The United States is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans and corn. For much of 2012, the Midwest region of the United States experienced one of the worst droughts it has seen in recent history. Some estimates state that as much as 80% of the corn crops have been affected by the dryspell. What impact will this have on the world in 2013?
The world population grew by over 75 million people this year; meaning that there are more mouths to feed every day. When combining this with the extreme damage that has happened to a major player in the global food chain, it does not take an economist to recognize what is inevitably going to occur. A surge in global food prices is underway. In developed nations like the United States, many people would likely not even notice the difference. It may result in a price increase of fifty cents or a dollar on certain items at the grocery store. In other places around the globe, there is a much more serious situation that is about to unfold.
Here is a graph that displays the Food Price Index over the past few years:
The vertical lines represent incidents of social unrest. As you can see, there is a direct correlation between the large spikes in food prices in 2008 and 2011, and people rioting. In many impoverished nations around the globe, a large percentage of each family’s salary barely covers the basic necessities to survive. A dollar increase in the price of food items is a devastating blow to billions of people worldwide, since 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day.
Families that were just treading water to stay afloat are now going to have to really operate on overdrive. At first, it may include skipping meals. If that isn’t enough, the next step is to pull children out of school to work; damaging their education, their future, and increasing the likelihood that poverty will perpetuate into the next generation. For some families, this still will not be enough. Some will fall sick. Some will lose their jobs. This is where things get harsh.
Put yourself in their shoes. You can’t find a job. You can’t afford food. Your children have nothing to eat. What will you do now? A family without food is an angry family that has very little to lose.
These ingredients typically lead to massive protests, riots, and the overthrowing of governments; as we saw during the events of the Arab Spring that are still unfolding today. As food prices reach new heights in 2013, we can expect ripples of unrest to spread in shockwaves.
(Note: The United States currently diverts 40% of its corn crops away from potential dinner plates to produce ethanol for motor vehicles, exacerbating this problem significantly.)
Project Free World has been anticipating the start of these events for some time now. We have been working around the clock to add revolutionary new features to the current beta site that will make it easier than ever for the citizens of the world to find and help one another.
At this time, you can visit our Act page to discover some of the most innovative existing organizations that we believe are doing an amazing job of alleviating major global issues through the realm of social entrepreneurship. You can also visit our Facebook or Twitter pages (use #projectfreeworld) to connect and collaborate with others to take action and start solving these problems.