Russian Invasion Could Spark Massive Famine
Severe drought in South America coupled with the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could cause a massive famine.
“If Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine is not stopped immediately, there will be famine in a macro-region with a population of 1 billion people,” warns an anonymous user on Telegram. This famine will cause “global destabilization,” a “global humanitarian crisis,” and a “massive influx of migrants to the EU and Africa from the Middle East and South Asia.”
Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat, accounting for nearly 30% of the global supply. Wheat represents roughly 20% of mankind’s total caloric intake.
With ports closed, infrastructure smashed, and farmers forced to fight or flee, it is unclear if Ukraine will be able to export any wheat this year.
“The longer the hostilities continue, the more significant the impact on crop yields and production will be,” warns Mike Lee of Green Square Agro Consulting. “If there is still ongoing fighting by the wheat harvest in July, then very little might be harvested at all. If the conflict persists, Ukraine may be unable to produce enough wheat to feed itself thanks to shrapnel in fields, destroyed roads, and other damage caused by the invasion.
Countries in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East that rely on Ukraine for wheat and other staples are expected to start seeing shortages as soon as July. Egypt, which importers nearly 80% of its foodstuffs from Russia and Ukraine, is at particular risk of famine.
It is unlikely that farmers in the United States will be able to make up for the decreased supply of wheat as they struggle with inflation and supply shortages left over from the pandemic. Farmers in Washington state are still recovering from 2021, when drought conditions lead to the lowest yields since 1964.
The situation in Argentina is even worse, where lack of rain and high temperatures have impacted the growth of summer crops like soybeans and corn. Argentina’s Paraná River (the continent’s second largest after the Amazon River) is so dry in some areas that ranchers are able to drive their cattle across.
“When you have one bad year, you can face it,” says Sergio Koci, a sunflower farmer living near the Paraná. “When you have three bad years, you don’t know if there will even be another year.” Koci predicts his sunflower yield to decrease by 65% this year.
In Chile, the government has declared agricultural emergencies in half of its 16 regions amid a 13-year drought that has led to lost crops, energy shortages, increased transportation costs, a slowdown in copper mining, and wildfires. Officials worry they won’t have enough water to fill reservoirs used to maintain the hydroelectric power plants necessary for regional power grids.
Drought conditions are so severe in Bolivia that some families are forced to drive five or more hours to reach water for laundry and bathing.
The poor conditions in South America are a result of La Niña, a climate pattern characterized by stronger-than-average winds that affect ocean currents. La Niña, which occurs on an irregular basis every two-to-seven years, brings drought to the Southern United States and South America and flooding to Canada and the Pacific Northwest.
As the world’s largest exporter of processed soy and second largest exporter of corn, Argentina depends heavily on its exports for foreign currency and is currently struggling with a debt of $40 billion.
With drought “hot spots” present on all continents save Antarctica, the United Nations has warned that we could be moving towards the world’s “first drought famine.”
Another factor that could speed us towards famine is the global uptick in gas prices, which will impact the movement of crops. Truck freight was already 54% more expensive in Argentina than in the US before Russia invaded Ukraine.
What is Telegram?
Telegram is a chat app being utilized in Russia and Ukraine by opponents of the war. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Telegram offers users some degree of privacy and anonymity. The app, which reached 1 billion downloads last year, has been an important tool for protestors living in Hong Kong and Belarus.
Telegram offers one-to-one texting (like WhatsApp), encrypted messaging, one-to-many communication channels with no maximum audience, and private chatrooms. The app has been a successful tool for relief workers in Ukraine and dissenters in Russia.
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