When I was back in Sweden last week my mum and I walked into the local grocery store and realized beef was £25/kg. I knew about rising food and fuel prices and the riots and starvation in the developing world, but I hadn't personally experienced it - I'd even laughed at the Americans finally having to cut down on their mad consumption and sense of entitlement, and had basically felt that a bit of dieting, however painful (and deadly for the people at the bottom), might ultimately do the world some good. Now I'm trying to learn more.
Amos Nur gave a brilliant talk at Stanford lately on the topic of peak oil and it's relation to living standards and war. It's a shame there's no video but it's fairly easy to imagine the graphs he sometimes refer to and he's a good speaker.
Amos Nur - The Emerging Global Oil Panic (1hr, iTunes)
The conclusion, basically, is that the slowdown in the US economy and the rising cost of fuel and food worldwide, is not a temporary or cyclical problem, and certainly nothing that Obama can solve by good-will and pacifism alone. We are simply running out of our primary source of energy. The years between now and the technological solution(s) that allow a shift to alternative sources of energy will be tricky, especially if scarce resources are as closely related to war as Mr. Nur argues.