HOUGHTON — The National Science Foundation is sponsoring a workshop at Michigan Technological University on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 and 17, to explore some of the most compelling issues of our time centering on the basics of life: food, energy, water and climate.
What’s best for the environment — and for sustaining life on our changing planet — isn’t always obvious. There are tradeoffs. For example, seawater desalination is a solution for dwindling fresh water supplies. But it takes a lot of energy to produce it, and the brine waste has to go somewhere. Agriculture can feed the hungry. But in the larger picture of whole-Earth health, how land use and crop production practices affect greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to water pollution and shortages, must also be considered.
The Michigan Tech Food-Energy-Water Nexus Workshop will bring together more than 30 scientists from universities and research centers around the wrold, along with 30 Michigan Tech researchers, from a wide range of disciplines. They’ll study how climate change is affected by Food, Energy and Water, or FEW, systems. The goal of the workshop is to provide the National Science Foundation with recommendations for future research programs. To do that, visiting and resident Michigan Tech scientists will identify gaps in understanding that could affect FEW conservation and climate change mitigation strategies and come up with recommendations for scientific studies that can close those gaps.