Beyond Big Dams: Fred Pearce on grass roots water solutions

Interesting article by Fred Pearce (author of When The Rivers Run Dry) at Yale 360. Here is the first few paragraphs, full article here.


Beyond Big Dams: Turning to
Grass Roots Solutions on Water
Mega-dams and massive government-run irrigation projects are not the key to meeting world’s water needs, a growing number of experts now say. For developing nations, the answer may lie in small-scale measures such as inexpensive water pumps and other readily available equipment.

by Fred Pearce

How will the world find the water to feed a growing population in an era of droughts and water shortages? The answer, a growing number of water experts are saying, is to forget big government-run irrigations projects with their mega-dams, giant canals, and often corrupt and indolent management. Farmers across the poor world, they say, are solving their water problems far more effectively with cheap Chinese-made pumps and other low-tech and off-the-shelf equipment. Researchers are concluding that small is both beautiful and productive.

“Cheap pumps and new ways of powering them are transforming farming and boosting income all over Africa and Asia,” says Meredith Giordano, lead author of a three-year research project looking at how smallholder farmers are turning their backs on governments and finding their own solutions to water problems…


Leopold panel at American Society for Envr. History

Just received confirmation for a panel on Aldo Leopold at the ASEH meeting in Toronto next April. I’m looking forward to it. Here is my title and abstract:

Leopold’s classification of things: ecology, nominalism and obligation(s)

Aldo Leopold argued for an extension of moral consideration to the entire community of things that comprise ecological systems: collectively, the land. Foregrounding the extension of ethics to this collectivity, however, was a shift that required reordering ethical obligations, and human participants to them, in ecological terms. This paper explores the re-ordering of humans as a different kind of thing—Leopold’s movement of humans from ‘masters’ to ‘plain members’ of ecological systems—which opens up ecological understandings of relationships among things more generally. It finds that Leopold anticipates critiques of modernity made by later social theorists, such as Bruno Latour, and the recent turn towards the ontology of things. But does Leopold offer an alternate path out of modernity? This is the key question of this paper. Investigating this question is taken along two paths. The first considers whether Leopold held to a version of nominalism regarding how things are classified. It queries whether he perhaps even held a type of dynamic nominalism where classification systems ‘loop-back’ to affect what are considered to be concrete possibilities for governing ecological systems at a given time and place. The second considers how Leopold grounds, in an interactive way, what kind of ethical and political duties are extended to what kinds of things. It concludes by considering how Leopold trades on collectivities of things—the land—and the notion of community through which he augurs for an extension of ethics.