A new tool maps the journey of food, energy an water resources in every region throughout the United States in an effort to help to make the systems that deliver these goods and services more accessible and resilient. The tool, called FEW-View, is part of the larger FEWSION nexus system research project based in Northern Arizona University, with support from National Science Foundation and USDA and the research of many other other scientists outside of NAU. The research project is led by Dr. Benjamin Ruddell and Dr. Richard Rushforth.
The tool and corresponding research shows that a person’s consumption of food, energy and water goes well beyond their local area and connects them, as the researchers write, around the “globe to distant ecosystems, through vast networks of production and transportation that are called supply chains.” They go on to write that
“These supply chains have grown piece-by-piece—sometimes planned, sometimes not—into our current global network. Supply chains cross over political boundaries, mountain ranges, and oceans, making us interdependent on one another. And in our modern supply chains, events in one area—from weather disasters to individual buying decisions—can have a butterfly effect on the system as a whole, and often in unexpected ways.”
FEW-View is well worth checking to see how resources arrive to a person’s doorstep. There are also preset scenarios that illustrate how these nexus systems tie to rest of the US, like how California’s Central Valley agricultural hub provides so much food and produce to the rest of the country. As the researchers note, the “FEW systems form an interdependent triangle, creating a nexus that connects policy decisions, consumer choice, land use, emergency management, and environmental resources. This connectivity means that nearly everyone alive today, no matter how remote, is part of the same network of connecting FEW systems.” [American Scientist]