Water Ethics: Foundational Readings for Students and Professionals

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $9.95
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 71%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $9.95   
  • New (5) from $24.78   
  • Used (5) from $9.95   

Overview

Having manipulated water for irrigation, energy, and burgeoning urban centers, humans are facing the reality that although fresh water is renewable, it is as finite as any other resource. Countries, states, and cities are now scrambling to develop an intelligent, well-informed approach to mitigate the growing global water crisis. Water Ethics is based on the belief that responding to contemporary water problems requires attending to questions of value and culture. How should we capture, store, and distribute water? At what cost? For whom? How do we reconcile water’s dual roles as a practical resource and spiritual symbol?  
According to the editors of this collection of foundational essays, questions surrounding water are inherently ethical. Peter Brown and Jeremy Schmidt contend that all approaches to managing water, no matter how grounded in empirical data, involve value judgments and cultural assumptions. Each of the six sections of the book discuses a different approach to thinking about the relationship between water and humanity, from utilitarianism to eco-feminism to religious beliefs, including Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. Contributors range from Bartholemew, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church to Nobel Laureate economist Elinor Ostrom and water policy expert Sandra Postel. Each section is framed by an original introductory essay written by the editors. 
Water Ethics will help readers understand how various moral perspectives, even when unstated, have guided and will continue to guide water policy around the globe.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Water Resources Association
"I was fully engaged—heart and mind—as I read Water Ethics. For me, some of the philosophies expressed have moved me to action...I am glad that I read Water Ethics and I would not hesitate suggesting it to my colleagues...an emotional component espoused by Water Ethics is lacking in a purely reductionist view of water."
Water Alternatives
"[...] through offering this complex set of thoughful if sometimes mutually discordant essays, and in sewing them together with introductory remarks and the concluding chapter, the editors have defined a messy frontier where cultural values (ethics) manifest in water policies. More than delineating that frontier, Brown and Schmidt help us understand how that frontier has developed, how it seems to be changing (some signs of hope here), and where they think we need to go (compassionate retreat). For these reasons, this book is an invaluable addition to the set of resources available to water managers, policymakers, researchers, activists, and the residual category of 'concerned citizens.'"
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
"Peter G. Brown and Jeremy J. [Schmidt] have taken upon themselves the challenge of putting ethics on the agenda of water experts (be it professionals or students). ...the book presents an invitation for applied philosophers (be it social, political, or moral philosophers) to join social scientists in developing an ethics of water governance. For ethicists, it is the challenge to go beyond traditional environmental ethics and to develop an ethics that does justice to the particularities of water. This book sets a modest first step for exploring this new terrain."
Chair, Canadian Initiative United Nations Water for Life Decade - Robert Sandford
"The way we are currently managing our global water resources has created a crisis. This important compendium goes a long way toward making sense of the often contradictory contemporary opinions on how to achieve sustainability. It proves that we must reconcile the ethics that drove water management decisions in the past with moral principles that respect ecosystems and future human life."
Journal of the American Water Resources Association - Kevin J. Spelts

"I was fully engaged - heart and mind - as I read Water Ethics. For me, some of the philosophies expressed have moved me to action...I am glad that I read Water Ethics and I would not hesitate suggesting it to my colleagues...an emotional component espoused by Water Ethics is lacking in a purely reductionist view of water."
Water Alternatives - David Groenfeldt

[...] through offering this complex set of thoughful if sometimes mutually discordant essays, and in sewing them together with introductory remarks and the concluding chapter, the editors have defined a messy frontier where cultural values (ethics) manifest in water policies. More than delineating that frontier, Brown and Schmidt help us understand how that frontier has developed, how it seems to be changing (some signs of hope here), and where they think we need to go (compassionate retreat). For these reasons, this book is an invaluable addition to the set of resources available to water managers, policymakers, researchers, activists, and the residual category of 'concnerned citizens.'
Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture - Gary L. Chamberlain

