Catherine Gautier, Jean-Louis Fellous

Have We Run Out of Petrol? Publication date : November 6, 2008

Global problems related to the interaction of humans with their environment are multiplying: climatic upheaval, oil crisis, energy policies that are too lenient on carbon emissions, limited availability of fresh water, extended and frequently insidious pollution of water sources, means of transport that emit greenhouse gases, the impact of biofuels on world food supplies, the rapid increase of the world's population. Not to mention all the associated economic problems. Many natural resources are running out at a time when demand, driven by an increasing population and fast-growing world economy, is rising rapidly. Every sign indicates that many resources are close to total depletion: soon there will be severe water and food shortages, no petrol, and, at best, greatly diminished resources.

Since all these problems aggravate one another, the general situation deteriorates. The convergence and interconnection of all these problems constitute an immense challenge for every country — whether developed or developing.

Drastic measures are urgently required. If they are not undertaken, the interconnected problems will threaten the future of our civilisation. The time has come to make some very difficult decisions and to implement major reforms.

This book examines the interconnections linking energy, water and food, in the context of climate change, and explores the various possible ways of overcoming the problems they generate. The authors' aim is to provide information to help the public prepare for the great global upheaval that is underway and to understand why everyone must learn to adapt quickly to the rapid changes in society. They hope to mobilise minds and action, so human beings can finally take charge of their destiny and preserve a much-damaged planet.

Jean-Louis Fellous is a Coordinator for the European Space Agency's programmes on Earth Observation for Climate, Environment and Security. He is the executive secretary of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and co-president of the international Joint Commission for Oceanographic and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM).

Catherine Gautier has taught in the Geography Department of the University of California at Santa Barbara since 1990; she was the director of the Institute for Computational Earth System Science from 1996 to 2002.

Fellous and Gautier are co-editors of Facing Climate Change Together (2007).