The U.S. food–energy–water system: A blueprint to fill the mesoscale gap for science and decision-making
Food, energy, and water (FEW) are interdependent and must be examined as a coupled natural–human system. This perspective essay defines FEW systems and outlines key findings about them as a blueprint for future models to satisfy six key objectives. The first three focus on linking the FEW production and consumption to impacts on Earth cycles in a spatially specific manner in order to diagnose problems and identify potential solutions. The second three focus on describing the evolution of FEW systems to identify risks, thus empowering the FEW actors to better achieve the goals of resilience and sustainability. Four key findings about the FEW systems that guide future model development are (1) that they engage ecological, carbon, water, and nutrient cycles most powerfully among all human systems; (2) that they operate primarily at a mesoscale best captured by counties, districts, and cities; (3) that cities are hubs within the FEW system; and (4) that the FEW system forms a complex network.
KeywordsEnvironmental footprints Food–energy–water nexus Network analysis Urban ecology
This article is based upon research supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1639529. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
- Baggio, J.S., B. BurnSilver, A. Arenas, J.S. Magdanz, G.P. Kofinas, and M. De Domenico. 2016. Multiplex social ecological network analysis reveals how social changes affect community robustness more than resource depletion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences United States of America 113: 13708–13713. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1604401113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bailey, R., and L. Wellesley. 2017. Chokepoints and vulnerabilities in global food trade. London: Chatham House Report.Google Scholar
- Carolan, M.S. 2011. Embodied food politics. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- FEWSION (2016). Retrieved 2 February 2018 from http://fewsion.us.
- Haberl, H., K.H. Erb, F. Krausman, V. Gaube, A. Bondeau, C. Plutzar, S. Gingrich, W. Lucht, and M. Fischer-Kowalski. 2007. Quantifying and mapping the human appropriation of net primary production in earth’s terrestrial ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences United States of America 104: 12942–12947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hoekstra, A.Y., A.K. Chapagain, M.M. Aldaya, and M.M. Mekonnen. 2011. Water footprint assessment manual: Setting the global standard. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Hoff, H. 2011. Understanding the Nexus. Background paper for the Bonn 2011 Nexus conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute.Google Scholar
- McManamay, R.A., S.S. Nair, C.R. DeRolph, B.L. Ruddell, A.M. Morton, R.N. Stewart, M.J. Troia, L. Tran, et al. 2017. US cities can manage national hydrology and biodiversity using local infrastructure policy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences United States of America. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1706201114.Google Scholar
- Mekonnen, M.M., and A.Y. Hoekstra. 2011. National water footprint accounts: The green, blue and grey water footprint of production and consumption: Volume 1: Main report. Delft: UNESCO-IHE.Google Scholar
- Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Ruddell, B.L. 2017. NWEP: The National Water Economy Project. Retrieved 25 April 2017 from www.nwep.org.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2107 from http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/imports/companylevel/.
- Yergin, D. 2011. The quest: Energy, security, and the remaking of the modern world. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar