Friday, 23 April 2010

Fragile things

While reading online news about the recent volcanic eruption under the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in Iceland, I found this article
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/16/flight-ban-shortages-uk-supermarkets). The critical sentence which really stood out for me was this

The UK imports about 90% of its fruit and 60% of its vegetables.

This is actually quite shocking! Our food supply is that vulnerable to the impacts of peak oil and climate change. That we depend so much on imports to feed ourselves, and the environmental cost of all the food miles.

Connected to this issue of food security, a report by Engineering the Future Alliance, reported here by the BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8628832.stm, examined the unsustainable importation of "embedded water" (this is the water used to produce the product, for example about 1,500 litres of water to produce 1kg of sugar) into the UK. Given our general high level of consumption, this has a huge effect on water security in developing nations. An interactive map, showing predicted areas of water stress as global population and temperatures rise is available here
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7821082.stm.

Already many nations are using their groundwater at an unsustainable rate, often for agriculture, often growing crops for export.

It is short-sighted to continue to drain their water and expect the produce to continue to appear on our supermarket shelves, As these nations come under the predicted stresses, will they be willing or even able to supply the food we depend on?

This situation highlights how unsustainable and how dependent on imports our food supply is and its vulnerability, As the oncoming crisis unfolds, the impact on all our lives will be huge.

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