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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…)

Kazakhstan: Wheat, Climate and Global Stability

Kazakhstan is huge, and hugely important on the international scene, yet we rarely hear about it. In terms of land mass, Kazakhstan is a massive country – the ninth largest in the world. It is also one of the largest producers of wheat, featuring in the top ten list of nations for that distinction.

It’s wheat-production capacity places it at the center of a Central Asian triumvirate that is critical for maintaining the stability of the global food market. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (and as highlighted in a recent piece on Al Jazeera), Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine alone have the capacity to meet “half of the world’s grain export needs.” (more…)

Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest

This article was also posted on AlertNet

by Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

Syria’s current social unrest is, in the most direct sense, a reaction to a brutal and out-of-touch regime and a response to the political wave of change that began in Tunisia early last year. However, that’s not the whole story. The past few years have seen a number of significant social, economic, environmental and climatic changes in Syria that have eroded the social contract between citizen and government in the country, have strengthened the case for the opposition movement, and irreparably damaged the legitimacy of the al-Assad regime. If the international community, and future policy-makers in Syria, are to address and resolve the drivers of unrest in the country, these changes will have to be better explored and exposed. (more…)