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Author Topic: We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say  (Read 4331 times)
Severian
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September 11, 2012, 02:52:00 PM
 #1

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In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they did. The number one determinant was soaring food prices. Their model identified a precise threshold for global food prices that, if breached, would lead to worldwide unrest.

The MIT Technology Review explains how CSI’s model works: “The evidence comes from two sources. The first is data gathered by the United Nations that plots the price of food against time, the so-called food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. The second is the date of riots around the world, whatever their cause.”


http://motherboard.vice.com/2012/9/10/we-are-now-one-year-away-from-global-riots-complex-systems-theorists-say
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September 11, 2012, 02:58:07 PM
 #2

There's a local butcher shop here which will give you a chest freezer if you buy enough meat to fill it. I got a 1 cubic meter freezer and I expect the price of meat when I'm done eating it will be significantly higher than what I paid for it.
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September 11, 2012, 04:03:53 PM
 #3

There's a local butcher shop here which will give you a chest freezer if you buy enough meat to fill it. I got a 1 cubic meter freezer and I expect the price of meat when I'm done eating it will be significantly higher than what I paid for it.
The problem is there are about 6 billion other people who can't find a deal like that (or afford it), and they are getting more and more pissed off.

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September 11, 2012, 04:29:32 PM
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It doesn't seem like it takes much.  The weather this year and last were really bad in the US, but the corn harvest will still be the 8th largest ever.  And in the face of constant rising demand, it will translate into record high prices.

What we are seeing is not a breakdown of our food production systems.  What we are seeing is the growth-dependent economy straining to keep up with the population pressures, and resulting consumption, it has created.  If the drought is just as bad next year, and if Brazil can't take up the slack, things will get bad.

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justusranvier
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September 11, 2012, 04:36:53 PM
 #5

The problem is there are about 6 billion other people who can't find a deal like that (or afford it), and they are getting more and more pissed off.
I agree, but I can't do anything about it. All I can do is try to make sure I have as little reason to riot as possible when things get bad.
Charlie Prime
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September 11, 2012, 04:39:25 PM
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What we are seeing is not a breakdown of our food production systems.  What we are seeing is the growth-dependent economy straining to keep up with the population pressures, and resulting consumption, it has created.

Wrong.  You are merely regurgitating the Malthusian propaganda fed you.

Food shortages are mostly by caused by government market intervention such as corn subsidies, fuel taxes, international tariffs, etc.
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September 11, 2012, 04:40:44 PM
 #7

I agree, but I can't do anything about it. All I can do is try to make sure I have as little reason to riot as possible when things get bad.
[/quote]
Actually in the long run you can, just choose not to reproduce.

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September 11, 2012, 04:48:44 PM
 #8

Actually in the long run you can, just choose not to reproduce.
That won't do much about the upcoming 1-3 years and in the long run global fertility rates are dropping and almost below the replacement level so the population problem is already being solved by the fact that when standards of living improve people choose to have less children.
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September 11, 2012, 04:51:22 PM
 #9

Here is that chart with the extrapolation:



I haven't found anything on their model though, as of how they do it. Drawing curves on a chart isn't really that reliable as we can see for example with bitcoin prices.

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September 11, 2012, 06:25:58 PM
 #10

Problem would be if the US anti-China rhetoric continues at the same time China can't shift away from infrastructure and export-led growth to a consumer-driven model. Australia and other countries that provide commodities to China are going get hit hard.

EDIT:
The second half of the article turns into a global warming scare. I'm sorry, I've yet to see a falsifiable claim made by global warming advocates. The strength of theory does not lie in what it predicts *will* happen, it is in what it predicts CAN NOT happen. This is what separated Natural Selection from Evolution and turned what was a suspicion into a unified theory.

Karl Popper must be spinning in his grave at this article.

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bb113
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September 11, 2012, 07:48:43 PM
 #11

I think it is US gas prices causing the riots:



Seriously though, they should have attempted to get food prices from the countries in which there were riots, as well as where there were not. That would be a much more interesting correlation to look at. The data is available from the same source:

http://www.fao.org/giews/pricetool/
bb113
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September 11, 2012, 10:02:52 PM
 #12


So I took the country average of the milk, meat, cereals, and oilcrops from the source below. It was only available yearly and up to 2010...(It is slightly different from how the world price index was calculated):

Quote
The FAO indices of agricultural producer prices measure the average annual change over time in theselling prices received by farmers (prices at the farm-gate or at the first point of sale. The indices are constructed usingprice data in Standardised Local Currency (SLC).