"As we move into the next decade of the new twenty-first century, perhaps no other issue will stamp its imprint on our consciousness as much as the global water crisis...Editors Brown and Schmidt have assembled eighteen essays that span one hundred years of ethical reflections on water, from 1909 to 2009, including their own carefully crafted concluding essay. The book is arranged as a chronology of understandings surrounding water ethics, understandings that have driven water policies and practices. The reader, then, is able to move through developments as they occurred in light of previous approaches. At the same time, the book spans a wide variety of philosophical and theological approaches...Although there is no one particular ethic that emerges in these collective writings, Water Ethics offers a glimpse of a major revolution in thinking about water and water issues. In addition to the general principles and philosophical arguments developed in the book, several authors utilize case studies to support and illustrate their positions. As the subtitle of Water Ethics indicates, these writings are not meant for a casual reader but are directed at students and professionals who work with water concerns. These concerns will certainly intensify in the next decades, and therefore, Water Ethics is a critical resource for current and forthcoming debates."
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics - Neelke Doorn

"Peter G. Brown and Jeremy J. Smith [Schmidt] have taken upon themselves the challenge of putting ethics on the agenda of water experts (be it professionals or students). ...the book presents an invitation for applied philosophers (be it social, political, or moral philosophers) to join social scientists in developing an ethics of water governance. For ethicists, it is the challenge to go beyond traditional environmental ethics and to develop an ethics that does justice to the particularities of water. This book sets a modest first step for exploring this new terrain."
Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics
"This book sets a modest first step for exploring this new terrain."
Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics, Seattle University - Gary Chamberlain
"Peter Brown and Jeremy Schmidt have provided a timely, major contribution to the evolving study of water ethics. Readers will find seminal articles on a wide range of topics, from water resource management to property, rights, and policy priorities. Provocative and challenging, Water Ethics is a necessary read for guidance on water ethics and indeed the general human/nature debates currently shaping key policies."
Nature and Culture Journal for the Study of Religion
"As we move into the next decade of the new twenty-first century, perhaps no other issue will stamp its imprint on our consciousness as much as the global water crisis...Editors Brown and Schmidt have assembled eighteen essays that span one hundred years of ethical reflections on water, from 1909 to 2009, including their own carefully crafted concluding essay. The book is arranged as a chronology of understandings surrounding water ethics, understandings that have driven water policies and practices. The reader, then, is able to move through developments as they occurred in light of previous approaches. At the same time, the book spans a wide variety of philosophical and theological approaches...Although there is no one particular ethic that emerges in these collective writings, Water Ethics offers a glimpse of a major revolution in thinking about water and water issues. In addition to the general principles and philosophical arguments developed in the book, several authors utilize case studies to support and illustrate their positions. As the subtitle of Water Ethics indicates, these writings are not meant for a casual reader but are directed at students and professionals who work with water concerns. These concerns will certainly intensify in the next decades, and therefore, Water Ethics is a critical resource for current and forthcoming debates."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597265652
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 1/27/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 818,338
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter G. Brown is a Professor in the Departments of Natural Resource Sciences, Geography, and School of the Environment at McGill University. He is author of Restoring the Public Trust and The Commonwealth of Life: Economics for a Flourishing Earth, and coauthor of Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy.

Jeremy J. Schmidtis aPhD candidate and Trudeau Scholar in the Department of Geography at the University of Western Ontario.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Water Ethics

Foundational Readings for Students and Professionals


By Peter G. Brown, Jeremy J. Schmidt

ISLAND PRESS

Copyright © 2010 Island Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59726-876-9



CHAPTER 1

Water Ethics and Water Management

Jeremy J. Schmidt


WATER IS ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE, yet we have no systematic way to think about its value. For years water was considered as renewable as sunlight or wind, and the potential for its development seemed limitless. Now, having manipulated water for irrigation, energy, and burgeoning urban centers, we face the reality that although freshwater is renewable, it is as finite as many other resources. It is now imperative to develop a cogent, grounded approach toward water management to curtail the growing, global water crisis.

The lack of such a strategy for managing water has meant that it is often used callously, carelessly, and without regard to ethical concerns. For instance, over the last fifty years 3,300 dams in India have inundated vast land areas and displaced an estimated 40 million people. In Australia, the effects of severe drought have been exacerbated by reliance on infrastructure designed to increase water supply. Between 1975 and 1997, Perth received 14% less rainfall than the 20th century average but saw a 48% reduction in reservoir levels. From 1998 to 2006 rainfall managed just 48% of the 20th century average and reservoir levels dropped by 66%. In both cases, entire watersheds have been manipulated based on beliefs regarding what ought to be done with water. Yet both instances failed to follow these manipulations through to their normative consequences for, respectively, displaced people or long-term sustainability.

