Maxine Fay Miller
Food and Water Sustainability
26 Jan 2009
According to a report on 21st January 2009 by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institution of Chemical Engineers, launched in Westminster by Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs we have a looming world food crisis, caused by climate change and economic growth in emerging nations. In turn this will lead to survival of the fittest.
Changing weather patterns caused by enhanced global warming, crops being used for fuel rather than food, and the emerging Chinese and Indian middle classes will all contribute to a breakdown in the global food supply chain.
One of the greatest technological challenges facing humanity today is meeting the increasing energy and food demands despite declining fossil fuel resources - without permanently damaging the environment.
The World Bank estimate that by 2030 our current planet cereal production must increase by 30% and meat production by 80% to meet the demands of a global population exceeding eight billion – up by more than a billion on current numbers.
Agriculture currently uses almost three quarters of the world’s water resources. According to research by the United Nations by 2050, as many as 60 countries will experience water scarcity. We need to develop and improve chemical technologies to conserve and reuse water, treat contaminated water, recycle water, desalinate and harvest water for irrigation.
Water is a precious resource and in Our Future Planet we will develop technologies to conserve and reuse water including recycling water and harvesting water. Individuals can harvest their own water by using water butts and this water can be used for gardening and even domestic uses if there is a water shortage.
Professor Peter Lillford CBE explains that the poorest nations that succumb first: “The countries that are less technologically advanced and those that rely most heavily on food imports will be the first to suffer. It will be survival of the fittest.
“In the developed world, because food is relatively cheap, we waste it. That is no longer morally or economically acceptable and we’ll also rely on the chemical sciences to implement technology to reduce this waste, alongside the need for adjustments in consumer behaviour. There is no way out of this unless we make changes,” warns Lillford.
In Our Future Planet we will limit food waste by using renewable and biological packaging and we could use and develop renewable resources such as biogas generated from domestic waste and sewage to fuel our houses.
How will we ensure that every one has enough food and water in Our Future Planet?
What technologies can we use to recycle water and desalinate water?
What population size can the world support so that everyone can have enough food and water?
What changes in lifestyles should be adopt to make the earth’s resources sustainable?