The 2016 Food, Water, Energy and Climate Outlook continues a process, started in 2012 by the MIT Joint Program, of providing an annual update on the direction the planet is heading in terms of economic growth and its implications for resource use and the environment. To obtain an integrated look at food, water, energy and climate, as well as the oceans, atmosphere and land that comprise the Earth system, we use the MIT Integrated Global System Modeling (IGSM) framework. Consisting primarily of the Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model and the MIT Earth System Model (MESM), the IGSM is a linked set of computer models developed by the MIT Joint Program to analyze interactions among human and Earth systems.
This year we expand the Outlook to report on projected effects of climate change and other factors on crop yields and water resources, and challenges for global food and water availability. In addition, we examine the goal of stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases at levels consistent with targets identified in international negotiations. Achieving stabilization of concentrations at reasonable cost will most likely require significant advances in key technologies. For this year’s Outlook, we have invited guest contributors to offer perspectives on barriers to commercializing key energy technologies and systems, and the technological breakthroughs needed to make them technically and economically viable—as well as on major food and water challenges.