An overview of global inequalities in the supply and consumption of resources
The consumption of resources across the world varies significantly. High-income countries (HICs) typically consume more than low-income countries (LICs). The main challenge is not having enough resources, but the existing resources are unevenly distributed. As a LIC develops, so too does its demand for resources. This growth in demand, along with population growth, leads to a shortage of resources.
The average calorie consumption in the UK is 3450 kilocalories. However, in a LIC such as Eritrea, it is 1590 kilocalories. There is a clear relationship between areas with the greatest population growth and the areas with the highest undernourishment levels.
Water supply around the world is limited and unequally distributed. To compare water consumption between countries, a water footprint can be calculated. This is the total amount of daily water used for things such as drinking and washing. It also includes the water needed to produce energy, food, goods and recycling. The world’s average water footprint is 1,240 litres per person. The USA has a water footprint of 2,483 litres per person, whereas Bangladesh is 896 litres per person.
The map below shows areas that suffer water scarcity. Some countries lack water due to physical factors such as a lack of rainfall. Others experience economic scarcity, meaning they do not have the money to access water.
As with water and food, there are considerable differences in energy consumption between countries. The wealthiest billion people consume 50 per cent of the world’s energy. Only 4 per cent of the world’s energy is consumed by the poorest 1 per cent.
Demands for energy resources are increasing in LICs and NEEs as they develop economically. As industry develops, farming becomes mechanised, and urbanisation occurs, energy consumption is rapidly growing.
The UK has a resource surplus. This helps explain the UK’s early and continued economic development and the relatively high level of well-being most people experience.
Food – The UK has a moderate climate, largely influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, which supports plenty of rainfall and mild temperatures. The UK is one of the world’s most efficient producers of food, benefitting from generally fertile soils, gentle relief in the south and east and advanced technologies.
Water – The west of the country is typically wetter than the east. However, water can be transferred from surplus to deficit areas. Although this imbalance of supply and demand, water supply is rarely an issue.
Energy – The Uk has considerable fossil fuel resources. In the past, coal was the main energy source; however, oil and gas are now more widely used. There are considerable reserves of oil and gas beneath the North Sea. The UK has several nuclear power plants, such as Hinkley Point and Sizewell, which use imported uranium. The UK has significant potential for renewable energy, with considerable investments being made in offshore wind farms such as those off the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire. The UK has around 35% of global offshore wind capacity installed and seven of the world’s ten largest offshore wind farms.
The demand for food in the UK
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