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Global riot epidemic due to demise of cheap fossil fuels
全球暴乱陡增归咎于廉价化石燃料
From South America to South Asia, a new age of unrest is in full swing as industrial civilisation transitions to post-carbon reality
随着工业文明转变至后碳时代现实,从南美到南亚,动荡新时代正值活跃
If anyone had hoped that the Arab Spring and Occupy protests a few years back were one-off episodes that would soon give way to more stability, they have another thing coming. The hope was that ongoing economic recovery would return to pre-crash levels of growth, alleviating the grievances fueling the fires of civil unrest, stoked by years of recession.

如果有人曾盼望若干年前的阿拉伯之春和占领华尔街抗议活动不过是很快便向稳定让步是一次性事件,那这些人真是大错特错。由于连年经济衰退,人们更为强烈地期盼当前经济复苏恢复到崩溃前增长水平,并缓和助长内乱之火的怨气。

But this hasn't happened. And it won't.

但这种情况现在不会,将来也不会发生。

Instead the post-2008 crash era, including 2013 and early 2014, has seen a persistence and proliferation of civil unrest on a scale that has never been seen before in human history. This month alone has seen riots kick-off in Venezuela, Bosnia, Ukraine, Iceland, and Thailand.

相反,2008后经济崩溃时代,包括2013年和2014年初,经历了之前人类史上从未有过规模的内乱持续和扩散。仅本月就有委内瑞拉、波斯尼亚、乌克兰、冰岛以及泰国爆发动乱。

This is not a coincidence. The riots are of course rooted in common, regressive economic forces playing out across every continent of the planet - but those forces themselves are symptomatic of a deeper, protracted process of global system failure as we transition from the old industrial era of dirty fossil fuels, towards something else.

这种情况并非巧合。暴乱当然有着共同的根源,经济力量衰退遍及全球——但随着我们从使用肮脏化石燃料旧工业时代朝其它形式转变, 这些力量本身反映出了一种更深层、旷日持久的全球系统缺陷。

Even before the Arab Spring erupted in Tunisia in December 2010, analysts at the New England Complex Systems Institute warned of the danger of civil unrest due to escalating food prices. If the Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO) food price index rises above 210, they warned, it could trigger riots across large areas of the world.

甚至此前2010年十二月在突尼斯爆发的阿拉伯之春,新英格兰复杂系统研究所( 美国一家致力于推进综研究的小型研究所)的分析家就发出过粮食价格攀升引发内乱威胁的警告。他们警告过,若粮食和农业组织(FAO)的粮食价格指数高于210将触发大面积世界内乱。

Hunger games

饥饿游戏

The pattern is clear. Food price spikes in 2008 coincided with the eruption of social unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Cameroon, Mozambique, Sudan, Haiti, and India, among others.

模式很明确。2008年粮食价格暴涨恰逢突尼斯、埃及、也门、索马里、喀麦隆、莫桑比克、苏丹、海地以及印度等地爆发社会动荡。

In 2011, the price spikes preceded social unrest across the Middle East and North Africa - Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Libya, Uganda, Mauritania, Algeria, and so on.

2011年,价格暴涨先于中东和北非的社会动荡——埃及、叙利亚、伊拉克、阿曼、沙特阿拉伯、巴林、利比亚。乌干达、毛里塔尼亚、阿尔及利亚等等。

Last year saw food prices reach their third highest year on record, corresponding to the latest outbreaks of street violence and protests in Argentina, Brazil, Bangladesh, China, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and elsewhere.

去年经历了粮食价格达到记录上第三次最高年份,对应了当时阿根廷、巴西、孟加拉共和国、中国、吉尔吉斯斯坦还有土耳其和别处爆发的街头暴力及抗议活动。

Since about a decade ago, the FAO food price index has more than doubled from 91.1 in 2000 to an average of 209.8 in 2013. As Prof Yaneer Bar-Yam, founding president of the Complex Systems Institute, told Vice magazine last week:

约十年前,FAO粮食价格指数就从2000年的91.1翻倍至2013年的平均209.8。正如复杂系统研究所创会会长巴哈彦教授上对诉Vice杂志(北美洲杂志,内容专注国际艺术、文化和新闻方面主题)所说的:

"Our analysis says that 210 on the FAO index is the boiling point and we have been hovering there for the past 18 months... In some of the cases the link is more explicit, in others, given that we are at the boiling point, anything will trigger unrest."

"我们的分析家表示FAO指数的210即为沸点,并且过去18个月里我们一直在该点徘徊……某些情况下这种关联更为明确,其它情况下,由于处于沸点,任何事都会触发动乱。"

But Bar-Yam's analysis of the causes of the global food crisis don't go deep enough - he focuses on the impact of farmland being used for biofuels, and excessive financial speculation on food commodities. But these factors barely scratch the surface.

