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The Global Water Crisis in Historical Perspective

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1 The Global Water Crisis in Historical Perspective
Nicholas Breyfogle Department of History The Ohio State University Image:

2 What do we mean by Crisis?
Quantity Quality Chronology Location Humans, flora, fauna Photo: David Mixner; chart OECD

3 What do we Learn from Water History?
Intersection of the biological and ecological with the political, cultural, religious, economic, and social Solutions must address this complex intersection Two moments of significant change in human-water relationship Normal? Image: Lake Baikal. Author

4 The Water Revolution I: 10,000-12,000 years ago
From Hunter-Gatherer to settled agriculture Water management techniques and engineering

5 Human struggles to overcome water variability and to harness its power
Increasingly sophisticated technologies Images: Creative Commons

6 The flourishing and collapse of civilizations: e.g. Angkor Wat
Photo: Charles J Sharp

7 Water Revolution II 19th and especially 20th centuries
Industrial Revolution Water became interconnected with machines and fossil fuels (and later other energy sources) Globalization of water and water movement

8 Water Dreamers Change in human ways of thinking about water
Should not waste nature Can improve nature: Faith that hydro-engineering can unleash bounty

9 Agriculture and Groundwater/Aquifers

10 Groundwater civilizations:
U.S. West (e.g. Ogallala Aquifer) Saudi Arabia Australia

11 Remaking Rivers and Lakes
EG: The Rhine Source:

12 Dam Building Hoover Dam

13 Urban Water and Sewage

14 Reduction in water-borne Disease:
“Death's dispensary” A cartoon on the dangers of drinking water

15 Pollution

16 Thoughts for the Future: What to do about Water Crises
1) Control Population

17 2) Changes to agriculture 3) Water realists 4) Budget for cost
5) Focus on/Fund good science Photos: Byrd Polar; Really Natural


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