Responding to contemporary water problems requires attending to questions of value. How should we capture, store, or distribute water? At what cost? For whom? And for how long? Further, these questions are inherently ethical because, as with any essential resource, determining a fair and just distribution of water has direct effects on human and nonhuman lives and the systems that sustain them. Despite the layered, interwoven nature of water use decisions and ethical values, moral questions have received comparatively little attention in the decision-making frameworks that dominate water policy and management. As such, this book looks explicitly at ethical issues regarding water. It begins by clarifying the connection between water and ethics, and showing how ethical considerations are unavoidable in water management decisions. This introduction ends by outlining the book's structure, content, and rationale for a systematic evaluation of water's value. The principal purpose of the book is to provide an overview of the emerging field of water ethics by drawing on representative points of view regarding ethical issues with respect to water.


What Is a Water Ethic?

Ethics deals with problems that arise in disagreements regarding what ought to be done.

These disagreements may arise in at least three areas:


1. Claims about facts or states of affairs, such as those about adequate water quantity or quality—because we need to know what we mean by "adequate"

2. Claims about correctly ordered social relationships, such as whether water should be allocated according to economics or on the basis of factors such as human rights or rights to property or healthy ecosystems

3. Claims about personal experiences, such as water's significance to people of a particular culture or belief.


Given water's pervasiveness and its necessity for life, these three types of disagreements often overlap; one person may float a gift down a river, believing it to be part of healthy spiritual and biophysical renewal. Another may view this same act as pollution. Thus a water ethic is best defined broadly, as a normative framework guiding actions that affect water.

The last two decades have witnessed a global movement by water policy experts to connect ethics and water. In 1997, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO's) World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) initiated investigations into the use of freshwater. The subsequent COMEST report was organized around three themes: (1) a sense of shared purpose and harmony with nature, (2) a balance between traditional human values and technological innovation, and (3) harmony between "the sacred and utilitarian in water, between the rational and the emotional." In 2004, UNESCO published a series of fourteen essays that were initially produced to provide input into the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto in 2003. The overview essay for this "Water and Ethics" series argues that two central problems confront a water ethic: (1) finding an appropriate scale for an ethic and (2) respecting value differences among individuals, groups, and society. In 2007, the 3rd Marcelino Botin Foundation Water Workshop was held in Santander (Spain) where water experts focused on the manifold ways in which ethics and water are critically linked to issues of water management, economics, and poverty (among others).

The rise of ethical discourse in global water policy networks has already led to a key debate regarding how a water ethic fits with other normative claims. From one perspective, a water ethic may be viewed as another aspect of existing concerns over the value of nature or regulating best management practices in natural resource policy. In this case, establishing a water ethic is similar to debates in environmental philosophy and applied ethics insofar as the aim is to provide an evaluative framework that prescribes correct behavior. An alternate view argues that the long history of religious myths, legal mores, and social institutions means that a water ethic does not fit well within the neatly defined categories used in other debates or disciplines. To date, global policy discourse on water ethics takes the latter view. For instance, the COMEST report appeals to several principles that often compete with one another in environmental philosophy such as intrinsic value, equality, the common good, stewardship, and economic pricing. It is difficult to predict how, or whether, this debate will be resolved but here it is worthwhile to note the divergent and influential sources of the water ethics discourse in order to understand some of the different perspectives of water policy experts, academics, and philosophers.

Regardless of whether we think of a water ethic as its own distinctive area of concern or as an instance of more general debates, our water use decisions have real consequences for both human and nonhuman lives. And if we are to support our decisions we must offer reasons. One logical question may arise: If we have good reasons for our water use decisions, is it possible to avoid talking about ethics altogether? The next section shows why ethical judgments are unavoidable, even when we have well-developed, rational frameworks for water use decisions.