巴哈彦对全球粮食危机根源的分析却不够深刻——他专注于农田被用于生产生物燃料。以及过度的粮食商品金融投机所带来的冲击。可这些因素连触及表面都算不上。

It's a gas

燃气

The recent cases illustrate not just an explicit link between civil unrest and an increasingly volatile global food system, but also the root of this problem in the increasing unsustainability of our chronic civilisational addiction to fossil fuels.

近来的案例不仅说明了内乱与全球粮食系统日益动荡间的关联,还有人们化石燃料慢性成瘾文明那逐步增长的不可持续性中该问题的根源。

In Ukraine, previous food price shocks have impacted negatively on the country's grain exports, contributing to intensifying urban poverty in particular. Accelerating levels of domestic inflation are underestimated in official statistics - Ukrainians spend on average as much as 75% on household bills, and more than half their incomes on necessities such as food and non-alcoholic drinks, and as 75% on household bills. Similarly, for most of last year, Venezuela suffered from ongoing food shortages driven by policy mismanagement along with 17 year record-high inflation due mostly to rising food prices.

在乌克兰,早前的粮食价格冲击已对国家粮食出口造成负面影响,尤其加剧了城市贫困。提升了被官方统计低估的国内通胀水平——乌克兰人在家用账单上平均花费高达75%,一半多收入花费在必需品,例如食品和非酒精饮料上,还有75%花在家用账单上。去年大多时候,委内瑞拉同样遭受着政策管理不善带来的持续性粮食短缺,连同粮食价格上涨导致的17年创纪录高度通胀。

While dependence on increasingly expensive food imports plays a role here, at the heart of both countries is a deepening energy crisis. Ukraine is a net energy importer, having peaked in oil and gas production way back in 1976. Despite excitement about domestic shale potential, Ukraine's oil production has declined by over 60% over the last twenty years driven by both geological challenges and dearth of investment.

当依赖日渐高昂的进口粮食从中作梗,粮食进出口国家双方中心均产生了能源危机深化。乌克兰是一个能源净进口国,早在1976年便处于油气生产高峰。尽管国内页岩潜在量,乌克兰的石油生产量因地质上的挑战及缺乏投机已经下跌了60%以上。

Currently, about 80% of Ukraine's oil, and 80% of its gas, is imported from Russia. But over half of Ukraine's energy consumption is sustained by gas. Russian natural gas prices have nearly quadrupled since 2004. The rocketing energy prices underpin the inflation that is driving excruciating poverty rates for average Ukranians, exacerbating social, ethnic, political and class divisions.

通常,乌克兰80%的石油以及燃气进口自俄罗斯。不过一半以上的乌克兰能源消费靠燃气支撑。俄罗斯天然气价格从2004年起翻了约两番。飙升的能源价格维系着折磨乌克兰大众的贫困率,使得社会、民族、政治和阶级分化剧增。

The Ukrainian government's recent decision to dramatically slash Russian gas imports will likely worsen this as alternative cheaper energy sources are in short supply. Hopes that domestic energy sources might save the day are slim - apart from the fact that shale cannot solve the prospect of expensive liquid fuels, nuclear will not help either. A leaked European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) report reveals that proposals to loan 300 million Euros to renovate Ukraine's ageing infrastructure of 15 state-owned nuclear reactors will gradually double already debilitating electricity prices by 2020.

当更为低廉的替代能源供不应求,乌克兰政府近日大幅削减俄罗斯燃气进口的决定很可能会使这种情况恶化。国内能源资源挽救局势的希望十分渺茫——除了页岩无法解决昂贵液体燃料的前景,核能也不行。一份欧洲复兴开发银行(EBRD)泄露的报告揭示,用于翻新乌克兰境内15国所有核反应堆老旧基础设施的3亿欧元贷款计划将逐渐使衰弱的电力价格于2020年翻番。

"Socialism" or Soc-oil-ism?

"社会主义"还是社会石油主义?

In Venezuela, the story is familiar. Previously, the Oil and Gas Journal reported the country's oil reserves were 99.4 billion barrels. As of 2011, this was revised upwards to a mammoth 211 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, and more recently by the US Geological Survey to a whopping 513 billion barrels. The massive boost came from the discovery of reserves of extra heavy oil in the Orinoco belt.

