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Water is the economic, social, and physical lifeblood of humanity, providing the bases for agriculture, industry, transportation, energy production, and life itself. Despite its importance, alarming signs suggest that there are looming threats to this vital resource. The World Resources Institute contends that the world's thirst...
Water is the economic, social, and physical lifeblood of humanity, providing the bases for agriculture, industry, transportation, energy production, and life itself. Despite its importance, alarming signs suggest that there are looming threats to this vital resource. The World Resources Institute contends that the world's thirst for water is likely to become one of the most pressing issues this century due to population growth, drought, and climate change. The World Bank reports that many developing nations already face a crisis from intensive irrigation, urbanization, diminishing supplies, and deteriorating infrastructure; and, UNESCO predicts as many as 7 billion people in half the world's countries will face shortages of potable water by 2050. The purpose of this course is to illuminate how water is a political, social, economic, and environmental challenge and to suggest ways we might manage it better and more equitably. You will be provided basic knowledge about physical aspects of water supply and quality; the evolution of water policy throughout history - and in different societies; the importance of water to human and ecological health; the role of law, politics, and markets in its allocation, regulation, and protection; and, the importance of ethics to its equitable provision. The focus of this course is competition for water, and the impacts of this competition on available supply and quality - from a global perspective. Disputes over water are not limited to less developed countries. Such conflicts are growing across the U.S., especially in the West, and in California - where water management has long been a focal point of contention.