Ethics and Water Management

The field of water and environmental management is concerned with the actual decisions made regarding resource allocation and use. Hence resource managers seek to understand the characteristics of particular problems in order to clearly define what may count as a solution. By looking within this process, it is evident that water management frameworks unavoidably make a number of ethical judgments. So, while this section focuses on the concepts of integrated water resources management and adaptive management, it is important to bear in mind that any decision-making framework requires value judgments regarding how to define and resolve problems. It should be noted that the management approaches discussed here are not the only ones that exist, nor are they necessarily the best ones. Rather, they were chosen because they are extremely influential conceptual frameworks and because their underlying concepts offer interesting examples of how rational decision making, in itself, does not obviate the need for ethical judgment.


Integrated Water Resources Management

The concept of integrated water resources management (IWRM) dominates the global discourse in water management. Though its precursors extend back centuries, the modern history of IWRM has been traced to Spain, where in the 1920s water managers began using river basins as the natural unit for decisions. Similarly, North American water managers increasingly promoted the coordinated development of water projects for multiple uses through institutions such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was created in the 1930s. From the 1960s onward, increasing attention was given to the social and environmental consequences of water development, with a push to manage both within a single system of decision making. As IWRM ascended to a global policy phenomenon in the 20th century, it developed three core agendas: (1) the integration of "cross-sectoral" concerns from agriculture, industry, and urban uses; (2) the evaluation of water's full ecological, economic, and social value; and (3) the promotion of decision making at scales appropriate to coordination and resolution of water-related concerns. Given IWRM's wide ambit, defining it in succinct terms has proven problematic. Nonetheless, an oft-cited definition was offered by the Global Water Partnership's Technical Advisory Committee, which defines IWRM as,


a process which promotes the co-ordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.


Ethical Judgments in IWRM

Defining the normative position of IWRM began in 1977 at the United Nations Conference on Water in Mar del Plata. There, policy experts argued that explicitly normative attitudes were responsible for the undervalued, fragmented approach to water management. They held that these attitudes were regarded as antiquated, subjective, and (thereby) incapable of meeting the demands of industrial society. Accordingly, IWRM practitioners made the first order of business the establishment of objective facts and a rational planning framework the two pillars for correcting the inequitable distribution of water.

However, IWRM's attempt to provide an impartial description of the type of management needed to meet water demands harbors implicit ethical content. For instance, the evaluation of the world's water as "inequitably distributed" is itself an evaluative standard. Inequitable based on what? Is it the human settlement pattern that is the problem? or the distribution of water on Earth? Without asking these questions a new agenda was established for integrating different water uses such that the greatest benefits could be achieved for industrial society. Thus, despite the pretense of objectivity, IWRM makes normative judgments about facts and the current state of affairs in global water distribution.

IWRM also makes judgments about correctly ordered social relationships. At a second conference in Dublin in 1992, water experts met to prepare a statement in preparation for the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The principles of the Dublin Statement read as follows:

1. Freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development, and the environment.

2. Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners, and policy makers at all levels.

3. Women play a central role in the provision, management, and safeguarding of water.

4. Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good.


In these four principles it is evident that correctly ordered relationships involve numerous factors such as economics, gender, development, and participation. Yet it is not clear how value neutral (if at all) any of these categories are. We may ask, Development for whom? Which women play a central role in safeguarding water? Why does water have an economic value in all of its competing uses? Could it not also have spiritual or social value? Here we see that the attempt to establish value neutral principles does not escape making certain moral judgments regarding water. Importantly, and as works in this volume show, these principles themselves rely on their fit with scientific, legal, and ethical norms for their plausibility.


Problems with the Ethic of IWRM

It is clear that IWRM makes certain ethical judgments about the world's water and how social relationships should be ordered. These judgments may be critically assessed from several vantage points. First, we may disagree with how the world's water resources are connected with ethical obligations. The claimed "inequitable distributions" may in fact not be the central problem; perhaps it is the location or relative water demand of certain types of human societies. Second, we may contest definitions of correctly ordered social relationships, such as those of economics, for failing to give place and weight to other forms of social order such as community-based management. Third, we may question how well modern ideas of human equality and market transactions fit with the long-established customs of religions such as Islam, Hinduism, or Christianity.

Consequently, though integration may appear a neutral term, there are in fact numerous ethical judgments within IWRM. Defenses of these judgments, however, are in short supply within IWRM theory, which has yet to offer substantive justification for its ethical assumptions.


