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Archi-ponics: Natural Resources, Scarcity, & The Future of War, Part 2

Could wars soon be fought over a lack of available water? Could wars soon be fought over a lack of available water?

We were discussing last week that in the near future, the diminishing availability of water and other natural resources will certainly create tension, if not armed conflict between neighboring communities, tribes, nations, and regions. The more stable regions with more viable economies will be those with the greatest access to those resources, and the ability to use them in a sustainable manner.

Agriculture is at the crux of this discussion. To produce food for the seven billion people who live on this planet requires massive amounts of water, energy, and other natural resources. As standard energy sources such as oil and gas diminish, agriculture products will also be used to supply energy demands. Crops like algae will likely be grown to fill the energy gap, but that will increase the amount of inputs required in the agriculture industry, using primarily large amounts of water, as well as fertilizer and land. The good news is they will likely create high-skill jobs and will be more sustainable than current energy sources if produced in efficient systems.

Although it will not happen overnight and it won’t be easy, we can meet these challenges of providing our own energy and food security.

Globally, the agriculture industry is the leading consumer of fresh water, but that is different in developed nations like the U.S. where agriculture falls second to domestic energy productions. This is important to understand because domestic energy production such as hydroelectric, municipal solar (which uses the sun to boil water to turn turbines), and nuclear power (which uses water to cool the power plant), all require massive amounts of water. Despite all that production, we are still exporting $500 billion per year for foreign energy. Few people I know appreciate the fact that we export so much U.S. money to unstable regions like the Middle East. I believe that the challenge in front of us is to find ways to supply our energy demands at home and feed all Americans healthy food at affordable prices. Obviously that would revive our stagnant economy, wouldn’t it?

I believe with great challenge comes great opportunity. Although it will not happen overnight and it won’t be easy, we can meet these challenges of providing our own energy and food security. If we do, we can propel our country into a new era of prosperity. Of course, hydroponics plays a key role in securing our success. The increased integration of hydroponic systems into our agriculture industry will mean water reduction of up to 90% that can then be used for energy production. Plus, if you’ve ever spent time in a controlled environment equipped with hydroponics systems, then you know the labor required is not the typical “cheap” labor agriculture is known for; skilled labor is needed to operate these intense systems.

Hydroponic agriculture can provide well-paying jobs in a favorable environment. And let’s not forget that by taking the crops out of the soil, we reduce the amount of pesticides needed, almost completely eliminate the use of herbicides, and reduce the contamination of our soils and waterways from nitrates and other chemicals. Yes, it’s true that not all crops are suited for commercial scale hydroponics, but for the crops that are suited, there are great market opportunities. You can understand why I’m saying that getting into hydroponic food production is not only a good business plan, it’s also a matter of national security.

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Colin Archipley is uniquely qualified to talk about both hydroponics and national security.
Last modified on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 16:02

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