KEYM = Monarchy
UE = Unemployment
This crude table represents data that I have picked up on searches about the causes of protests in the Arab States. It is work in progress, and blanks (-) mean that I have not yet gathered anything on that field.
What emerges very strongly already is that unemployment, poverty and food prices are very common factors driving the dissent. Unemployment is the hey, because it creates poverty, and increases the RPG.
Even when all the dictators are gone, the new democratic governments will face major economic problems. It is very clear that the current economic model is not working. If there is no food, not even the purest of pure democratic governments cannot magic food out of the air.
We need a new economic model that can address unemployment, poverty and food prices. Conventional economics has one simple, single minded answer to this: Economic Growth in the Free Market. This model is not delivering. It pours investment into big businesses, who do employ some in making grandiose projects, but most of the investment sticks to the upper levels of management, who can buy grand homes, and save their wealth in banks at home and overseas.
Conventional economic growth does enable the rich to get richer, but the money does not "trickle down" to the working classes. The Trickle Down theory is discredited.
Green economics turns conventional economics on its head. Instead of beginning with money and markets, it is founded on ecology - our relation with the natural resources we need to live - water, food, energy, shelter, hygiene - and conviviality. (More)
The Green economic approach has a lot to offer the incoming democratic governments. The major headline areas for employment are water, food, energy and corruption control.
Water, for instance is an acute problem in Yemen, and a challenge in all arid regions.
Strategists have long worried about conflict over water resources.
However, Peter Gleik of the Pacific Institute states "Water resources have rarely, if ever, been the sole source of violent conflict or war."
Humans have evolved a way of co-operating about this most basic life resource.
Aaron Wolf believes that co-operation over scarce water resources offers a path to peace. Here is his resource page.
I have long been advocating the expansion of the approach of Friends of the Earth Middle East in cross community approach to water as a pathway to peace in Israel-Palestine.
So. Unemployment and water shortages are threats, but also opportunities.
We can create work in water management.
First, stop wasting water. Rural communities can use composting toilets instead of crapping into the drinking water. You know it makes sense. Return the matured compost safely to the land to boost fertility.
Second, harvest rainwater. You need plastic guttering, pipes, and storage tanks. Fit to each and every roof, and run the water into tanks. Use, after filtering and treatment if necessary.
Third, plant trees from the coast inwards. Forests act as aerial aquifers, absorbing and storing moisture, increasing cloud cover and precipitation.
Fourth, solar desalination plants offer great promise in production of electricity (ans salt) from seawater.
That's water. Next, food.
The Cuban response to food shortages is well known: Maximise domestic and small gardens.
In hot countries, this has an important secondary, cooling effect. Every bit of sunlight that is captured and turned into sugars by photosynthesis is a unit of sunlight that does not overheat the city.
Here is a .pdf on the Economic, Social and Ecosystem Benefits of the Urban Forest.
Even widespread use of window boxes can have a cooling effect, while at the same time providing fresh food to the household.
Vertical Gardens are a promising approach to extending urban growing space.
Next, Energy. North African countries are plentifully supplied with sunlight.
Solar water heating and photovoltaic collectors can be distributed on homes and workplaces.
Insulation is still necessary in hot countries, to keep heat out as well as in. All measures that reduce heat in living spaces reduces the need for energy expenditure on air conditioning.
As well as small-scale, distributed activity, there is a huge opportunity for economic activity in large scale solar energy collection, in the form of Concentrated Solar Power, as well as large-scale PV arrays.
Linked to this is the High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology that will be able to export surplus solar generated electricity to countries that can use it. In the long run, HVDC grids will play a very important part in our transition away from insecure and damaging fossil fuels.
These last two offer opportunities for classic, large scale investment, while the other measures are low-tech, small scale, labour intensive technologies that benefit people directly.
Finally, one more employment opportunity for white collar workers: an Anti-Corruption Police force. A new unit can be set up charged with identifying and prosecuting corrupt officials. This will massively reduce economic inefficiency.
In short, there is an opportunity in the green sector of the economy to address unemployment directly, with the result of both short and long-term economic benefit.