The gender bending chemicals in water

This is a very interesting lecture. I was at this event last fall and thought I would return to it this summer through these videos. This one includes a talk by Charles Tyler about the effects of chemicals on hormones. Here is a really interesting fact in the talk – on a hot summer’s day more than 75% of the water flow on some English rivers is wastewater.

Tyler’s talk begins at about 58 minutes with an introduction to him. The earlier lecture in the video by Martin Melosi may also be of interest to some. It is a combination of water policy and history with a bit of economics sprinkled in.

Is water H2O?

One of the most basic assumptions about water is that it is H2O. The assumption finds its way into all sorts of debates. Critiques of our supposedly scientific culture often bemoan management practices that treat water as only H2O and which fail to incorporate other ways of knowing water (i.e. non-scientific ones). Philosophers have used H2O in debates about essentialism – over whether water is essentially constituted in a certain way and, if so, what that might tell us about “essences” more generally.

It’s all premised on a simple idea, but one that has a really fascinating history and philosophy of its own. cda_displayimage

And so, if you haven’t yet come across Hasok Chang’s Is Water H2O: evidence, realism and pluralism, may I recommend that you do. It is too pricey to recommend purchasing, but if you can snag a library copy you will be treated to an in-depth analysis of the ways that theory and practice evolved in the 19th century.

Here is the editor’s description:

“This book exhibits deep philosophical quandaries and intricacies of the historical development of science lying behind a simple and fundamental item of common sense in modern science, namely the composition of water as H2O. Three main phases of development are critically re-examined, covering the historical period from the 1760s to the 1860s: the Chemical Revolution (through which water first became recognized as a compound, not an element), early electrochemistry (by which water’s compound nature was confirmed), and early atomic chemistry (in which water started out as HO and became H2O). In each case, the author concludes that the empirical evidence available at the time was not decisive in settling the central debates, and therefore the consensus that was reached was unjustified, or at least premature. This leads to a significant re-examination of the realism question in the philosophy of science, and a unique new advocacy for pluralism in science. Each chapter contains three layers, allowing readers to follow various parts of the book at their chosen level of depth and detail. The second major study in “complementary science”, this book offers a rare combination of philosophy, history and science in a bid to improve scientific knowledge through history and philosophy of science.”

Peter Gleick on the “grand challenges” of water and climate

Legal symposium on hydraulic fracturing and water (presentations + videos)

If the links for this don’t work for some reason you can go directly to the original site here. If you are interested in water, Joseph Dellapenna’s talk in session two  may be of particular relevance.


The 2013 Idaho Law Review Symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary panel of legal, scientific, and business experts to discuss issues related to the hydraulic fracturing. Topics will include: (1) the science and technology of hydraulic fracturing; (2) the regulation of hydraulic fracturing’s environmental effects; (3) the role of state and local governments in regulating hydraulic fracturing; (4) current legal hot topics in the field, such as the role of trespass and trade secrets; and (5) the role of hydraulic fracturing in a clean energy future for the country.

The 2013 Idaho Law Review Symposium will continue the tradition of bringing together a select group of scholars and professionals for an informed interdisciplinary discussion centered on a topic of growing national importance. By exposing members of the academic, business, technological, and legal communities to diverse viewpoints and multifaceted experiences, our goal is to provide a forum for open discourse which will provide participants with valuable information applicable to their own business and legal situations.

CLE Credits

The video of the Symposium is now available for free access below.

PowerPoint Slides and Law Review Articles

The PowerPoint slides and law review articles of the presenters will be posted as soon as they are available. The slides and law review articles constitute the CLE presentation materials for the Symposium.

Symposium Schedule of Events

Science and Technology of Hydraulic Fracturing (8:45-9:45) – (video)
Moderator: Anastasia Telesetsky (Idaho)
John Imse (NORWEST) – Presentation (pdf)
Virginia Gillerman (Idaho Geological Survey) – Presentation (pdf)

Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing’s Environmental Effects (10:00 – 12:35)
Water. (10:00 – 11:00) – (video)
Moderator: Barbara Cosens (Idaho)
Joseph Dellapenna (Villanova) – Primer on Groundwater Law (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)
Robin Kundis Craig (Utah) – Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking), Federalism, and the Water-Energy Nexus (pdf)

Air & Land. (11:00 – 12:20) – (video)
Moderator: Jerrold Long (Idaho)
Jim Wedeking (Sidley Austin LLP) – Up in the Air (pdf)
Carlos Romo (Baker Botts LLP) – Rethinking the ESAs Orderly Progression (pdf)- Presentation (pdf)
Elizabeth Burleson (Pace)

