Climate change and poverty
Peak oil and climate change line are seen as two of the underlying causes of a huge leap in food prices and the number of people driven into extreme poverty.
The World Bank's “Food Price Watch” estimates that food is 36% more expensive than a year ago and warns that, since June 2010, high prices have added 40 million people to the world's billion plus people living below the extreme poverty line of $1.25 a day.
High energy costs and last summers drought and fire stricken harvests have led to steeply rising food prices. In the west food is only a small element of our living cost. The rising prices of staple foods like wheat and maize mean meat, dairy and bread get a little more expensive but its not a disaster. For the world's poorest food can be 100% of the budget, and that's a budget that will, at best, buy a few kilos of maize or flour.
The April 2011 report links price rises to a combination of severe weather events in key grain exporting countries, high energy prices, which affect production costs directly (and also drive competition for land for biofuel production) and a range of other economic and political variables.
In 2008 when food prices reached similar levels food riots and protests hit over 30 of the world's poorest nations and were an underlying factor in the unrest in Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. Ironically - the 2008 riots are one of the factors that have helped push energy prices to their current levels