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.