Future Water Availability, Sustainable Dryland Agriculture, Desertification and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

  • D. P. Lewis
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)


Sustainable use of water and the future of food production have become topics of critical importance over the last decade. In northern and remote communities and arid zones around the globe, water scarcity, the rising cost of energy and food shortages have come to the forefront in discussions of sustainable development. Food production has become the biggest water user across the globe as industrial agriculture uses about 70 % of the total freshwater withdrawn each year (World Economic Forum, Managing our future water needs for agriculture, industry, human health and the environment. Discussion document for the world economic forum annual meeting, Davos, Switzerland, 2008). Expansion of the world’s deserts in many regions may be a canary in the coal mine that is signaling our unsustainable approach to these challenges. This chapter looks at the growing problem of drought, desertification and food shortages, suggesting a systems approach that relies on the 2nd law of thermodynamics and looks at the potential of using ecosystems as a guide to development of sustainable solutions to these looming challenges.


Coal Mine Arid Zone Meteorological Drought Agricultural Drought World Economic Forum 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainability and Water ManagementNovus Environmental Inc.GuelphCanada

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