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  1. 1
    Peer Reviewed

    The effects of population on the depletion of fresh water.

    Wyman RJ

    Population and Development Review. 2013 Dec; 39(4):687-704.

    The most immediate environmental problem in major regions of the world is probably the scarcity of fresh water for agriculture. Insufficiency and irregularity of rainfall require the use of stored water. Both major compartments for fresh water storage -- glaciers and groundwater -- are being depleted rapidly and at similar rates. Drawdown of groundwater is primarily the result of irrigation required to supply the food needs of large populations. Glacier melt is an effect of global warming chiefly caused by high levels of industrial production and transport. However, an important fraction of glacier melt is caused by food chain emissions (agricultural greenhouse gases and black carbon or cooking soot). In toto, the loss of water resulting from food and agriculture may be significantly greater than that resulting from industrial production and transport, the factors more commonly cited. This suggests that the role of population, closely linked to food and agriculture, is central to the depletion of fresh water.
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  2. 2

    China's fickle rivers: dry farms, needy industry bring a water crisis.

    Tyler PE

    NEW YORK TIMES. 1996 May 23; 10.

    This paper concerns a water crisis and the impact it had on the lives of Chinese village peasants, who depended on the Yellow River for agriculture and industry. The crisis occurred when the government restricted the peasants from using the water from the Yellow River and only allowed the oil industry access to the water supply. This scenario was another indication of China's developing water crisis. The government favored the oil industry by declaring a state of emergency that forced farmers and factories to close sluice gates so that the water would reach Dongying, where the oil company was located. This bias was just one of the many problems that caused the water shortage. Chinese government scientists had predicted that the demand for Yellow River water would outstrip available supplies by 250 billion cu. feet in the year 2000, while the World Bank s assessment went beyond that of the scientists predicted value. Although China ranks 6th in the world in total water resources, at that time the abundant water resources were often found in the wrong places at the wrong time, so a shortage still occurred. Since the Yellow River is key to the people s survival in that region, the government planned a series of new dams to be built, which would control the flow of river water.
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  3. 3

    [The use of water: a critical focus on the population-environment-resources relationship] El uso del agua: un enfoque critico de la relacion poblacion-ambiente-recursos.

    Vargas Velazquez S

    PAPELES DE POBLACION. 1998 Jan-Mar; 4(15):177-92.

    The case of the Laja River basin in Mexico illustrates the argument that over exploitation of water resources must be analyzed in broader terms than mere population growth. The work begins with an examination of the persistence in Mexico of a Malthusian focus in works on the relationship between population growth and the carrying capacity of river basins. Theoretical focuses that include social, cultural, and economic characteristics as well as physical factors in definitions of environment assume a systemic perspective that makes possible examination of relations between regional social systems and natural systems. The Laja basin was selected for study because of its high degree of internal ecological diversity, wide variety of agricultural systems, and multiple conflicts over water use. In the past three decades, with introduction of deep well technology and policies to promote a cheap food supply, a dualist agricultural economy has developed in which large producers growing commercial and export crops coexist with subsistence farmers who have probably reduced their use of irrigation. The river basin is deteriorating due to over exploitation of all natural resources and rapid demographic growth stemming from regional industrialization. The region has arrived at critical limits in only a few years, with the local population little involved in the process. The case suggests that proposals to stem deterioration of water resources cannot rely solely on technical solutions, but must involve achievement of consensus between the parties involved.
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  4. 4

    Fresh water.

    Rogers PP

    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.
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  5. 5

    Population growth and policies in mega-cities: Mexico City.

    United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. Population Division

    New York, New York, United Nations, 1991. vi, 34 p. (Population Policy Paper No. 32; ST/ESA/SER.R/105)

    This review of elements affecting the population policy of Mexico City, the largest city in the world, is part of a series on formulation, implementation and evaluation of population policies of mega-cities as they follow the World Population Plan of Action of the UN World Population Conference, 1984. The main sections of the report are demographic factors and projections, economy, strategies of decentralization, issues and sectors, and resources and management. Mexico city is expected to have 27 million in 2000. Growth by migration accounts for doubling every 20 years, as natural increase declines. While Mexico City's economy has in recent decades grown because of industrial development, in the future increasing proportions of people will work in the informal sector. Air pollution, the worst documented in the world, due to photochemical smog, and traffic congestion are the city's most serious issues. These are being addressed by a contemplated retro-fit of automobiles with pollution control devices, state bus lines and a metro system. Decentralization has been approached by the National Urban Plan of 1978 and the National Development Plan of 1983-1988 among other efforts, but lack of a central authority, and the failure of the government to respond to the 1985 earthquake by relocating housing cost doubt of the likelihood of results. Counteracting systems such as subsidies for water, food electricity and diesel fuel for urban residents, and inadequate tax incentives for companies moving elsewhere are also in effect. Land speculation combined with illegal settlement of communal lands have hampered planning, but the earthquake cleared extensive areas for parks and low income apartments. Water supply is another major problem, with per capita usage equal to U.S. levels because of losses from the aging system. Health care and other services are allotted mainly on income lines because of political factors. Resources and regulation are in a pitched battle between the Federal District (the City) and Mexico State which soon will make up the majority of the population, but receives poorer services at greater expense relative to the City.
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