Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Middle East riots for food, interventions for oil?

It's a historical truth that when food prices rise, conflict increases. So it's no wonder that the spike in the cost of agricultural commodities in recent months has been a contributing factor to revolution in the Middle East. As the map below shows, people in relatively poor countries--including Egypt, Tunisia and others in the developing world--spend a much higher percentage of their incomes on food.
© 2011 Time Inc. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture. The percentage of household consumption expenditures going to food is one indicator of riot prone countries.
"We're in Libya because of oil. And I think both Japan and the nuclear technology and Libya and this dependence that we have upon imported oil have both once again highlighted the need for the United States to have a renewable energy agenda going forward. [The US is right to intervene] but it all goes back to the 5 million barrels of oil that we import from (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) on a daily basis."
- Ed Markey, Democrat.

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