Thursday, March 19, 2009


Guardian - A "perfect storm" of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions, the UK government's chief scientist will warn.

In a major speech to environmental groups and politicians, Professor John Beddington, who took up the position of chief scientific adviser last year, will say that the world is heading for major upheavals which are due to come to a head in 2030.

He will tell the government's Sustainable Development UK conference in Westminster that the growing population and success in alleviating poverty in developing countries will trigger a surge in demand for food, water and energy over the next two decades, at a time when governments must also make major progress in combating climate change. . .

Food prices for major crops such as wheat and maize have recently settled after a sharp rise last year when production failed to keep up with demand. But according to Beddington, global food reserves are so low - at 14% of annual consumption - a major drought or flood could see prices rapidly escalate again. The majority of the food reserve is grain that is in transit between shipping ports, he said.

"Our food reserves are at a 50-year low, but by 2030 we need to be producing 50% more food. At the same time, we will need 50% more energy, and 30% more fresh water.
Before taking over from Sir David King as chief scientist last year, Beddington was professor of applied population biology at Imperial College London. He is an expert on the sustainable use of renewable resources.