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Climate Change in Russia and the Weaponization of Wheat

Russialsta_tmo_2010208_lrgBy Leah Emanuel

As temperatures in the Russian Arctic rapidly increase and permafrost continues to melt, Russian land feasible for wheat production is beginning to grow. In a new op-ed published in The National Interest, the Hon. Sherri Goodman, Chair of the Board of the Council on Strategic Risks, and Clara Summers of American University’s School of International Service, assess the possibility of Russia weaponizing their wheat.

While wheat makes up only 2.3% of Russia’s total exports, this small percentage constitutes a major portion of the global wheat export market. “Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter,” Goodman and Summers write, “and is expected to control 20 percent of grain export markets by 2028.” Land changes due to climate change will only expand this global power. According to the authors, it is likely that Russia’s wheat-suitable land will expand by 4.3 million km² in boreal regions,, and the government has already announced that it intends to take advantage of these impacts of climate change for its agricultural and economic benefit. (more…)

Climate Change in the 2015 World Wide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community

James_R._Clapper_official_portraitOn February 26, 2015, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented the World Wide Threat Assessment for the US Intelligence Community Statement for the Record to the Senate Armed Services Committee. A significant portion of the assessment highlighted risks associated with the impact of climate-exacerbated extreme weather events on global food and water security (see below for those excerpts). The assessment also looked at how climate change is a factor in increasing human security risks related to infectious diseases. (more…)

New Research: Food Riots, Governance and Climate Change

Protesters marching in Cairo, "Bread, Freedom, Social Justice By, Mariam Soliman from Cairo, Egypt

Protesters marching in Cairo, “Bread, Freedom, Social Justice By, Mariam Soliman from Cairo, Egypt

This is a cross-post from New Security Beat by Cullen Hendrix

*We draw special attention to the conclusion of the article (emphasis added):

Our research suggests that reducing urban biases, like food subsidies, may be good pro-poor policy, given the continued concentration of poverty in the countryside, but it carries political risks. Thus, developing country governments face a tradeoff in pursuing two separate but linked definitions of food security: food security as a component of human security, where pro-poor policies may be the best answer, and food security as a component of national security, where urban interests seem the most pressing.

(more…)

New Research: Local Food Price Spikes Increase Likelihood of Unrest

 

Protesters marching in Cairo, "Bread, Freedom, Social Justice By, Mariam Soliman from Cairo, Egypt

Protesters marching in Cairo, “Bread, Freedom, Social Justice By, Mariam Soliman from Cairo, Egypt

This is a cross-post by Todd G. Smith via New Security Beat (see the original post for some great questions in the comments section).

From the Roman poet Juvenal’s observations about bread and circuses to Marie Antoinette’s proclamation, “let them eat cake!” the link between food and political stability is well established in pop culture. In academic and policy circles, however, it’s a source of considerable debate.

Since 2008, when the FAO Food Price Index spiked to previously unseen levels, reports of so-called “food riots” have become common. In 2011, researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) released a short paper presenting a compelling correlation between spikes in the FAO Food Price Index in 2008 (and again in 2011) and media reports of food riots across the Middle East and North Africa. (more…)

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