19. January 2010 23:11
Nate Berg, a frequent blogger on Planetizen, has become the pulse of agriculture reporting for me. If you are at all interested in the future of agriculture and how it interplays with urban environments, I would stalk his blog. One of his recent posts is about water shortages in California. Irrigation of crops accounts for 80% of the water used internationally. Of course, the number makes me panic, but all six billion of us on this planet need to eat, and we have long outpaced the passive irrigation systems of slow food agriculture. I think part of the tragedy is that people first settled areas based on where the richest farmland was located. This tended to be in river basins that flooded annually, bringing up nutrient-rich silt. Now these areas along the coasts and rivers have been filled over with concrete and managed with engineered systems to prevent flooding. We have lost the most naturally fertile lands to residential and business developments. This necessitates tapping into the deep underground waterways, and using irrigation. As Nate Berg notes, water is really going to be the limiting resource for the future growth of food.