After yesterday's celebration and victory for the people of Egypt, today marks the beginning of the hard work of implementing change while keeping the spirit of freedom and reform alive. We're left with more questions than answers as we learn of President Mubarak’s departure and the new military council taking control. But regardless, it is still occasion to celebrate.
The events of the past week are a testament to the power of people, the power of peaceful protest, and the power of non-violent dissent. Egypt’s was a revolution launched by young people, played out on Facebook and Twitter and won though non-violence. Thursday’s crushing disappointment following Mubarak’s defiant announcement that he was staying on could well have devolved into angry violence, forcing the military to move and ensconcing the 30-year old regime and army into their natural alliance. Instead, peace and non-violence prevailed and delivered a victory.
It is a lesson that politicians around the world should take to heart – governments (elected and non-elected) cannot ignore the will and aspirations of the majority, and should not underestimate the reaction of young people robbed of their future.
Interestingly, according to some, today’s events while rooted in inequity and economic hardship may well have been sparked by global warming. How so?
The heat wave that swept Russia last August causing forest fires, more than 15,000 deaths and an estimated $13 Billion in lost GDP also resulted in Russia suspending wheat exports. This move drove the price of wheat up on world markets and increased food prices for consumers. In turn, rising food prices played a prominent role in the unrest, protests and rioting that took place at the end of last year and into January in Tunisia that culminated in the fall of the government there. The unrest spread to Egypt and the rest, as they say, is history.
In a blog last week about the events in Egypt, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said “While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we’d expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate — which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.” It is an ominous warning from someone who is not a climatologist but an economist acutely aware of the connectivity of our environment, economy and conflict.
We live in interesting times to be sure. Let’s hope our leaders are paying attention.
In the meantime, let's celebrate the power of people to make change. Hurriya!