Measuring Environmental Impacts With the 'Water Footprint'

A Dutch hydrological engineer has developed a new way to measure the environmental impact of humans: the "water footprint".
August 28, 2009, 7am PDT | Nate Berg
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Arjen Hoekstra developed the idea recently, which tracks how much water people use and how much water is used to create the foods and products they consume.

"His equation is actually just a couple of numbers used to describe the amount of water that is used -- or polluted -- during the manufacture of various products. Anyone can calculate their water footprint by looking at the amount of water they use directly and then by looking at the amount of "virtual water" they use -- that is, how much water is used in the production of any goods they consume. The global average for an individual's water footprint is 1,243 cubic meters of water per year. In the US, this goes up to 2,483 cubic meters per year; in Germany it's 1,545 and in China, 702."

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Published on Thursday, August 27, 2009 in Der Spiegel
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