Egypt Chaos Driven by Resource Scarcity

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed writes in The Atlantic that while Egyptian “violence is largely framed as a conflict between Islamism and secularism, the roots of the crisis run far deeper. Egypt is in fact on the brink of a protracted state-collapse process driven by intensifying resource scarcity.”


  1. Excellent article. Required reading for anybody interested in the near future (next decades) of our planet: Population overshoot meets lowering ceiling of resource depletion, and a little bit of climate change gets amplified as a huge stressor.

    It is now time to get real with elementary biogeophysics and ecology 101. Get real with reality, forget your super ego dreams (money, Mars colonies, 72 heavenly virgins, etc, etc.), dear Homo Sapiens. Otherwise, our chances will be zilch when climate disruption hits big time.

  2. Tourism is indeed extremely important, but can't feed all of 80 million people (and rapidly growing). The services sector is 50% of the Egyptian economy accoding to wikipedia, tourism employing 12%. The last bombing was 2006. 2009/10 tourism was doing excellent, constituting 1% of the world's tourism market.

    But this didn't help Mubarak. Here's from an article from January 2011 (when the Egyptian Revolution started)

    The fact that large percentages of its population are young people who are grappling with that joblessness, destitution, and ballooning food prices adds fuel to the volatile mixture of political and personal discontent that exploded against the government in Cairo.

    Nearly half of all Egyptians live under or just above the poverty line, which the World Bank sets at $2 a day, (...)

    The Land of the Pharoahs barely scrapes along economically because of its exploding population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile River.

    Those conditions “all continue to overtax resources and stress society,” the CIA World Factbook notes, adding, “despite the relatively high levels of economic growth over the past few years, living conditions for the average Egyptian remain poor.”

    A similarly stark assessment comes from the United Nations Children’s Fund, with a study noting that the situation for children has deteriorated despite efforts of the government, public institutions, and grass-roots organizations.

    “The income gap in Egypt has steadily increased since 2000, and almost 7 million children were living below the income poverty line in 2008,” the report says. “This is almost 1.3 million children more than about 10 years earlier.”


    Experienced a three-fold increase in the number of malnourished children under the age of five since 2000, with the number at 1.5 million in 2008

  3. Another noteworthy article from Feb. 2011: Shocking numbers:

    Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)
    Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha
    Food imports: 40% of requirements
    Grain imports: 60% of requirements
    Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007
    Oil production peaked in 1996
    Cost of oil rising steeply
    Cost of oil and food tightly linked

    Plus, add highly volatile world food price index due to climatically unstable farming conditions.

    A beacon of sanity (but I have no hope, given the numbers) is Ibrahim Abouleish's SEKEM initiative

  4. From Syria, more old news, same old stuff:

    DAMASCUS, 9 September 2010 (IRIN) - A top UN official warns that Syria's drought is affecting food security and has pushed 2-3 million people into “extreme poverty”.

    Mar 6, 2011
    (...) most of these extra mouths to feed have been born into the poorest, drought-ravaged eastern regions, the very areas where emergency food aid is still being handed out to malnourished families.
    One of the highest population growth rates in the world (...) is severely hampering efforts to tackle widespread poverty and raise living standards among Syria's more than 20 million citizens.
    Since then the growth rate has fallen to an annual average of 2.37 per cent but, given the larger absolute numbers involved, a record 500,000 Syrians are now added to the population every year,

    Meanwhile, some violence.
    Where next will this pattern repeat itself?

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