Two of the most precious things that human beings take for granted are the ability to have access to and to safely obtain food and water. It is a scary thought that one day this may not be the case. In countries such as India and Mexico water is already unsafe and drinking it can cause dysentery. In African countries there is a great shortage of food which leaves many starving and produces images of starvation appearing every day on television. There are groups trying to reach out and do all they can to help these people but, in the end there are always people that cannot be reached. The purpose of this sample research paper is to discuss food and water security and why it is the most important thing on this planet.
What is Food Security?
Many people would ask the question “What is considered to be food security?” Food security is considered to be fulfilled when all people are able to physically, socially and economically access safe, nutritious food that meets dietary needs and allows them to successfully live a healthy and productive life (United Nations). It is very difficult for most people to eat healthy when the cost of food that is nutritious is much higher than food that is not. In the U.S. we are seeing a rise in the number of people applying for state assistance such as welfare, EBT or food stamp benefits (Read more about welfare in the U.S. here). The assistance these programs provide often times are not enough to feed oneself let alone a large family. Where is the security when there is a constant worry about where one’s next meal is coming from?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow said that there is a hierarchy of needs that everyone in the world will spend their entire life trying to meet and will never be truly satisfied until they have met them all. The most basic of needs is food and water security and yet, many people ever reach full fulfillment of this need. Biological and physiological needs which require having food, water, and air are the most pressing. Another important need is that of physical security so that we feel safe. What many do not realize is that the two are interconnected and go hand in hand (McLeod). We simply would be lost without having the ability to feel safe and sustain ourselves as human beings.
Human Rights for Food and Water Security
In 1945, after the many atrocities committed in World War II it was time to make sure that nothing as horrific as concentration camps during the holocaust would ever happen again. A document would be drafted that would define what it meant to be a human being. Despite many that thought anyone would ever be able to get many, very different, nations to agree on any one topic, Eleanor Roosevelt was able to accomplish this in one single act (United Human Rights). It remains in the Guinness Book of World Records as a momentous achievement for food and water security. All humans rightly deserve basic necessities like food and clean water. The sad part is that there are many that do not have access to clean water. Often, many who do will have to make the difficult choice to irrigate their crops, bathe, or simply drink from their limited supply.
In counties such as Vietnam and others that grow rice, who only knows what else can be found in the water the rice grows in. These rice farmers have no choice but to use soiled water because it is all that is available to them. In Indonesia, the drinking water is just as soiled. The government does nothing to help them and they do not dare speak out against them, because it can mean death for them and their families. Something must give so these people are able to have access to clean water and not have to boil the existing water just to be able to use it.
Future Issues That Could Affect Food and Water Security
As we have become more industrialized there are many that have forgotten about how we are going to handle the waste that we are creating. When coal and steam engines were being used during the Industrial Revolution we started polluting the air, especially coal. This may have gone unnoticed initially, but in today’s world it has led to entirely too much pollution. Many U.S. states and cities require drivers to smog check their vehicles every year to ensure that they are not giving off too many emissions. It is a shame that is has come to this, but since we cannot protect food and water security on our own, someone has to step in and help regulate environmental policies.
We also have the fear of Global Warming and whether or not it is an actual issue that we need be concerned about. Global Warming is a result of the Greenhouse Effect which occurs when too much heat is trapped on the Earth due to trees being cut down and depletion of the ozone layer which bounces the sun’s rays back into space. When the rays cannot be bounced back into space heat builds up on the planet’s surface causing climate change and drastic change in global weather patterns (Brown). Aside from food and water security, we are already seeing signs of the polar ice caps in the Artic melting which could cause polar bears to become tragically extinct. How many more tragic events must occur before we humans wake up and realize that we are causing major problems?
Current Drought Situation and Water Security
In southwest United States, especially California, there is a major issue of drought and with it comes the need for preserving animals used for food security such as salmon and other species of fish. In addition, California also experiences large annual wildfires which only expedite the drought. There is also the problem of not being able to irrigate crops which sustain the western part of the United States and other parts of the country as well. The Department of Agriculture was being tasked to approve any and all requests to help the state of California to provide water to those that needed it due to the drought conditions. The problem is, that this will adversely affect protected wildlife (U.S. House of Representatives). It is a case of whom or what are more important, people or the salmon? It has been decided that the answer is people. There will be those who will feel the wrong choice has been made, but it becomes a question of survival of the fittest. And sadly, humans are much more fit for these conditions than fish.
