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Abstract

Ai-Hua, Long, Xu Zhong-Min, Wang Xin-Hua, Shang-Hai-Yang. 2006.“Impacts of population, affluence and technology on water footprinting in China

Growing evidence demonstrated that humans have dramatically altered the global environment. Identifying the specific forces driving environmental impacts is a hot topic in the field of sustainable development. One key limitation to a precise understanding of anthropogenic impacts is the absence of a set of refined analytic tools.

The water footprint index has been used as a comprehensive impact measure of water use in relation to consumption of people, which indirectly reflect anthropogenic pressure on the environment. Our empirical analysis show that the China's water footprint of China is 7678.45×108 in 2000, which is 609.3m3/(cap•a). The measure of water footprint allows comparison across types of impacts by estimating the quantity of water that would be required to support the material consumption of a nation or country. The difference between provinces (cities) is large: Qinghai province who has an average water footprint of 999 m3/(cap•a) is the largest one, while Guangxi province has the lowest average water footprint, which is 477 m3/(cap•a).

With a view to dismantling the anthropogenic driving forces of water footprint, the modified IPAT-called STIRPAT [STochastic Impacts by Regression on Population(P), Affluence(A) and Technology (T)] - has been employed as a common analytic framework. Since T represents all factors that influence impacts other than population and affluence, the additional factors can be incorporated in the STIRPAT by disaggregating T in the original IPAT identity. Our analyses show that population is a major driver of water footprint, and it has a proportional effect (approximately unitary elasticity) on water footprint, and affluence monotonically increased the water footprint with a relative less degree than population. Natural location and climatic conditions appeared to affect the water footprint. Another important finding in the empirical study is that there is no evidence of an environmental Kuznets curve for water footprint within the range of calculated data. Some potential improvements in some further researches and suggestions to alleviate the water pressure were put forward in the last section.

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