Water Quality and Quantity: Globalization


Water is one of our most precious natural resources, covering nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface, but only 2.5% of the Earth’s water is fresh and suitable for consumption.!’! Thus, it is quite an understatement to say that freshwater is a scarce resource for the nearly 7 billion people living on Earth today.!2! Many nations around the world are currently ill equipped to deal with the demand for water. Nearly 1 billion people lack access to safe water.IИ The health and economic impacts of inaccessibility to water are staggering.

It is predicted that the problem will worsen with the increase in human population and the continued growth of the global economy. By 2050, the world population is expected to grow to more than 9 billion people, placing a strain on water utility systems around the world to meet the growing demand for the human consumption of water that is necessary for survival coupled with the need to utilize water as a tool of industry to maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.!3! Nations around the world must develop a coherent plan of action to deal with this problem. This entry discusses management issues related to water quality and quantity concerns that have occurred as a result of increased globalization. The purpose of discussing these issues is to mitigate water quality and quantity concerns that can have an adverse effect on human health and the environment on a global scale.

The results of globalization have created an international environment whereby economic integration is essential. Since World War II, the global trend toward greater interdependence among nation-states in the exchange of goods, services, and investments has accelerated. Much of this growth can be attributed to transnational corporations who have used technology to capitalize on expanding trade partnerships and exchanges. This increased international trade has led to an increase in global production, which has placed a strain on the environment. With regard to global water resources, urbanization led to heavy exploitation due to major advances in geological knowledge, well drilling, pump technology, and rural electrification. Given these circumstances, it is becoming increasingly important to put issues such as water quality and quantity in a global context.

The environment, water, and food production are closely interrelated at the international, local, and regional levels. Water is the major limiting factor for world agricultural production and implicitly tied to global food production.141 As the human population continues to swell, food production will hinge on the ability to manage, preserve, and enhance global water resources.

Throughout the world, freshwater is used for drinking, industrial production, irrigation, transportation, recreation, waste processing, hydroelectric power, and a habitat for aquatic life.151 Therefore, issues of contamination and local water depletion are intimately connected to the global economy. Increased global environmental trade, which increases the demand for “virtual” water, or water used to produce crops traded in international markets, can result in declines in water quality and quantity.161 This entry discusses these important water resource topics from a global environmental management perspective.

Globalization and Water Resources

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >