There is a cycle of survival that depends upon three things:
Socrates said there are 4 elements of life. Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.
We all need water, it is basic to survival, and yet in Texas, projections are that water for cities, agriculture and industry will have reached it's limit in a few years. Fire, relates to energy. Energy is depleting, and prices going up. Projections are that within 20 years, 70% of Texas oil reserves will be gone. Earth, is the source of agricultural production, and depends upon water, and energy. Air, that we breath and the wind that blows it provides an answer for energy to produce water and food. Organizations such as the Texas Economic Development council are deeply interested in these issues.
Water is becoming scarcer throughout the world. We have written and documented the loss of water, lakes, aquifers, throughout the world. China has lost hundreds of lakes. Russia's largest lake is down by 30%. Of the worlds 10 largest rivers, 8 of them don't make it to the sea, they are so over utilized.
The 'water industry' is currently a $420 BILLION market.
Global water consumption increased six-fold from 1900-1995, more than double the rate of population growth. (World Resource Institute)
- Humans withdraw 4,000 km3 of water a year. (Source, EPA)
- Of all the water on Earth, only 1% is available for human consumption.
- It takes 39,000 gallons of water to produce the average domestic auto. (Source, EPA)
- 48% of water is used to produce Thermoelectric Power
- 34% of water is used for irrigation
- 11% of water is used for public supply
- 5% of water is used for industrial
- 3% of water is used for livestock, mining and aquaculture
In Texas, it is now said that only .5% of all the water in Texas can be used by humans or for agriculture. The rest is polluted with salt, or chemicals. Projections are that by 2050, Texas will not have the water necessary to support its population. Cities throughout the world are struggling with the fact that in 5, 10, or 20 years, they will not have the resources to provide water for their people and industries.
Food is becoming ever more expensive. As we have learned, food prices can double, or even triple in price when energy costs go up. A rise in the price of oil (which is a diminishing resource), causes an increase in shipping expense, fertilizer expense, packaging, and processing expense. Plus the land for food production is disappearing due to urban sprawl and desertification. Food production is also hindered by rising prices and environmental constraints.
Farmers can no longer "broadside" their fields with DDT and other poisons, because of the negative impacts on the overall environment. Transportation of food has become an issue.
In September of 2009 a symposium of researchers in England, reported that 25% of the earth's atmospheric pollution is caused by the aviation industry. They predicted that aviation flights would have to be restricted and reduced in the future. This is important because a huge volume of the world's food is shipped by air.
During a recent trip to Dubai, I noticed my meal had food flown in from India, Bangladesh, China, Latin America, Europe and the United States. The strawberries on my plate had been flown in from California. The shrimp had been flown in from Ecuador and from Texas. As I looked at the foods and all the places the food had come from, I say tomatoes that the manager said came from California and Mexico. Those tomatoes flew over 7,000 miles to reach my hotel breakfast table in Dubai. They had more rapid rewards miles that I had!
The point is, consider the gas, the transporation expense, to fly a tomatoe 7,000 miles. It is a luxury that we may someday not be able to afford. The answer is to grow these crops locally and near the point of consumption. Greenhouses, drip irrigation, the use of renewable energy to power the irrigation wells and lighting and fans all are logical and common sense. These ideas could vastly improve our world and enrich the farmers who utilize them, as well as create more security for communities if the food chains are interrupted through weather, war or disaster.