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Enough water to double world food production: study

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BRASILIA — There is enough fresh water in the world to double food production in the next decades — the problem is its inefficient use, according to a study released Monday at the World Water Congress meeting in Brazil.

“There is clearly sufficient water to sustain food, energy, industrial and environmental needs during the 21st century,” read the report, published in a special edition of the journal Water International.

The five-year study involving experts in 30 countries “is the most comprehensive effort to date to assess how … human societies are coping with the growing need for water.”

The world’s most pressing problem is doubling food production to feed a growing population “expected to expand from seven to 9.5 billion people by 2050,” the report read.

Water scarcity “is not affecting our ability to grow enough food today,” said Alain Vidal with the Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), the group that produced the report.

“Yes, there is scarcity in certain areas, but our findings show that the problem overall is a failure to make efficient and fair use of the water available in these river basins.

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“This is ultimately a political challenge, not a resource concern,” he said.

According to Vidal, “huge volumes of rainwater are lost or never used, particularly in the rain-fed regions of sub-Saharan Africa. With modest improvements, we can generate two to three times more food than we are producing today.”

Simon Cook, one of the study coordinators, told AFP that the capacity to increase food production “is there, but only if we use the water in a balanced way.”

Water management must be seen in their totality for a balanced use, Cook said.

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The report notes “the increasingly political role” of managing the competing demands for water. These include water for crops and pastures, to generate electricity, for industrial use, and for city residents.

The experts studied 10 river basins around the world, including the Indus-Ganges, Mekong, and Yellow in Asia; the Limpopo, Nile and Volta basins in Africa; and the Sao Francisco and the Andes river basin in South America.

The XIV World Water Congress meets through Thursday at the resort town of Porto de Galhinhas in north-eastern Brazil.

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Father and daughter drowning at the border fuels anger at Trump immigration policies

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A shocking photograph of a Salvadoran man and his baby daughter drowned in the Rio Grande fueled a surge of emotion around the world Wednesday -- as US Democrats furiously denounced Donald Trump's immigration policies.

"Trump is responsible for these deaths," said Beto O'Rourke, one of several Democratic White House hopefuls who took to Twitter to lash out at the president.

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is also seeking the presidency in 2020, called the image "gut-wrenching."

"History will judge how we respond to the Trump administration's treatment of immigrant families & children -- we can't be silent," he said.

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Australian student feared detained by North Korea

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Australia on Thursday said it was "urgently seeking clarification" on the fate of a citizen feared detained in North Korea.

The department of foreign affairs said it was in contact with the family of a man "who has been reported as being detained in North Korea".

Korean-language media named him as Alek Sigley, one of only a handful of Western students at Kim Il Sung University, where he studies Korean literature.

He also runs a company specialising in tours of North Korea and has written articles about Pyongyang's dining scene and other issues for NK News and other outlets.

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Greenpeace sounds alarm over shark overfishing in North Atlantic

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Thousands of endangered sharks are killed each year in the North Atlantic due to a lack of protection against overfishing in international waters, Greenpeace said Thursday.

Fishing vessels dedicated primarily to catching swordfish in the area collectively caught four times more sharks than swordfish by weight with their long lines loaded with thousands of hooks, the environmental group said in a report based on findings from Greenpeace ship Esperanza which visited the region earlier this year.

"It is absolutely immoral to kill sharks and other wildlife with these terrible fishing practices," said Will McCallum, of Greenpeace?s Protect the Oceans campaign, in a statement.

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