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Published 16 December 2020
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Feed the world

In our last issue we featured an article outlining current research into sea level rise and its likely effects in New Zealand and another offering ideas for reuse of old unwanted tyres. While our interest as engineers is focussed on the fun jobs associated with engineering works for the design and construction of coastal erosion/protection and landfills, the companion elephant in the room is population growth and all it associated implications for feeding, watering and sheltering increasing numbers of people and handling their waste. While New Zealand seems to be relatively isolated from these issues in the foreseeable future, this situation will not last forever. So what do we as engineers do about it??? 

Over the next decades mankind will demand more food from fewer land and water resources. Pressure on land and water supply will come from not only population growth, but also from technological change, forestry and agricultural demands and economic development. Population growth will increase food demand and, therefore, the demand for agricultural land, while increased agricultural intensity due to population growth will increase land degradation over time. And we will still be mining minerals and aggregates (and coal and oil). At the same time, along the coasts of many countries, productive and residential/industrial land will be lost to the oceans. Plus we will continue to generate increasingly large volumes of waste to dispose of – where???  Meanwhile, man will continue to overfish the seas and fill them with plastic.  That wonderful stuff has only been around since the 1950’s and look at the adverse effects it is
now having!

But its not all bad. Society and world leaders (with a few prominent exceptions) now recognise that warming caused by greenhouse gasses is occurring across the globe and are facing up to its implications and effects. In this issue we continue to share the thoughts of key players working here in New Zealand.  Our Feature Paper by Ross Roberts describes climate change effects where they have overlaps with geotechnical design and hazard assessment (with particular reference to Auckland as an example), discusses the impact that these changes are expected to have on geotechnical engineering practice in the coming years and decades, and presents a framework for managing these in the design processes.

Your responsibility as geotechnical professionals is to actively involve yourself in, and contribute positively to, the changes that are here and those that are on the way. Good for it!


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Issue 100
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ISSN 0111-6851