Human Dimensions of Global Warming

Food and Water

diagram showing the interconnected nature of energy, water, and food demands. See text description below
Demands on the system
Click here for a text alternative to the figure above

Image reads: As the population grows, pressures mount and the relationships between food, water and energy supplies become critical. Because of growth in the global population and the consumption patterns of an expanding middle class, in less than two decades three key demands will sharply increase.

Image is a circular flow chart:

Demand for freshwater +40%

Pressure: population increase

*Food production requires water

Demand for food +35%

Pressure: Population increase & Demands of a larger middle class

*Crops are being converted into biofuels in some countries

Demand for energy +50% Pressure: Increased urbanization

*energy-intensive desalination efforts use energy to produce drinkable water

*Food production requires energy to plant and harvest

Credit: CNA Military Advisory Board National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change, 2014

With a growing global population that's becoming increasingly urban and aspiring to middle class lifestyles, the demands on our food, water, and energy systems is expected to grow considerably in coming decades. Add climate change into the mix, and this creates a very precarious nexus of demands for basic needs like food and water.