When you think of HVACR, you probably think of heating and air conditioning. You may also think of refrigeration but certainly not as the answer to the problem of world hunger. However, those with HVACR training can help fight global hunger in developing countries keep fresh food on the table. The technology is there and forward-thinking professionals are needed to implement solutions.
A Growing Planet and a Hungry Population
Our planet isn’t getting bigger but our population is. Modern Farmer predicts that by 2050, there will be some 9 billion people on the planet. That’s a significant increase from the current estimated 7.3 billion people. National Geographic estimates that some 805 million people go hungry every day. Many of them live in less industrialized countries that have problems growing and storing food in climates that aren’t conducive to either. The New York Times states that Africa has seen a rise in crop production due to technological advances, only to have that bounty destroyed by spoilage, insects, and other pests.
How Much Food Is Wasted?
Nearly 50 percent of food the world produces is wasted. In the United States, even with our technology, some 40 percent of crops end up in the garbage because of spoilage. Also, many people will not eat produce that does not look perfect although they are edible and end up in a pile to go to the landfill and not the plate.
Food spoilage harms humans and the environment. When you account for growing, shipping, packaging, and other handling, the process of producing food creates more than 3.3 million tons of carbon. That’s a huge waste and a drain on our resources. Growing all of that food requires a lot of water which is becoming a limited resource.
Why HVACR Is Essential
HVACR plays an important role in keeping food fresh and ready for consumption. From the moment the produce is harvested or the meat cut, it will need to go into cold rooms where it can remain fresh while awaiting shipment. Shipment has to be in refrigerated containers to prevent food from spoiling. Lastly, the stores must have refrigerated cases where the food can stay cold to prevent spoilage. Referred to as “the cold chain,” this system requires a network of support, from the electricity to power the equipment to the men and women who maintain and repair the machines.
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By working toward providing proper refrigeration at every step of the food chain from harvest to market, HVACR can help reduce and even prevent food spoilage.
The Question of the Cold Chain in Developing Countries
One of the problems facing engineers is how to provide the cold chain to countries where a good portion of the population has no electricity. For example, 70 percent of those who live in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have the necessary electricity to keep their food cold. The other issue is that burning fossil fuels to produce more electricity contributes to climate change—something no one wants.
The problem that the infrastructure for the energy source must not be too expensive to install and maintain. Solar energy, wind power, and cryogenic energy storage are some of the options that may work to expand the global cold chain, but implementation of these technologies takes time and requires resources.
Right now there is a need for innovation when it comes to providing the cold chain to countries that need it most. HVACR experts and engineers are looking for cost-effective, sustainable solutions. Are you interested in joining the fight against world hunger? The more people who are thinking about these issues create a better chance at solving them. Contact The Refrigeration School to learn more about starting on the path to a rewarding career in HVACR.