Liquid assets: How demographic changes and water management policies affect freshwater resources. Summary.
Demographic factors play an important role in environmental change, along with biophysical, economic, sociopolitical, technological, and cultural factors, all of which are interrelated. Recent demographic trends have sparked concern about the impact of the human population on a critical element of the natural environment - fresh water. In the last 70 years, the world's population has tripled in size while going from overwhelmingly rural to a near balance of urban and rural - a change that affects both how humans use water and the amount they consume. In the late 1980s, concern over a potential water crisis began to grow. Much of the resulting literature has taken an alarmist view. Numerous reports sensationalized the so-called water crisis without talking into account the local or regional nature of water resources and the relationship between supply and demand. A number of factors are cited to support the position that the earth is headed toward a water crisis. They include the following: the human population continues to grow; water withdrawals are outpacing population growth; per-capita water availability is declining; clean, potable water is less available worldwide. (excerpt)