You have heard this scenario many times before. As global climate changes, there will be dramatic changes in rising temperatures, storm severity, and drought and flood occurrences. Continually rising population levels will only place further stress on global food production capacity to meet the increasing demand.
At present, the biggest food production challenge is the availability of freshwater for irrigation. The importance of water for agricultural use worldwide is outlined nicely in this USGS site: Irrigation Water Use.
“Throughout the world, irrigation (water for agriculture, or growing crops) is probably the most important use of water. Almost 60 percent of all the world’s freshwater withdrawals go towards irrigation uses. Large-scale farming could not provide food for the world’s large populations without the irrigation of crop fields by water gotten from rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and wells.”
It is not a stretch to imagine what will happen to agricultural productivity if those sources of freshwater are compromised. They are being compromised today and will be further impacted as climate change becomes more pervasive around the globe.
There is a pioneering effort taking place in Costa Rica that could provide and innovative alternative to traditional agriculture. Rather than try to force crop production on land that has been ravaged by desertification and over-production, countries with ample freshwater lakes could use “lake surfaces to produce crops and varieties of aquatic plants”.
The article: Aquatic Agriculture Offers a New Solution to the Problem of Water Scarcity was recently published in The Guardian. It contains an embedded video segment that complements the description of the process. As with anything new that is introduced into the environment, precautions must be taken to best understand the potential consequences. Ricardo Radulovich, professor of water science at the University of Costa Rica sums up this need for caution:
“”If people need it, and they do, the water environment must be used intelligently, and even changed, to an extent, without biological or environmental chaos.”