(481b) Some Thoughts on Sustainability: Food, Energy, and Water

Authors: 
Cabezas, H., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The World is steadily moving into a major challenge. The challenge is how to provide for the human population within the limits of one planet, the Earth, over the long term. The effort is known as sustainability. To explore this challenge, I will focus on three closely linked issues of providing food, energy, and water. In addition, there is the issue of maintaining order and stability as necessary conditions for any kind of acceptable human existence. These issues, unfortunately, present critical but not well-bounded problems, and for that reason there are many more questions than answers. However, to explore the issues and their bounds, I will discuss what is known including some planetary limits and limits imposed by the known laws of Nature. I will lastly discuss where and how engineers can help in the effort to provide food, energy, and water for humanity. This will include some concrete examples where engineering design has helped to mitigate these challenges. The lecture will conclude with some thoughts on which approaches might stand the best chance of adoption and implementation under current and foreseeable future conditions.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.