The significance of food, water and energy
Food, water and energy are fundamental to social and economic human well-being
For us to be healthy, live a good life and have good social relations and security and freedom of choice a regular supply of food, water and energy are essential. Where food, water and energy are abundant, relative to demand, there are significant economic and social benefits. If people have regular support, their quality of life and economic well-being will improve. Where they are scarce, this has a significant impact on well-being.
Food provides us with energy which is needed to work and enjoy ourselves. We measure the energy in the food we eat in calories. The number of calories an individual needs to consume depends on age, gender and the type of job you do. On average women should aim to consume 2000 calories, men 2500, children aged 5-10 1800, girls 11-14 1850 and boys 11-14 need 2200. Although these are averages, sports people and those who are employed in more physically demanding jobs, such as labouring, require a higher intake of food as they burn more energy.
Too much food can lead cause obesity, leading to health issues such as diabeties, strokes, cancer and heart disease. Health issues such as these are more common in high income countries (HICs). To little food can also have a negative impact on health and well-being including stunted growth, eye problems, diabetes and heart disease. Although not limited to low-income countries, these conditions are more common in less developed regions.
Water is needed for a range of reasons. Humans need to drink water to survive. Water is also needed for washing, to dispose of waste, in industry and manufacturing. The average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water a day. Only 4% of this is used for drinking. In the UK 75% of water is used by industry.
Energy is used in many ways. It heats our homes, is used to manufacture goods, process food and power transport. Energy use varies depending on where people live and how wealthy (rich) they are. In the past energy has come from burning wood and fossil fuels such as oil and coal. A fossil fuel is a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms. Nowadays, a higher proportion of energy comes from renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished.
Pressure on the supply of resources will increase as the world’s population grows. The rate of growth can cause significant problems as the supply of resources will become increasingly challenging to meet demand. One of the most significant issues is the unequal distribution and consumption of resources.
An overview of global inequalities in the supply and consumption of resources
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