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In: The global possible: resources, development, and the new century, edited by Robert Repetto. New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Press, 1985. 255-98. (World Resources Institute Book)Everyone uses fresh water. Water is the most used substance by industry. Even though industry only makes up 5-10% of current worldwide water use, it contributes a disproportionate amount of toxic contaminants to the water supply. The most important socioeconomic factors of municipal water demand are household income and size. Agricultural demand is the single largest demand for water. In the US, it makes up 83% of annual total water consumption. Water demand has resulted in some of the world's biggest construction and weather modification projects which greatly alter basic ecosystems. Multinational institutions such as the World Bank and the International Development Association support most of these projects in developing countries. We have abused water perhaps more than any other resource. These abuses have caused considerable adverse effects. For example, after farmers in Africa and Asia began irrigating fields, many people fell ill with schistomosiasis. Other waterborne diseases include typhoid fever and diarrheal diseases. Investments in water supplies as well as in wastewater treatment are needed to improve public health. The largest consumers of fresh water in the world are those countries with the largest populations (49% of the world's population) and largest total land area (32% of the this area): China, India, the US, and the USSR. These 4 countries have 61-70% of the world's total irrigated land, but China and India have most of it (54%). Most US water expenditures are for water pollution control. The US has a very efficient agricultural system but the efficiency is technical rather than economic. Most water expenditures in the USSR and India are for irrigation. China spends most of its water resource funds on irrigation and drainage systems. All countries in the world should conduct a rational analysis of fresh water uses, implement rational water pricing policies to conserve water use, and stabilize water supplies such as capturing surface runoff.
In: Resources, environment, and population: present knowledge, future options, edited by Kingsley Davis and Mikhail S. Bernstam. New York, New York/Oxford, England, Oxford University Press, 1991. 25-43. (Population and Development Review. Vol. 16. Supplement)Sustainable development is a relatively new economic term in the common vocabulary. Above all it is important to realize the critical difference between growth and development. In the past growth has been viewed as the ideal and as such all our economic measuring systems are based upon it. However, measuring the circular flow of exchange value makes it impossible to take into account the effect upon the environment that growth has. This old method was suitable in the past because of a misperception that growth is unlimited. A better way of measuring economics is to examine the entropic throughout of matter/energy. This system of measurement is consistent with the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics and consistent with the fact that we live in a finte world with finite resources. Thus, the old system only measures the scale but not the allocation of resources and per capita consumption. While the independence of allocation from distribution is widely known, the independence of allocation from scale is not. No matter how large the population or per capita consumption rate, an optimal allocation will be found for every scale. Yet measuring scale is of critical importance. If a ship is overloaded, it does not matter how evenly distributed the load is, it will sink. Some method must be devised and implemented which will keep economic scale within the limits of ecological carrying capacity. Achieving sustainable development will require some rethinking and a change of priority. Thus, qualitative improvement could be labeled development, and quantitative improvements could be labeled growth. Thus a steady state economy could continue to develop without growing. This is how planet Earth operates and economics is just another open system that must be allowed to develop without growing.