and corporations. Remember, this is not the stock market, it is not shares in companies or bars of gold or bushels of corn. It's part of a big game of Texas Hold 'Em where if you lose, you send the bill to the taxpayers of some country or other.

    It also happens to represent more than TEN TIMES the gross domestic products of all countries in the world. The derivatives market is worth several times that of the entire world. Possibly disruptive, no?

    More than 3 BILLION people (50% of the world population, give or take) exist on less than $2/day.

    There are about 1100 billionaires in the world and about 10 million millionaires (0.15%). About 25% of the world population is unemployed.

    There is a whole lot of research that shows replicable, reliable correlation between growing wealth and income disparity and growth in every single negative metric of human society, from disease, to violence, to mental illness and back again. Not one bit of research that shows a positive effect of growing disparity of income and wealth.

    In arguably the most prosperous of nations, the US, 40% of the population has a net worth of zero. The average person over 55 will retire with enough wealth to live for about 2.5 years. And much of the rest of the world only dreams about this kind of prosperity.

    "Food riots?" Yah think? But just remember, it's not because there's not enough wealth to go around. You come up with a solution, because I'm going back down to the bunker.

  • Wrong problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xenobyte (446878) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:43AM (#41296881)

    It's not the amount of food that's the problem (there's more than enough food for twice the wold population already), but the distribution.

    Basically the population is decreasing (save for immigration) in the areas with surplus food production and increasing in areas that's already a long way past a sustainable food production.

    So I doubt we'll see true food riots. We might see food mass migrations and we might see riots using food as an excuse, but not the hungry masses rising up.

    I have no doubt that food will be an excuse for some riots. Usually riots seems to originate with groups of habitual criminals offended that the police are doing their job, and using either stupidities committed by the police or unsubstantiated rumors to cause a widespread reaction and turn it into a full riot and thus a free for all crime spree, complete with looting, arson and massive vandalism.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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