Water Crisis – the Unspoken Major Cause Behind Looming Food Shortages

Posted on September 8, 2010


Food shortages globally are already a reality. This year, Russia has announced that it will not be exporting grains. There are many causes for this but the growing scarcity of water is a main reason for it now and into the future. [Yale Environment 360]

  • With drought in Africa and the Western US, productivity is down.
  • Glaciers – particularly in China and India where irrigation is essential- are receding and taking water with them in this process.
  • Countries are draining underground sources of fresh water at an alarming rate, water conservation is not practices to any great extent.
  • Contamination of fresh water sources plays a significant role.

Other sources of scarcity are commodity speculation that  has pushed food prices higher creating scarcity for some and the fact that the US has put corn into production for bio-fuel rather than edible crops.  Still water as the major source for shortages is rarely discussed.

We here in the North East and Midwest are fortunate.  We have the the source for 20% of the world’s supply of fresh surface water; 95% of the US supply at our door – the Great Lakes.  However, we share them with several other nations: Canada and the Native American Nations.

The lands and waters of the Great Lakes are like no other place. In a world where fresh surface water is
increasingly in demand, the region contains some 20 percent of it. At a time when people are not looking as much
to faraway places for respite, the Great Lakes offer some of the most majestic natural shorescapes on the planet to
accommodate them. As a result, people are reconnecting to their beaches, wide-open waters, petroglyphed bluffs,
dune ranges and tumbling tributaries like never before. Likewise, these same resources have served as the raw
material to build some of the Earth’s most legendary cities, create jobs to support families, and contribute to the
largest economy in the history of the world.
Still, our expectation that the Great Lakes will continue to meet these needs has resulted in lost flora, fauna, soil,
and air and water quality to the point where the ecosystem is showing signs of severe stress and its ability to keep
up with these demands is in doubt.
While in the past we have worked to minimize harm, public demand for a new standard of care is surging. That
standard of care is that we must leave the Great Lakes better for the next generation than the condition in which
we inherited them. We must continue to go beyond minimizing harm to proactively rehabilitating the Great Lakes.
Only then will they be able to keep providing jobs, recreation and sanctuary.  [Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan]

I urge you to read the Yale Environment 360 article as well as the Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan. Both are excellent sources of basic information on what we are facing.