MoD identifies resource strain

7th August 2014

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  • Agriculture


Francis Rowlands

Rising sea levels, water shortages, desertification and a mismatch between global energy supplies and demand are just a few of the threats identified in a report from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The fifth edition of Global strategic trends sets out a range of likely developments in the years to 2045 to help provide a strategic context for policymaking in the MoD and other government departments. It does not attempt to predict the future but describes the phenomena that could have a significant impact.

Thirteen overarching themes are covered in the report, including resources and the environment. A key issue for the environment will be the growing population, which by 2045 may have reached nine billion. This growth will increase the strain on vital resources, such as water and food. The report suggests, for example, that, without successfully managing water stress, it is likely that 3.9 billion people will suffer water shortages. And, as people cluster in vulnerable areas, such as coastal regions, the consequences of poor weather may be felt more keenly.

By 2045, climate change will be producing increasingly noticeable effects, says the MoD. Rising global sea levels – likely to increase by between 0.32 and 0.38 metres by 2050 – will heighten the risk of coastal flooding, particularly in regions affected by tropical cyclones. Droughts and heatwaves are also likely to increase in intensity, duration and frequency.

Extrapolations from current data suggest demand for energy could more than double by 2045, says the MoD. Although non-polluting power sources and better energy storage may make an increasing contribution, coal and hydrocarbons will remain the most important sources.

Overall, the MoD concludes that the effects of climate change are likely to be less severe in Europe than in other regions, although agricultural productivity may reduce in the south as water becomes scarce.


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