Socio-Economic Trend

Water Use

UNIT: Thousand km3

Irrigation for food production and other agriculture is one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for about 70% of global freshwater withdrawals and demand for meat drives up demand for water. In some places rivers do not supply enough water to meet demand. Societies come to rely on groundwater or “fossil water”. When fossil waters run dry they can take thousands of years to replenish.

Graph Caption: Global water use is the sum of irrigation, domestic, manufacturing and electricity water withdrawals from 1900 to 2010 and livestock water consumption from 1961 to 2010. The data are estimated using the WaterGAP model.
Source: M. Flörke, Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel; Flörke et al. 2013; aus der Beek et al. 2010; Alcamo et al. 2003.

Caption: Crop circles, Oklahoma, USA
Credit: Google/Landsat 7, NASA