The mass unrest of the Arab Spring was triggered in part by rising food prices. In Algeria (above), the government slashed food prices in response to protests. (Photo by Magharebia.)

The Great Drought of 2012 has yet to come to an end, but we already know that its consequences will be severe. With more than one-half of America’s counties designated as drought disaster areas, the 2012 harvest of corn, soybeans, and other food staples is guaranteed to fall far short of predictions. This, in turn, will boost food prices domestically and abroad, causing increased misery for farmers and low-income Americans and far greater hardship for poor people in countries that rely on imported U.S. grains.

This, however, is just the beginning of the likely consequences: If history is any guide, rising food prices of this sort will also lead to widespread social unrest and violent conflict.