If terrorism recedes as the central defining question of contemporary international relations, will "natural security" rise to take its place? Thom Shanker sees natural security emerging "not just by competitive economic growth, but also by potentially disruptive scarcities -- depletion of minerals; desertification of land; pollution or overuse of water; weather changes that kill fish and farms."
Natural security, and its potential to fuel new conflicts between states, is becoming an issue because of the rapid growth of a truly global middle class -- projected to encompass some 5 billion people by 2030. Two of the drivers of a middle-class lifestyle are increased consumption of meat and access to private transportation, but both of these factors help to drive up grain consumption and with it food costs. In the former case, the shift to obtaining more food from animal protein quadruples consumption of grains, because more grain is diverted to animal feed. In the latter, the impact on prices is due to the massive diversion of grains into producing fuel additives. Lester Brown observes that in 2010, of a total U.S. grain harvest of 400 million tons, 126 million went to ethanol distilleries. Ten years earlier, the figure was only 16 million tons. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $11.99 monthly or $94.99/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- Strategic Horizons: Understanding the Enemy: Inside the Mind of the Islamic State
- The Realist Prism: Even After Midterms, Obama Faces Hard Choices on Energy, Climate
- Global Insights: Hagel Launches New U.S. Defense Initiatives to Address Old Problems
- Diplomatic Fallout: U.N.’s Syria Cease-Fire Plan a Risky Gamble, but Worth It
- Strategic Horizons: Killing Baghdadi: Decapitating the Islamic State Is No Silver Bullet