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Scientists Say Water Shortages Could Force World To Go Vegetarian
August 27, 2012
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Leonardo da Vinci once said "water is the driving force of all nature." Well, if he's right (and he probably is), we could be headed for real trouble.

According to a report by some of the world's leading water scientists, the planet won't have enough water in the next 40 years to feed everyone. Here's their concern.

By 2050, the world's population is expected to reach 9 billion. That's an extra two billion people that will have to be fed. Obviously, you need water to do that.

Trouble is, if there isn't enough water, you can't irrigate farmland or grow enough food. So, what to do? Well, scientists say if things don't change, we might have to make some radical changes.

How radical? Imagine if the world had to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet. Sounds crazy? Well, the scientists say it might be necessary to avoid a disaster.

As the report's editor put it, "We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future."


Right now, we get about 20 percent of our protein from meat. Scientists say that might have to drop to 5 percent, in order to feed an extra two billion people. Then, they say, there would be just enough water to take care of everyone.

And don't forget, we need more and more water to meet the world's energy demands as well.

The report is being released at the start of the annual world water conference in Sweden. Politicians, UN bodies, NGO's and researchers from 120 countries are there.

Now, before you totally freak out, scientists say there are other things we can do such as... Stop overeating. Stop wasting water. And increase trade between countries that have a lot of food (like Canada) and countries that don't.

A separate report by the International Water Management Institute has another option. It says we can help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia by investing in small pumps and simple technology, instead of developing huge, expensive projects.

It says that could increase food production by up to 300 percent and add tens of billions of dollars to the regional economies.


Right now, the UN World Food Programme and Oxfam are preparing for another possible food crisis - the second in five years. Prices for corn and wheat are up nearly 50 percent since June, because of severe droughts. More than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages.

Oh, and just to top off your day, Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart (who made Sharkwater) has a new environmental documentary called 'Revolution'. It premieres at TIFF next month.

Stewart also has a new book called 'Save the Humans'. In it, he makes the case that our oceans are becoming so acidic, ocean fish could be completely gone by 2070. Read more here.

Related stories on

The TerraMar Project: Ocean Citizenship With Waterfront Views?

Our Oceans At Risk: A Conversation With Marine Biologist Peter Sale


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