This is from the NECSI Website "The New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) is an independent academic research and educational institution with students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty. In addition to the in-house research team, NECSI has co-faculty, students and affiliates from MIT, Harvard, Brandeis and other universities nationally and internationally.
NECSI has been instrumental in the development of complex systems science and its applications. We study how interactions within a system lead to its behavioral patterns, and how the system interacts with its environment. Our new tools overcome the limitations of classical approximations for the scientific study of complex systems, such as social organizations, biological organisms and ecological communities. NECSI's unified mathematically-based approach transcends the boundaries of physical, biological and social sciences, as well as engineering, management, and medicine." I have been writing here about complex systems and am often astonished by the comments posted. Read on below to get the report on this predicted crisis.
This is a sobering report:
Social unrest may reflect a variety of factors such as poverty, unemployment, and social injustice. Despite the many possible contributing factors, the timing of violent protests in North Africa and the Middle East in 2011 as well as earlier riots in 2008 coincides with large peaks in global food prices. We identify a specific food price threshold above which protests become likely. These observations suggest that protests may reflect not only long-standing political failings of governments, but also the sudden desperate straits of vulnerable populations. If food prices remain high, there is likely to be persistent and increasing global social disruption. Underlying the food price peaks we also find an ongoing trend of increasing prices. We extrapolate these trends and identify a crossing point to the domain of high impacts, even without price peaks, in 2012-2013. This implies that avoiding global food crises and associated social unrest requires rapid and concerted action.. Such reports are so easily dismissed by the people who have the largest chance of changing things for the better. Science has become a tool for increased growth through technology, but when it sounds warnings it suddenly looses credibility. That is why reductionist science is the only science the system really finds worth calling science. Yet the studies reported here are as scientific as any out there:
(CAMBRIDGE, MA) -- A new study shows that the timing of outbreaks of violence rocking North Africa and the Middle East is linked to global food prices.The United States is in a very precarious position relative to such predictions. Our capacity to police the world has become diminished by recent adventures such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The social structure here is being torn asunder as a result. It is hard to imagine where this will all end up.
Today's headlines explode with stories of failed political systems, harsh regimes, and denial of rights underlying riots and warfare. The authors, however, point to rising food prices as a key factor too--not only in assessing the aftermath but in predicting future times of unrest.
The study, titled "The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East," is by Marco Lagi, Karla Bertrand and Yaneer-Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute.
Using detailed charts showing data from the FAO Food Price Index and the timing of the riots, the authors were able to demonstrate how food prices have a direct link to the tipping points of unrest and upheaval.
The authors also criticize the deregulation of commodities markets in the US as contibuting to the rise in food prices.
The authors issued a stern warning that if food prices remain high, disturbances will continue. Averting further crises this year and next requires quick and concerted action by policy makers, they added.
"Our predictions are conditional on the circumstances, and thus allow for policy interventions to change them. Whether policy makers will act depends on the various pressures that are applied to them, including both the public and special interests," said Prof. Bar-Yam.
As a person who studies complex systems, I find it tempting to speculate that the system itself has its own ways of correcting what humans fail to deal with. Unfortunately, those systemic correction are likely to be disastrous for humans. Maybe it is the system's antibody to a infectious insult? Wild speculation, no more. Yet it makes sense to me.