Number of the Day: 9% of the World's Fresh Water


Photo: Flickr, CC
9% -- The average withdrawal of fresh water by humans around the globe. This breaks down to 8.4% in North-America, 18.1% in Asia, 6.4% in Europe, 2% in Latin America, and 5.6% in Africa, according to the UN World Water Development Report from 2000.

1,664 -- That's how many cubic meters of water that the average North-American uses in a year, the highest amount per person in the world by far. In second place is Asia with 644 cubic meters. The world average is 626 cubic meters of water per person/year.


Photo: Flickr, CC
1,000 -- That's how many liters of water it takes to grow a kilogram of wheat. That might seem a lot, but...

15,000 -- That's how many liters of water it takes to get a kilogram of beef. The meaty diet of most North-Americans and Europeans uses around 5,000 liters of water a day, while they use around 100-250 liters to drink and wash. If you want to reduce your water consumption, think about what you eat.

70-80% -- Agriculture uses around 70-80% of the water used by humans. If you look at it from the glass-half-full (no pun intended) angle, you'll find that the use of water for agriculture in most places is very inefficient, so big gains could easily be made.

30% -- Just changing irrigation practices can improve water efficiency by 30%, and more than that is probably possible by using techniques developed in countries that don't get much rain (Israel, etc).

9 Billion -- Trade can also help. The US is about twice as water-efficient as Mexico when it comes to growing cereals. So when Mexico imports cereals from the US, it is also "saving" water. This is estimated to be 9 billion cubic meters of water for the US-Mexico trade.

Via The Economist
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