A recent study by researchers from the University of York and Anglia Ruskin University has identified potential vulnerabilities within the UK food system. These vulnerabilities could result in food shortages that lead to civil unrest in the country. The study highlights that popular carbohydrates such as wheat, bread, pasta, and cereal are the most likely to trigger such unrest in the event of extreme-weather-induced food shortages. The study also reveals that over 40% of food experts surveyed believe civil unrest in the UK is either possible or more likely than not in the next ten years. This increases to nearly 80% when respondees consider  the next 50 years. The study identifies a combination of factors that could lead to such a scenario, including extreme weather, ecological collapse, trade restrictions, financial crashes, rogue AI, and pandemics.  The research suggests that logistics and distribution issues could cause unrest within the next decade, but catastrophic failure resulting in insufficient food is the most likely cause over a 50-year time horizon.

Jones A, Bridle S, Denby K, Bhunnoo R, Morton D, Stanbrough L, Coupe B, Pilley V, Benton T, Falloon P, et al. Scoping Potential Routes to UK Civil Unrest via the Food System: Results of a Structured Expert Elicitation. Sustainability. 2023; 15(20):14783. https://doi.org/10.3390/su152014783


Share this story