CALIFORNIA AG WATER STRESS REFLECTS
to World Resources Institute (WRI), currently more than 25
percent of the world’s agriculture is grown in highly water-stressed areas.
That includes half of irrigated cropland, which itself is responsible for 40
percent of the global food supply.
stress is defined by the amount of water used in an area compared to its
renewable supply. In highly water-stressed regions, 40 percent or more of the
supply is used up annually; when that ratio reaches 80 percent, it’s considered
extreme. In addition to hurting agriculture production, a stressed supply also
affects water managers’ ability to respond to droughts and other severe or
demand in some parts of the world already exceeds natural local supply, as
it does in California. Overlaying global crop production maps with WRI’s Aqueduct's Water Risk Atlas reveals
agriculture’s current exposure to water stress. The Atlas also shows projected changes.
|Current Water Risk, Featuring California View (Source: WRI)|
Finding a balance between water availability and
agriculture is essential, especially as the global population expands. Only by
looking at food and water together is it possible to address the challenges
Forecasts for 2030 water demand,
under business-as-usual conditions, show a 50% rise.
Agriculture will drive nearly half of the additional demand, because global
calorie production needs to increase 69 percent to feed 9.6 billion people by
The food-water tension won’t affect just
agriculture; agriculture’s growing thirst will squeeze water
availability for municipal use, energy production, and manufacturing, as we are seeing in our own state.
By 2050, the world will need about 60 percent
more calories annually to feed 9 billion people. Cutting current food
loss and waste levels in half would shrink the size of this food gap by 22
That is why WRI is working on mapping how the
world’s relationship with water will be changing in the coming decades and
identifying sustainable solutions to increase food production.
|Projected Water Risk, Featuring California View (Source: WRI)|
To ensure a water- and food-secure
future, solutions include:
food loss and waste (Nearly 25% of global food calories
produced go uneaten.)
- Improved storage methods
- Food redistribution
- Better food date labels
- Reduced portion sizes
- Consumer awareness campaigns
- Food loss and waste reduction
- Shift to healthier diets
- Reduced biofuel demand
- Achieved low replacement
fertility rates (population growth)
- Increased crop yields
through better soil and water management.
- Better data on where and how agriculture is water-constrained provides a tool for a more robust agricultural
sector that does not overtax water and other natural resources.
while California’s agricultural water situation is dire, particularly in the
Central Valley, unfortunately, we are NOT
Lindsay Abrams, Salon
World Resources Institute/Coco Cola Corporation
WRI is a global research organization that works closely with leaders to
turn big ideas into action to sustain a
healthy environment—the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being.
Labels: Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, California Ag Water Stress Reflects Global Situation, Tension between Food and Water Supplies, Water stress, World Resources Institute