You Can’t Grow Food Without Water; World Water Update

September 3, 2014 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

Peak oil has generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water. There are substitutes for oil, but not for water. We can produce food without oil, but not without water.

We drink on average one gallon of water per day, in one form or another, but the food we eat each day requires 500 gallons of water to produce, or 500 times as much. Getting enough water to drink is relatively easy, but finding enough to produce the ever-growing quantities of grain the world consumes is another matter.

Tapping underground water resources helped expand world food production, but as the demand for grain continued climbing, so too did the amount of water pumped. Eventually the extraction of water began to exceed the recharge of aquifers from precipitation, and water tables began to fall. And then wells begin to go dry. In effect, overpumping creates a water-based food bubble, one that will burst when the aquifer is depleted and the rate of pumping is necessarily reduced to the rate of recharge.

The world has quietly transitioned into a situation where water, not land, has emerged as the principal constraint on expanding food supplies. There is a large area of land that could produce food if water were available.

Read the rest of this article by Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute.

 

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Entry filed under: Food.

It’s time we gave our children permission to get outside and get dirty St.Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences Celebrates!

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