A Systems Approach to Crisis Preparedness and Organizational Resilience

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A 2007-08 global food crisis sparked riots from Haiti to Bangladesh to Egypt. [1] The skyrocketing food prices shocked the world for they occurred in a year when global agriculture reaped a record grain crop.

In 2011 and coming years, such crises stand to repeat with greater intensity. Russia faces severe drought and wildfires throughout the region where wheat is grown. Pakistan's devastating 2010 floods damaged 600,000 tons of wheat and eroded great expanses of prime agricultural lands.[2]

The world has been optimistic about food supply since the "Green Revolution" that allowed world population to grow from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion in 2010, but these increased yields have jeopordized long term agricultural fertility. Industrialized agriculture dependent on oil strips soil of its nutrients; unsustainable draws of water have led to 'steep drop in the water tables and productive lands lost to salinization and water logged soils. [3] A combination of lower prices from commoditzation and Increased debt for industrial farm machinery, seeds, pesticides and fertilizers have drvien farmers across the globe off the land [4], leaving agriculture still more dependent on petroleum, the price of which may climb precipitously.

With global population continuing to rise, demand will at some point -- probably soon -- outstrip supply, resulting in mass-scale hunger, which in turn is likely to lead to war, police states, revolution, or worse. Consequences of past famines such as the Great (European) Famine of 1315–1317 included not only mass death, but also extreme levels of crime and disease, erosion of institutional authority, infanticide and cannibalism.[5]

sff 2011 Jan 15


[1] Biello, David (2008) "Has the Food Crisis Abated? a Q&A with Joachim von Braun , Director General of the International Food Policy Research' Scientific American, Accessed on 15 Jan 2011;

   Gulf Times, 'Costlier Food unleashes a Tsunami: UN' 23 Apr 2008 and 'Vietnam aims to clam panic buying binge' 24 Apr 2008

   Bourne, Joel K (June 2009) "The Global Food Crisis: The End of Plenty' National Geographic, Accessed 2011 Jan 16 ;

[2] Stratfor (2010) "The Global Food Crisis, Drought, Fire and Grain in Russia' accessed on 16 Aug 2010;

   Financial Times, "Rise in wheat prices fastest since 1973'  2 Aug 2010; "Time to regulate volatile food markets' 20 Aug 2010;

   Hecht, David (2009) "Little Keeps Nigeria from a Crisis of Hunger' Washington Post, accessed on 17 Aug 2010;

   World Bank, " Food Crisis May Repeat, Warn Leaders in Global Hunger Fight' , 15 Apr 2009

[3] Shiva, V. (1992) The violence of the Green Revolution: Ecological Degradation and Political Conflict in Punjab (New Delhi: Zed Press). Farmers not only lost their lands' fertility and became dependent on multi-national corporations for fertilizers and seeds, but the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers contaminated the water to such an extent that pesticides are found in the Punjabi farmer's blood, their water table, their vegetables, even in their wives' breast milk. Today, cancer rules several Punjabi villages of India.

[4] Pollan, Michael (2006) The omnivore's dilemma: A natural history of four meals (University of California Press) website 

[5] Jordan, William C. (1996). The Great Famine. (Princeton University Press) ISBN 1400804175Medieval Sourcebook., "Famine of 1315"ww.fordham.edu. Retrieved 2010-11-01. Warner, Kathryn. "Edward II: The Great Famine, 1315 to 1317"Edward II. Retrieved 2010-11-01. Goldberg, Fred. "Climate Change in the Recent Past" (PDF). Frontier Centre for Public Policy. Retrieved 1 November 2010. Nelson, Emeritus Professor, Dr. Lynn H.. "The Great Famine and the Black Death 1315-1317, 1346-1351"Lectures in Medieval History. WWW Virtual Library. Retrieved November 7, 2010

Future Scenario(s): Diary of an Interesting Year 

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Date Page Created: Apr 20, 2011 Last Page Update: Feb 26, 2011