. Energy News .

Water crisis, population surge prompt rethink on food: UN
by Staff Writers
Stockholm (AFP) Aug 22, 2011

Population growth and water stress are driving Earth to a food and environmental crunch that only better farming techniques and smarter use of the ecosystem will avert, a UN report issued on Monday said.

The number of humans is expected to rise from seven billion in 2011 to at least nine billion by 2050, boosting demands for water that are already extreme in many countries and set to worsen through global warming.

"Currently, 1.6 billion people live in areas of physical water scarcity and this could easily grow to two billion soon if we stay on the present course," according to the report.

"With the same (farming) practices, increased urbanisation and dietary patterns, the amount of water required for agriculture in terms of evapotranspiration would increase from 7,130 cubic kilometres (1,711 cubic miles) today to 70-90 percent more to feed nine billion people by 2050."

The 35-page assessment was compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), drawing mainly on estimates in peer-reviewed journals.

It was released at the start of World Water Week in Stockholm, a forum on water issues.

The report said that in many high-intensity food-producing regions, water limits are already being "reached or breached."

They include the plains of northern China, India's Punjab and the western United States.

Climate change will accentuate scarcity as it will altering patterns and intensity of rainfall. In Africa alone, agricultural output could be reduced by 15-30 percent by century's end.

Using today's farm techniques, focussing on always higher yields and ever-wider use of land, would be disastrous, said the report.

"If the same agriculture practices continue to be used, it would result in the inevitable degration or complete destruction of the terrestrial freshwater and coastal ecosystems that are vital to life itself," it warned.

The report, An Ecosystem Services Approach to Water and Food Security, called for innovation to improve yields and end hunger but also be less damaging to the environment.

Ideas include better training for farmers, including incentives for environmentally-sound practices.

Crops should be selected that are more suited to scarce or erratic rainfall, better irrigation techniques would improve the efficiency of water use and catchment ponds in hot countries could be invaluable mini-reservoirs, helping small farmers to survive in times of absent rain, said the report.

Planting trees and shrubs on the perimeter of fields discourages water runoff and retains soil moisture, thus helping crops. It also enables habitat links for species living in fragmented patches of forest.

The report stressed better governance, in which ecosystems are managed holistically -- in other words, governments, farmers, urban dwellers and specialists come together to look at how to balance the needs of all water users with those of the environment.

By putting a dollar figure on the value of natural resources, farmers and consumers would get a better idea of the need to conserve, it said.

It cited a rough estimate of 70 billion dollars for the global economic value of wetlands, of which 5.25 billion is generated in Africa and 37.1 billion in Asia.

"We need to be thinking about bringing more and more agriculture into the 'green economy', where we value farming practices that protect our precious water resources in the same way we are beginning to value forest management that helps reduce greenhouse-gas emissions," said IWMI head Colin Chartres.

Related Links
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Gunmen threaten sister of killed Amazon activist: lawyer
Rio De Janeiro (AFP) Aug 19, 2011
In an apparent bid of intimidation, gunmen fired at the home of the sister of an environmental activist who was killed in May amid violent land disputes in Brazil's Amazon region, a monitoring body's lawyer said Friday. Jose Batista, a lawyer for the Pastoral Land Commission, said that Laisa Sampaio told him the men fired Wednesday at the door of her house and at her dog in what was "probabl ... read more

Google Maps taking armchair explorers to the Amazon

SSTL successfully launches two further Earth observation satellites

Unusual Fault Pattern Surfaces in Earthquake Study

Smoke from Virginia Lateral West Fire

Two SOPS calls on reliable spare for active service

S. Koreans file class action suit against Apple

Raytheon Wins Navy GPS Positioning, Navigation and Timing Service Contract

Technology Plays Important Role to Improve the Wine Industry

Reforestation and Lions in Greece

Cambodian 'Avatars' rally to save forest

Increased tropical forest growth could release carbon from the soil

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon up 15%

A Quick Way to Grade Grasses for Ethanol Yields

Gator in your tank: Alligator fat as a new source of biodiesel fuel

Single, key gene discovery could streamline production of biofuels

Metabolism in reverse: Making biofuels at full-throttle pace

New Government Incentive Delivers Massive Upside to China Solar Market

National Solar Power announces world's largest solar farm finalists

Langan Energy Solutions Completes Rooftop Solar Project

LADWP To Relaunch Solar Incentive Program

BMW to power Leipzig factory by wind energy

Chinese turbine maker enters Irish project

ACS Group sells Spain wind farm portfolio

Offshore wind power in the North Sea offer huge potential but enormous challenges

Mongolian miner signs coal deal with China firms

Pinera under fire over coal mine project

China rescuers end search for Guizhou miners

Australia PM hails coal deal amid poll slump

H.K. opens landmark hearing on maid's residency

China web giant Baidu sorry after media lashing

China search giant Baidu blasted by state media

US urges China to free prominent rights lawyer

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement