Interesting stuff

    1. Read: The right and wrong way to assess students (by one of our alumni)
    2. Read: How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire (fueled by social media) and (related) how Facebook (mis)uses AI
    3. Listen: The business of making a new pasta shape
    4. Listen: A nice look into crypto, NFTs and innovation 
    5. Read: California mulls over plans to buy houses that will be flooded by rising seas, as that will be cheaper than fighting with millionaires who want “government” to protect their houses.
    6. Read: Private schools are not facing their hypocrisy of perpetuating class divides
    7. Read: Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation, and how they get into each other’s way
    8. Read: Wanna thrive? “Start by scheduling more varied activities into your days, weeks, and months and removing variety from your hours and minutes.”
    9. Read: Email broke the office: “This convergence of factors has made the last two decades of office work like standing in an increasingly crowded and rowdy bar. Offices might be silent while everyone communicates through their screens, but inside our minds, things have gotten noisier and noisier without anyone stopping to ask why—and when communication about work never ceases, it leaves little time to actually execute the work.”
    10. The State of the Nation(al hypocrisy):

H/T to DPG

Interesting stuff

  1. Listen: A biophysicist explains Aristotelian ethics and a life well lived
  2. Read: In many countries (not the US or NL), there is a “human right to a healthy environment”. Surprisingly (?), it seems to have an effect!
  3. An interesting look at utilities, regulators and “regulatory capture” (corruption) that misses the (very common) problem of poorly performing municipal utilities.
  4. Read: “GME, Doge, Supreme: How Getting Rich Went Full Internet
  5. Listen: A really great discussion on group cohesion, belonging, and relationships with Robin Dunbar (of the Dunbar number)
  6. Read about innocent people executed for crimes they did not commit: “If I were to be murdered,” wrote Prejean, “I would not want my murderer executed. I would not want my death avenged—especially by government—which can’t be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of its citizens to kill.”
  7. Read: “Sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans.

H/T to CD

Progress in relation to standards of life

Book 6, Chapter 13

This is the last chapter of the book!

§1. So what’s the point of it all?

The term the standard of life is here taken to mean the standard of activities adjusted to wants. Thus a rise in the standard of life implies an increase of intelligence and energy and self-respect; leading to more care and judgment in expenditure, and to an avoidance of food and drink that gratify the appetite but afford no strength, and of ways of living that are unwholesome physically and morally. A rise in the standard of life for the whole population will much increase the national dividend, and the share of it which accrues to each grade and to each trade. A rise in the standard of life for any one trade or grade will raise their efficiency and therefore their own real wages: it will increase the national dividend a little; and it will enable others to obtain their assistance at a cost somewhat less in proportion to its efficiency.

§2. Some short-term methods of raising one’s standard of living exist (e.g., abusing market power or buying cheaper imported goods), but higher productivity is the only long-term method of doing so.

§3. Although tired workers should work fewer hours when they are losing productivity, lower hours increases the cost of labor vis-a-vis capital, which can mean lower wages. (Marshall assumes free markets. Union-supporters would say that they can keep wages high while reducing hours, but that claim relies on them being able to protect jobs from cheaper labor, capital and imports!)

§4. Marshall adds that less but more expensive labor means less output for the rest of society, which can lower the social standard of living (fewer but more costly goods) or productivity (industry cannot correct the labor/capital balance).

§5. Higher wages and lower capital earnings encourages capital, entrepreneurs and companies to leave in search of better living standards and profitable opportunities. Such brain drains don’t just hit “statist” countries like the USSR, Cuba, China and Venezuela. They also hit corrupt countries like Argentina, Italy, Greece, Mexico, India and others. The US and most EU countries are not as bad, but too much intervention (or redistribution to politically important groups) can kill the geese laying golden eggs!

§6. A short-run rise in wages might be justified by competitive, market conditions, but those conditions are not universal or eternal — limiting the value of ideas like “$15 minimum wage for all”.

