UK Plant Sciences 2012 & the Journal of Experimental Botany
Seawater Greenhouse Ltd, UK
Running time: 00:17:45 min
Just add water
Drought, desertification, food shortages, famine, energy security, land use conflict, mass migration and economic collapse, climate change and CO2 sequestration are just some of the issues that can be overcome by adding water, but how? Present methods of supply in arid regions include; over-abstraction from ground reserves, diverting water from other regions and energy-intensive desalination. None of these are sustainable in the long term and inequitable distribution leads to conflict. The growth in demand for water and increasing shortages are two of the most predictable scenarios of the 21st century. Agriculture is the primary pressure point. A shortage of water will also affect the carbon cycle as shrinking forests reduce the rate of carbon capture, and will disrupt the regulating influence that trees and vegetation have on our climate. Fortunately, the world is not short of water, it is just in the wrong place and too salty. Converting seawater to fresh water in the right places offers the potential to solve all these problems. Currently there are over 1 million hectares of greenhouses worldwide of which some 200,000 hectares are in the Mediterranean region. This area has been growing at around 10% a year. Most of these face water quality and availability issues and most contribute to the depletion of ground water. By using greenhouses to create fresh water from seawater, we convert an extractive model of agriculture into a restorative one, and grow more crops.