Adaptive Management

While IWRM dominates global water discourse, the concept of adaptive management is gaining prominence in North America and on the world stage. Born out of insights from ecology in the 1970s, adaptive management theorists were very concerned with the top-down, command-and-control style of environmental governance at the time. A cause for concern was the underlying assumption of stability in early water management and environmental regulation. For instance, the large projects that reengineered entire watersheds for flood control or irrigation were criticized because they assumed that the natural variations of rivers, such as 50- or 100-year floods, were predictable and stable. In fact, claimed adaptive managers, ecological systems are in constant flux, and polices that encourage human control over nature are more susceptible to changing environmental conditions.

In adaptive management, assumptions of stability are replaced with an attitude that management practices are experimental attempts to learn about evolving social and ecological systems. Working from the idea of change, the key to success in adaptive management is the preservation of relationships, and the processes, functions, and feedbacks in social and ecological systems that support complexity and which increase the system's ability to absorb and recover from disturbances. This is what is referred to as resilience. By increasing resilience, managers attempt to adapt to change and to strengthen relationships that are of particular value, such as those enabled by freshwater.

Understanding and increasing resilience also reduces the chance that surprise events and disturbances, such as flash floods or forest fires, will overwhelm the adaptive capacity of ecological systems. In less resilient systems these disturbances could flip entire systems and radically reorient the relationships therein. For example, increasing amounts of phosphorous in a lake could flip it into a process of eutrophication. Likewise, deforestation could change a rain forest to a savanna. Once systems move from one state to another, there is no guarantee that the original conditions, or even other forms of complex living systems, can be regained.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Water Ethics by Peter G. Brown, Jeremy J. Schmidt. Copyright © 2010 Island Press. Excerpted by permission of ISLAND PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Water Ethics and Water Management Jeremy J. Schmidt 3

Part 2 Dominion and the Human Claim to Water 17

Chapter 2 Editors Introduction 19

Chapter 3 Byzantine Heritage His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 25

Chapter 4 Water Ethics Perspectives in the Arab Region Faraj Al-Awar Mohammad J. Abdulrazzak Radwan Al-Weshah 29

Chapter 5 Which Rights Are Right? Water Rights, Culture, and Underlying Values Rajendra Pradhan Ruth Meinzen-Dick 39

Chapter 6 Women, Water, Energy: An Ecofeminist Approach Greta Gaard 59

Part 3 Utilitarianism 77

Chapter 7 Editors' Introduction 79

Chapter 8 Water as a Resource William J. McGee 87

Chapter 9 Priming the Invisible Pump Terry L. Anderson Donald R. Leal 91

Chapter 10 Surface Water and Groundwater Regulation and Use: An Ethical Perspective Steven E. Kraft 105

Chapter 11 Understanding Transfers: Community Rights and the Privatization of Water Joseph L. Sax 117

Chapter 12 A Basis for Environmental Ethics Augustin Berque 125

Part 4 Water as a Community Resource 139

Chapter 13 Editors' Introduction 141

Chapter 14 Water Rights in the Commons Elinor Ostrom Paul C. Stern Thomas Dietz 147

Chapter 15 Encounters with the Moral Economy of Water: General Principles for Successfully Managing the Commons Paul Trawick 155

Chapter 16 The Legal Status of Water in Quebec Madeleine Cantin Cumyn 167

Chapter 17 The Rebirth of Environmentalism as Pragmatic, Adaptive Management Bryan G Norton 179

Part 5 Water: Life's Common Wealth 197

Chapter 18 Editors' Introduction 199

Chapter 19 Are There any Natural Resources? Peter G. Brown 203

Chapter 20 The Missing Piece: A Water Ethic Sandra Postel 221

Chapter 21 Fish First! the Changing Ethics of Ecosystem Management Carolyn Merchant 227

Part 6 Ethics in Complex Systems 241

Chapter 22 Editors' Introduction 243

Chapter 23 Ecohydrosolidarity: a New Ethics for Stewardship of Value-Adding Rainfall Malin Falkenmark Carl Folke 247

Chapter 24 An Ethic of Compassionate Retreat Peter G. Brown Jeremy J. Schmidt 265

Acknowledgments 287

Contributors 289

Advisory Board 293

Index 295

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)