There are two categories of producer price indices available in FAOSTAT:

    Agriculture Producer Price Index This is an aggregate index for all primary crops and livestock products. For a country, theaggregate would include all primary crops and livestock products that are produced in that country, and for which bothproduction and producer price data are available.
    Single item indices Price indices are also available for individualcommodities, subject to data availability. Examples of these include:
        Wheat Producer Price Index
        Rice, paddy Producer Price Index
        Maize Producer Price Index

Data source: The main source of data for producer prices and production is the data reported bycountries to FAO. This data is available in FAOSTAT in the Prices and Production data domains. Coverage of countries: Theindices are available for all countries for which both price and production data are disseminated in FAOSTAT. Reference year:The base years of the indices are 2004-2006. The weight used for the aggregate index (Agriculture Producer Price Index) is theaverage production value for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006. Time period: The indices are available from 1999 to the latest yearof data availability. Methodology: The Agriculture Producer Price Index is calculated by the Laspeyres formula. The index iscalculated by summing the SLC price for a given year multiplied by production quantity in base year for all items in theaggregate and dividing by the sum of the SLC price in the base year multiplied by production quantity for the base year for thesame items.
http://faostat3.fao.org/home/index.html#DOWNLOAD



Greyscale lines are countries not mentioned as having a riot in their chart, while the colored lines are the data from countries that did (if available). The dotted black line is the average of all countries, not just riot having countries.
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September 11, 2012, 10:37:43 PM
 #13

Here is that chart with the extrapolation:



I haven't found anything on their model though, as of how they do it. Drawing curves on a chart isn't really that reliable as we can see for example with bitcoin prices.

Also, sorry for the triple post, but this paper is just such a bunch of crap. They fit "a third order polynomial" to extrapolate but fail to say what it was or why they chose to fit it. I bet it is as simple as they clicked around in excel until a line extrapolated to the date they wanted.
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September 12, 2012, 03:55:16 AM
 #14

I do not believe that we are one year away as this has been trumpeted many times.  I do on the other hand have insurance.  Even if you do not believe, PLEASE have at least 30 days of food for yourself and your family.  Go to the dollar store and buy 30 cans of food per person minimum.  Yes, 1 can a day is not much, but it plus water is enough to survive.  You are talking $30 per person.  Just do it.

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September 12, 2012, 04:06:48 AM
 #15

Here is that chart with the extrapolation:



I haven't found anything on their model though, as of how they do it. Drawing curves on a chart isn't really that reliable as we can see for example with bitcoin prices.

Also, sorry for the triple post, but this paper is just such a bunch of crap. They fit "a third order polynomial" to extrapolate but fail to say what it was or why they chose to fit it. I bet it is as simple as they clicked around in excel until a line extrapolated to the date they wanted.

They had to fudge the graph, the real math said Dec 21st 2012 and they wanted a chance to be taken seriously...

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benjamindees
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September 14, 2012, 12:42:31 AM
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You are merely regurgitating the Malthusian propaganda fed you.

As an American who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I can assure you that the only propaganda I was exposed to was along the lines of "The US economy will always grow forever because Jesus".  I don't think I even heard the name "Malthus" until well into my 20s.

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September 14, 2012, 12:45:24 AM
 #17

Wrong.  You are merely regurgitating the Malthusian propaganda fed you.

Food shortages are mostly by caused by government market intervention such as corn subsidies, fuel taxes, international tariffs, etc.
Drought isn't helping anything, although you're right that the government intervention such as mandated corn ethenol production makes it worse.
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September 14, 2012, 04:53:26 PM
 #18

Drought isn't helping anything, although you're right that the government intervention such as mandated corn ethenol production makes it worse.

I'm from Iowa and do not like ethanol subsidies.

I believe the biggest problem we're having/seeing lately is that because of the drought and lack of a farm bill, ethanol plants are closing. They used to sell byproducts of the ethanol production to livestock producers. Now these individuals still need the product, but they are paying higher rates since they aren't using byproducts. Ethanol would still have some market without subsidies, but it would be considerably smaller than it is today. The issue comes down to having no farm bill, and the uncertainty is causing all sorts of issues. They need to just pass the farm bill with reduced or no ethanol subsidies, and then people can get on their way. Not having one at all is preventing all these businesses from making decisions that they need to in order to operate.

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Severian
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September 14, 2012, 06:31:59 PM
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"The US economy will always grow forever because Jesus".

I'm just a little older than you but was subject to the same propaganda. I guess it was working for them.
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September 15, 2012, 06:52:58 PM
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I'm just a little older than you but was subject to the same propaganda. I guess it was working for them.

It was working for them.  They deliberately provoked a game of "resource-consumption chicken" with the USSR, and the Soviets blinked first.  That was the expected outcome, since state-capitalism is able to scale much better over short time periods than communism.  We got to pick up most of their sphere of influence in the aftermath.  And the US economy kept growing throughout.  Now, though, Russia has a Judo master in charge.  Our resource limits are becoming apparent.  Our global reach is diminishing.  Jesus hasn't returned.  And the same tricks no longer work.

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