Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Food Riot Watch: Haiti. Just Wait for the Moche Climate*

From the IHT :
Haitian president calls for tax cuts on imported food to end food riots

From Xinhua:
U.S. embassy in Haiti suspends operations

From Reuters:
Haiti not descending into instability - minister

From Al Jazeera:
Haitians storm president's palace

From Dominican Today:
Fifty Haitians die in protests against high prices, Dominican ambassador says.

From Socialist Worker:
Let them eat ethanol

HT: The Wall Street Journal's MarketBeat blog who wrote:

Unrest arising from commodity prices has come in a number of forms and a number of countries during the last several months. Most recently, riots in Haiti have gone on for a week as citizens there have protested against the high price of imported food, particularly rice, which the country depends on. Food prices have risen 40% on average globally since mid-2007, but that’s a particular concern in Haiti, where people live on less than the equivalent of $2 a day. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report today that flooding in temperate regions and droughts in arid regions would further hurt agriculture, increasing the possibility of higher food prices around the globe.

*From Wikipedia:

...There are several theories as to what caused the demise of the Moche political structure. Some scholars have emphasised the role of environmental change. Studies of ice cores drilled from glaciers in the Andes reveal climatic events between 536 to 594 AD, possibly a super El Niño, that resulted in 30 years of intense rain and flooding followed by 30 years of drought, part of the aftermath of the climate changes of 535–536.[3] These weather events could have disrupted the Moche way of life and shattered their faith in their religion, which had promised stable weather through sacrifices.

The BBC had a show on the Moche a while back. Here's what they say happened:

...If the weather on the coast was the opposite, then it suggested a 30-year El Nino - what climatologists call a mega El Nino – starting at around 560 AD, which was followed by a mega drought lasting another 30 years. Such a huge series of climatic extremes would have been enough to kill off an civilization – even a modern one. Here, at last, was a plausible theory for the disappearance of the Moche. But could it be proved?...

It turns out that the Moche adapted to the 30 years of floods and the 30 years of drought which followed.
They ended up killing themselves after surviving all that:

...Dillehay now put together a new theory. The Moche had struggled through the climatic disasters but had been fatally weakened. The leadership - which at least in part claimed authority on the basis of being able to determine the weather – had lost its authority and control over its people. Moche villages and and/or clan groups turned on each other in a battle for scare resources like food and land. The Moche replaced ritual battles and human sacrifices with civil war. Gradually they fought themselves into the grave....