Disputes Over Water Security
Ethiopia wants to build a dam on the Nile River which has provided Egypt with its water supply for centuries. This is bound to cause a problem of course since Egypt is not willing to let this happen. The most difficult part of the situation is the fear that having a dam on the Nile will slowly eliminate the flow of rich nutrients that have supplied Egyptian farmlands since the water will stop at the dam (George). While this may not occur, it is very obvious Ethiopia needs to hold talks with all of the nations that their project is going to effect. Aside from food and water security, nations such as Saudi Arabia may feel threatened by something so monumental on their border (George).
Many think it is beneficial for a small, poverty-stricken country like Ethiopia to attempt a feat such as their monumental dam. Any nation should be able achieve greatness for their country but there is a correct way and a wrong way. It seems that they did not consider all of the problems that they may encounter in the planning stages. There are other countries to consider and there are those that will fight for their own food and water security. The current war in Syria has many ties to food and water security and warfare tactics involving starvation. Egypt strongly believes that the Nile belongs to them (George). With all of these different cultures and politics to balance, the importance of making food and water secure and accessible for all becomes even more so. The question is how we accomplish this without creating another World War. Everyone wants their voice to be heard but are they willing to listen as well? Or is it a case of the old saying that the “squeaky wheel is the one that will get the grease”?
Importance of Conservation for Food and Water Security
To reduce possibility of food and water insecurity, the general public must be educated on conservation of food and water. The government must help to ensure the water we do have access to stays clean, and that incidents like the situation in Flint, Michigan don’t happen. It is up to us to make this change so that there are more resources available for everyone. If we hope to make a difference for all involved, we have to make sure that we are doing all we can to make a difference. Not just for our own household, but also for the next seven generations. The ways that we can do this are very simple such as:
- Being mindful of our water consumption this can be done by not running as much water when we are brushing our teeth.
- Use a toilet that is water efficient
- Use appliances that are energy efficient also
- Use fluorescent light bulbs. Even though they are a little more expensive the fluorescent bulbs are actually more energy efficient and last longer, saving more money in the future (Fraiture)
These are only some of the ways that we can make a difference to ensure that all of our resources are protected so that there is enough for generations to come. What is not realized is that even though there are renewable resources, even they have limitations. Droughts can come and bring limits to the water supply as we have seen in areas like California. Lake Mead in Nevada is currently experiencing record lows in its level this year which is a concern for its residents. We need to find other ways to pump water to these western states, so that it is possible to plan for these types of situations.
Solutions for Food and Water Security
As a society all we seem to see are problems, but no one seems to be looking for solutions to these problems. We have begun to see past using oil, by having our vehicles operate with hybrid engines or even newer innovations such as fully electric cars. It will be advantageous when we can invent the car that can drive without the need for gas to operate. It would allow the long depleted oil and coal resources that are left to possibly regenerate themselves. Expanding the use of solar power to automobiles would be another advantage as well. It would provide another way to use a natural resource that does not have to be mined from the ground, or destroy mountains using mountaintop removal leaving flooded valleys below.
Food and water security is the single most important issue in the world today. It is needed for the ensured survival of the not only our nation but our species and the world itself. Arguing will not solve these problems and only lead to even larger issues being created. If we hope to see a better future, where everyone can live together in peace and harmony, then we must be willing to come together and help each other. We must be our brother’s keeper and put aside the things that make us different such as race, religion, and different beliefs. We must look at what makes us human. Only then can we hope to succeed in achieving security for all of our natural resources and ensuring the survival of all mankind for many centuries to come.
Brown Partworks LTD. Inventions & Inventors: Power and Energy. Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational , 2000. Print.
Fraiture, Charlotte de. Water, Food & Energy Security. Research Themes. UNESCO Institute for Water Education. n.d. Web. 5 June 2016. https://www.unesco-ihe.org/research-themes/water-food-energy-security.
George, Lloyd William. “Ethiopia’s Plan to Dam the Nile Has Egypt Fuming.” 28 June 2013. Time.com. Web. 5 June 2016.Retrieved from http://world.time.com/2013/06/28/ethiopias-plan-to-dam-the-nile-has-egypt-fuming/?iid=sr-link1.
U.S. House of Representatives “H.R.2898 – Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015.” 16 July 2015. Congress.gov. Web . 5 June 2016. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2898.
McLeod, Sam. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Humanism. Simply Psychology. 2016. Web. 5 June 2016. www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html.
United For Human Rights. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Learn Your Human Rights. 2008. Web. 5 June 2016. https://www.humanrights.com/what-are-human-rights/universal-declaration-of-human-rights.html.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Water for Life Decade. International Decade for Action Water For Life. 23 October 2014. Web . 5 June 2016. http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/food_security.shtml.