State & Local Government Regulation Hydraulic Fracturing (1:50 – 2:50) – (video)
Moderator: Stephen R. Miller (Idaho)
Uma Outka (Kansas) – Presentation (pdf)
Michael Christian (Marcus Christian Hardee & Davies LLP) – Summary of Revisions to Idahos Oil and Gas Conservation Act and Rules (pdf)

Two Hydraulic Fracturing Hot Topics: Trespass & Trade Secrets (2:50 – 3:50) – (video)
Moderator: TBA
Chris Kulander (Texas Tech) – Common Law Aspects of Shale Oil and Gas Development (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)
Keith Hall (Louisiana State) – Hydraulic Fracturing: Trade Secrets (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)

Does Hydraulic Fracturing Have a Role in a Clean Energy Future? (4:00 – 5:00) – (video)
Moderator: Dale D. Goble (Idaho)
Joshua Fershee (West Virginia)
Patrick Parenteau (Vermont) – A Bridge Too Far (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)

Surprise! Global hydrological cycle is in social space #anthropocene

Complex systems often have elements of surprise.

Here is an important one, just published in Nature Climate Change. It links two factors – aerosol pollution and carbon emissions – to show how they have been balancing each other off. This helps to explain why the hydrological cycle was not as intense as initially expected under global warming scenarios. It is because aerosols muted some of the warming effects on the hydrological cycle. But as we have cleaned up our air (to some degree) the effects of warming gain momentum.

This is an important finding regarding how key drivers of the planet’s life support system (i.e. water) are inside the social space from within which we govern things like our aerosol emissions. Or, alternately, the space in which we fail to govern adequately, as in the case of carbon emissions.

Anthropogenic impact on Earth’s hydrological cycle

Peili Wu, Nikolaos Christidis & Peter Stott

The global hydrological cycle is a key component of Earth’s climate system. A significant amount of the energy the Earth receives from the Sun is redistributed around the world by the hydrological cycle in the form of latent heat flux. Changes in the hydrological cycle have a direct impact on droughts, floods, water resources and ecosystem services. Observed land precipitationand global river discharges do not show an increasing trend as might be expected in a warming world. Here we show that this apparent discrepancy can be resolved when the effects of tropospheric aerosols are considered. Analysing state-of-the-art climate model simulations, we find for the first time that there was a detectable weakening of the hydrological cycle between the 1950s and the 1980s, attributable to increased anthropogenic aerosols, after which the hydrological cycle recovered as a result of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. The net result of these two counter-acting effects is an insignificant trend in the global hydrological cycle, but the individual influence of each is substantial. Reductions in air pollution have already shown an intensification in the past two decadesand a further rapid increase in precipitation could be expected if the current trend continues.

Missing links in Global Water Governance: a Process-Oriented Analysis

Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Ken Conca, Annika Kramer, Josefina Maestu and Falk Schmidt have a new paper out in Ecology and Society that is in the special feature on Global Water Governance that David Groenfeldt and I wrote a paper on water and ethics for. The papers are freely downloadable here.

The ‘missing links’ metaphor is very interesting – because it situates us in some chain of events, aims or objectives. These are what my latest work is focusing on. I’ve now got about 1/3 of my new book in hand and it presents a very different view of the “chain” of global governance. I hope to have the whole thing done by year’s end and, perhaps, will have a paper or two out on it around then as well.

Missing Links in Global Water Governance: a Processes-Oriented Analysis


Over the past decade, the policy and scholarly communities have increasingly recognized the need for governance of water-related issues at the global level. There has been major progress in the achievement of international goals related to the provision of basic water and some progress on sanitation services. However, the water challenge is much broader than securing supply. Doubts have been raised about the effectiveness of some of the existing governance processes, in the face of trends such as the unsustainable use of water resources, the increasing pressure imposed by climate change, or the implications of population growth for water use in food and energy production. Conflicts between different water uses and users are increasing, and the state of the aquatic environment is further declining. Inequity in access to basic water and sanitation services is still an issue. We argue that missing links in the trajectories of policy development are one major reason for the relative ineffectiveness of global water governance. To identify these critical links, a framework is used to examine how core governance processes are performed and linked. Special attention is given to the role of leadership, representativeness, legitimacy, and comprehensiveness, which we take to be critical characteristics of the processes that underpin effective trajectories of policy development and implementation. The relevance of the identified categories is illustrated with examples from three important policy arenas in global water governance: the effort to address access to water and sanitation, currently through the Millennium Development Goals; the controversy over large dams; and the links between climate change and water resources management. Exploratory analyses of successes and failures in each domain are used to identify implications and propose improvements for more effective and legitimate action.

Geopolitical Material

This is an interesting post, and it is very nice to see the link of feminism and geopower in Grosz’s work come increasingly to the fore in political geography.

The June Water Ethics Newsletter is out

It is available here.

Thanks to Dave Groenfeldt for putting it together, lots of interesting stuff on a new water charter, hydropower and several other developments.