委内瑞拉的情况众所周知。早先时候《石油与燃气杂志》报道称国家石油储备为994亿桶。截止2010年,储备量被提升修订至已探明石油储量有2110亿桶之巨,且最近美国地质调查局显示的储量高达5130亿桶。此次里诺科油带中超重原油储藏的发现大规模提升了储备量。

The huge associated costs of production and refining this heavy oil compared to cheaper conventional oil, however, mean the new finds have contributed little to Venezuela's escalating energy and economic challenges. Venezuela's oil production peaked around 1999, and has declined by a quarter since then. Its gas production peaked around 2001, and has declined by about a third.

然而,巨额的生产相关费用和比超重原油精炼更廉价的常规石油意味着该处新发现对委内瑞拉逐步上升的能源与经济挑战来说无异于杯水车薪。委内瑞拉的石油生产量在1999年左右达到顶峰,此后便下跌了四分之一。其燃气生产量则在2001年左右达到顶峰并由此下跌了三分之一。

Simultaneously, as domestic oil consumption has steadily increased - in fact almost doubling since 1990 - this has eaten further into declining production, resulting in net oil exports plummeting by nearly half since 1996. As oil represents 95% of export earnings and about half of budget revenues, this decline has massively reduced the scope to sustain government social programmes, including critical subsidies.

与此同时,国内石油消费稳步上升——事实上自1990年就几近翻倍——这种情况进一步耗费了下跌的产量,导致石油净进口自1996年呈现出约二分之一的暴跌。石油代表着95%的出口收入和大概50%的预算收入,产量下跌大幅缩减了支撑政府社会项目的范围,包括关键性补助。

Looming pandemic?

逼近的世界瘟疫?

These local conditions are being exacerbated by global structural realities. Record high global food prices impinge on these local conditions and push them over the edge. But the food price hikes, in turn, are symptomatic of a range of overlapping problems. Global agriculture's excessive dependence on fossil fuel inputs means food prices are invariably linked to oil price spikes. Naturally, biofuels and food commodity speculation pushes prices up even further - elite financiers alone benefit from this while working people from middle to lower classes bear the brunt.

此类地方环境正被全球结构现实所激化。创新高的全球粮食价格对这些地方环境造成冲击,并将它们逼向边缘。但粮食价格攀升反而显示出一些列堆叠的问题。全球农业极度依赖化石燃料投入意味着粮食价格必定与石油价格暴涨挂钩。自然而然地,生物燃料和粮食商品投机甚至于推动价格更进一步上扬——中产乃至更低阶级的劳动人民首当其冲时,精英金融家则独享其利。

Of course, the elephant in the room is climate change. According to Japanese media, a leaked draft of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) second major report warned that while demand for food will rise by 14%, global crop production will drop by 2% per decade due to current levels of global warming, and wreak $1.45 trillion of economic damage by the end of the century. The scenario is based on a projected rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius.

当然受到刻意回避的问题无非是气候变化。根据日本媒体,一份联合国政府间气候变化工作小组(IPCC)泻出草案中的次级主报道警告,由于现今全球变暖水平,粮食需求增长14%的同时全球农作物生产量会每十年下降2%,并在世纪末造成14500亿美元经济损失。

This is likely to be a very conservative estimate. Considering that the current trajectory of industrial agriculture is already seeing yield plateaus in major food basket regions, the interaction of environmental, energy, and economic crises suggests that business-as-usual won't work.

这还只是一项保守估计。考虑到当前农业产业化轨迹已在主要粮食产区已步入高产期,环境、能源、经济危机之间的联动表明正常营业将失去效力。

The epidemic of global riots is symptomatic of global system failure - a civilisational form that has outlasted its usefulness. We need a new paradigm.

全球暴乱陡增当属全球系统缺陷特征—— 一种文明形式的存在时间超出了其有效期。我们需要新典范。

Unfortunately, simply taking to the streets isn't the answer. What is needed is a meaningful vision for civilisational transition - backed up with people power and ethical consistence.

不幸地是,单单走上街头并非解决之道。我们需要的是针对文明转型的长远目光——依靠人民力量和伦理一致性。

It's time that governments, corporations and the public alike woke up to the fact that we are fast entering a new post-carbon era, and that the quicker we adapt to it, the far better our chances of successfully redefining a new form of civilisation - a new form of prosperity - that is capable of living in harmony with the Earth system.

是时候让政府、企业和公众都意识到我们正飞快进入新后碳时代的事实了,并且越快适应它,我们成功重新定义新文明形式的机会就越大—— 一种新形式的繁荣——能够在与地球系统和谐生活的文明。

But if we continue to make like ostriches, we'll only have ourselves to blame when the epidemic becomes a pandemic at our doorsteps.

倘若继续学鸵鸟那样逃避现实,让动乱在自己国家发生,我们只好自食其果。