Posted by: Patrick Mosolf | Thursday, 19 March, 2009

UK Government Chief Scientist Warns of Food, Energy, and Water Shortages within 20 Years

The chief scientist for the UK government has warned that there will be more severe food, energy, and water shortages as the world’s population expands to 8.3 billion people by 2030.  Food and energy demand is projected to grow by more than 50% over current levels, while demand for fresh water is to grow by more than 30%. (See this link)

The scientist, Professor John Beddington, said that while food and fuel prices have fallen again since highs in 2008, the lower prices must not become a reason to ignore the problem, which demands urgent steps be taken.

I would predict that these problems will hit the world’s poor in the most severe way, as food prices will increase, cutting dramatically into the already meager budget;s of the world’s poor families.  Many rural people around the world already work long hours to attain water, especially affecting women and children who are usually the ones carrying out this work.  Of course, water shortages could also affect agricultural production by poor farmers.

Hopefully, this will be a wake up call for people who think that the size of the human population is not a problem.  At the same time, while pointing at population, this article does not raise the issue of overconsumption by the wealthier people in the world, which is equally a part of the problem.  It will be difficult, although entirely possible, to create ways for wealthier people in the world to reduce their consumption of these resources.

It is also rarely mentioned in the news media, but reducing consumption of meat, or becoming vegetarian altogether, can help to resolve these problems by reducing the amount of food eaten, as well as the water used to produce it.  (Meat usually takes large quantites of grains and water to produce.  Eating plant- based products instead of meat would reduce the amount fed to animals, leaving more to go around among humans, and reducing market prices.) 

In my observations, people generally assume that the situation will continue pretty much as it is now, or that people’s living standards will continue to improve in the upcoming years.  But articles like this show that many people may be in for a rough ride in this  century.

All the more reason why people need to get active, involved, and do something to solve this problem!


  1. Diana says she could become a vegetarian if were not for BBQ ribs!

    Great article.

    Love, DAD

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