Global Warming and Water Management

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					Global Warming and Water
 Can Cooperation help us avoid
  conflict over water scarcity?
                  The Problem
• Global warming will increase the uncertainties
  surrounding our water supply through more
  erratic rainfall, loss of snowmelt runoff, etc.
  Specific effects will vary by region.
• Most damaging to systems that are already
  stressed (IPCC reports that 1.7 billion people
  live in water stressed countries).
• So why does this matter?
  – People will fight over it.
     The Problem: Legal/Political
• Disputes in the developed world-
  – Waning Colorado River Water
  – Southeastern Drought
     • Army Corps of Engineers control how much water is released
       from Reservoirs in Georgia downstream to Florida and
     • Must take into account interests of each state (Georgia-
       municipal water/Florida-sportfishing stocks, oyster industry,
       endangered species etc).
     • Florida and Georgia both seeking legal action, Alabama has
       no water management plan despite two years of drought!
    The Problem: Legal/Political
           Conflict (2)

• The potential for reduced water supply to
  fast-growing Atlanta caused Georgia Gov.
  Sonny Perdue to lead a large group in a
  prayer for rain last Tuesday (Nov. 13).
  The Problem: Violent Conflict
• In and among undeveloped countries
  conflict supposedly will be much worse-
  Water Wars!!
  – Nordas and Gleditsch offer numerous
    alarmists quotes:
     • Dept. of Defense (Randall and Schwartz 2003)
     • UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon 2007
     • Kevin Noone Director of Intern. Geosphere-
       Biosphere Program
     • IPCC, more restrained but still alarmist and
 The Problem: Violent Conflict (2)
• What are the causal pathways?
  – Scarcity directly causes conflict, either within
    or between states.
     • Demand induced via population growth
     • Supply induced (either because of environmental
       change or substandard infrastructure)
     • Distributional-scarcity is greater for some groups
  – Climate changed induced migration may
    cause conflict in host communities
• We have a word for such reasoning….
The Problem: Violent Conflict (3)
Malthusian! Humans       Kantian! Humans can
are prisoners of their   cooperate.
environments…            Institutions help.
        Motivating Questions
• Is violent conflict over water inevitable?
  To what extent are the Malthusians right?
• Is it adaptation to water scarcity possible
  without violence? How do we currently
  adapt to scarcity? To what extent are the
  Kantians right?
How probable is violent conflict?
• Does scarcity directly lead to civil war? –
  Not really.
  – Raleigh and Urdal (2007): test a
    disaggregated model covering all
    countries, water scarcity matters but not that
    much compared to
    demographic, economic, and political
  – What about just Africa though?
How probable is violent conflict? (2)
• Hendrix and Glaser (2007)
How probable is violent conflict? (3)
• Meier Bond and Bond (2007): precipitation
  variability doesn’t lead to increased cattle raids
  in the horn of africa.
• Will migration cause civil conflict?
   – Maybe (Reuveny 2007): counts 38 documented
     episodes of environment-induced migration, finds
     conflict results in 19 cases while the other 19 were
   – Gleditsch and Salehyan (2007): refugees are more
     likely to spread conflict than cause it.
• What about interstate war?
How probable is violent conflict? (4)
• Evidence from Shared River Basins
• Gleditsch et al (2006)
How probable is violent conflict? (5)
• Yoffe, Wolfe, and Giordano (2003)
            Summary so far
• Conflict is certainly a possible result of
  climate change induced water scarcity but:
  – The causal chain between scarcity and
    conflict is still sketchy, general human misery
    is much more likely.
  – Conflict can be averted through successful
    water management. How does this work?
                   The Solution?
What is water management?
• Demand (restrict usage) and supply (build
  infrastructure) side regulations dealing with:
      •   Municipal water supply
      •   Irrigation
      •   Industrial
      •   Hydropower
      •   Navigation
      •   Pollution Control
      •   Flood Management
            The Solution? (2)
 As the IPCC notes (Ch. 4.6.4): “having the
  ability to adapt to change is not the same
  as actually adapting to change.”
 So why haven’t management tools been
  widely implemented?
   IPCC says (4.8.3)- we need more knowledge!
      Better monitoring data on supply and usage, better
       understanding of patterns of variability, better
       management techniques and decision criteria…
      But…Where’s the politics?
           The Solution? (3)
• The ability for relevant political actors to
  cooperate is critical for effective water
  management. Why?
  – Management is costly, who will bear the
    costs? How will losers be compensated?
  – Management choices are circumscribed by
    existing institutions
 Example of Water Institutions-CA
• “Water is the life-blood of Southern California” –
  MWD 1931.
• Local governments and water districts controlled
  water management pre-1920.
• Metropolitan Water District is a cooperative of 26
  member agencies
  – 14 cities, 11 municipal water districts, and the
    countywide San Diego Water authority
• Supplies 60 percent of the water used in Urban
  Southern California.
     Metropolitan Water District
• MWD’s early history is that of a water
  – In late 1920s, MWD financed and built 242
    mile Colorado River Aqueduct.
  – In 1970s imported water from Northern CA via
    State Water Project’s Aqueduct system.
• How has MWD adapted to increasing
  water scarcity?
   Increasing Scarcity of Colorado
         River Water for CA
• California’s allocation is 4.4 MAF per year, plus
  half of any surplus. Arizona v. CA 1963.
   – Surplus allocation allowed CA to consume 20% more
     than its basic allotment.
   – Reduced streamflow cut surpluses, upper basin
     states, Arizona, and Mexico now using most of their
   – In 2002, Interior department limited CA to 4.4 MAF by
     declaring the end of surplus conditions.
           MWD’s Reaction
• Switch from water importation to in-state
  transfers from N. CA, conservation,
  storage, and rural to urban water transfers.
  – Required abandoning its traditional alliance
    with agribusiness.
• MWD faces opposition everywhere
  – Peripheral Canal Defeated in 1982 by Central
    valley interests and Environmentalists
  – Calfed Bay-Delta Program only partially
    implemented by 2002 Proposition 50.
  How is water conflict resolved in
            the U.S.?
• Institutional bargaining amongst every
  level and branch of government
  – Increasing scarcity merely exacerbates
    ongoing conflicts
  – The federal government and the court system
  – Expertise aggregated into water agencies like
• Conflicts never turn violent, though there
  are always losers (i.e. Mexico).
      Questions for Discussion
• Given the lack of any water infrastructure
  and management in much of the
  developing world, can management be
  improved? Is migration a forgone
• Is international water aid a realistic