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Is the Planet Full?$
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Ian Goldin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199677771

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199677771.001.0001

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Water Scarcity on a Blue Planet

Water Scarcity on a Blue Planet

(p.121) 7 Water Scarcity on a Blue Planet
Is the Planet Full?

Mark New

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 explores the implications of continued population growth for water availability, particularly under the new stresses of climate change. Per capita water consumption mirrored population growth until 1945, and then increased sharply due to increased irrigation, urbanization, and expanding middle classes across the developed world. Since the 1980s, total demand has soared while per capita usage has declined, as behavioural change and government regulation have mitigated water stress in developed economies. In developing countries, meanwhile, the challenge continues to become more intense as income and population growth place growing stress on global water supplies and ecological balance. Climate change is predicted to make water scarcity ‘hotspots’ more widespread and more acute. The chapter concludes, however, that there is still hope: the virtual water trade; efficiency gains and water reuse; and a renewed drive for desalination powered by green energy, could ensure that there is adequate global water supply for generations to come, even if the planet is home to many more people.

Keywords:   water, water stress, water scarcity hotspots, climate change, population growth, virtual water trade, desalination

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