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The Water ParadoxOvercoming the Global Crisis in Water Management$
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Edward B. Barbier

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300224436

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300224436.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Humankind and Water

Humankind and Water

(p.36) 2 Humankind and Water
The Water Paradox

Edward B. Barbier

Yale University Press

This chapter examines how humankind's complex relationship with water evolved historically to create today's water paradox. There is a significant difference between how water is managed and used for economic development today compared to past eras. Starting with the Agricultural Transition around 10,000 years ago, economic development was spurred by harnessing more water resources. Rather than threatening sustainable development, exploiting and controlling water resources was the key to building successful and long-lasting economies. Although the relationship between exploiting water resources and economic development has changed, many of the water institutions and innovations have not. Water may appear to be cheap, but it is only artificially so. Instead, the current market, policy, and governance institutions underprice it, and so people continue to use water excessively as if it were not scarce. Most of the innovations are also geared toward expanding command and control of water resources, not toward reducing use as economies develop.

Keywords:   water, water management, economic development, Agricultural Transition, water resources, sustainable development, water exploitation, water institutions, water innovations, water underpricing

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