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Implications: North America

The North American region is one of the world's least densely populated and consists of just two countries, both advanced industrial economies undergoing a transition to more information-based systems. Both have relatively long records of environmental management. For these reasons, more than perhaps any other region, the environmental impacts of the four scenarios on this region are reflected as much in its influence on inter-regional and global issues. A more internationally engaged North America, as in the worlds of Policy First and Sustainability First, has a strikingly positive effect on environmental impacts at a global level and in other regions. Similarly, a North America that is only engaged at an economic level, as in a world of Markets First, or with only selected groups in other regions, as in a Security First world, has big and often negative impacts.

Environmental impacts still occur within the region, however, and these vary between scenarios. This section takes a look at a number of these in the areas of the atmosphere, urban areas, water stress, land degradation, land-based biodiversity and coastal and marine areas. The specific issue of potential water stress in the mid-continent and its wider repercussions is explored in the box.