§7. Unions raise the profile of workers and their pride in working together. Unions can also fight for wage increases, but those increases cannot undermine businesses.

§8. Productivity-based wages do not harm average workers, but they will displace less-productive workers.

§9. Unions that press for the same wages for all workers or wages based on older (less-efficient) practices are likely to harm their least-efficient members, who will not be employed for long if their wages exceed their productivity.

§10. If one branch of industry should lose its market, productivity and employment, then other branches will suffer loses of demand (for goods) and supply (for inputs), thereby creating an unhelpful feedback that can only be reversed by a (slow) return of confidence. These dynamics underlay much of the crippling impacts of the Great Depression that began a decade after Marshall’s book.

§11. Marshall cautions against large-scale or rapid alterations in labor-capital relations, perhaps in response to the Russian Revolution of 1917:

There is therefore strong primâ facie cause for fearing that the collective ownership of the means of production would deaden the energies of mankind, and arrest economic progress; unless before its introduction the whole people had acquired a power of unselfish devotion to the public good which is now relatively rare. And, though this matter cannot be entered upon here, it might probably destroy much that is most beautiful and joyful in the private and domestic relations of life. These are the main reasons which cause patient students of economics generally to anticipate little good and much evil from schemes for sudden and violent reorganization of the economic, social and political conditions of life. p 593

After saying this, Marshall advocates taxing the rich to reduce inequality as it’s better to allow (and then tax) productivity than redistribute the means of production to those less able to produce.

§12. Freedom helps productive, educated, healthy workers, but the “less prepared” might need “German-style” social programs. Marshall doesn’t mind those programs if they are also aimed at helping the children of poorer families escape poverty. (These ideas are still hotly debated, but it’s interesting to see Marshall departing from his earlier eugenic pronouncements (“Nature”) in favor of Nurture.)

§13. Marshall criticises speculators, calling for more “economic chivalry” in which the rich finance the advancement of other citizens (and their children). I am not sure if he favours the rich paying higher taxes or donating to help others. The former is about 50x more effective, in my opinion.

§14. The next generation will not learn much if their parents are struggling. Shorter hours and leisure are essential for rest, flourishing and innovation.

§15. Natura non facit saltum:

Now, as always, noble and eager schemers for the reorganization of society have painted beautiful pictures of life, as it might be under institutions which their imagination constructs easily. But it is an irresponsible imagination, in that it proceeds on the suppressed assumption that human nature will, under the new institutions, quickly undergo changes such as cannot reasonably be expected in the course of a century, even under favourable conditions. If human nature could be thus ideally transformed, economic chivalry would dominate life even under the existing institutions of private property. And private property, the necessity for which doubtless reaches no deeper than the qualities of human nature, would become harmless at the same time that it became unnecessary.

There is then need to guard against the temptation to overstate the economic evils of our own age, and to ignore the existence of similar and worse evils in earlier ages; even though some exaggeration may for the time stimulate others, as well as ourselves, to a more intense resolve that the present evils shall no longer be allowed to exist. But it is not less wrong, and generally it is much more foolish, to palter with truth for a good than for a selfish cause. And the pessimist descriptions of our own age, combined with romantic exaggerations of the happiness of past ages, must tend to the setting aside of methods of progress, the work of which if slow is yet solid; and to the hasty adoption of others of greater promise, but which resemble the potent medicines of a charlatan, and while quickly effecting a little good, sow the seeds of widespread and lasting decay. 

…and that, my friends, is the end of the main book. There are still 13 appendices that I may read (or not). Update next week!

This post is part of a series in the Marshall 2020 Project, i.e., an excuse for me to read Alfred Marshall’s Principles of Economics (1890 first edition/1920 eighth edition), which dominated economic thinking until Van Neumann and Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour (1944) and Samuelson’s Foundations of Economic Analysis (1946) pivoted economics from institutional induction to mathematical deduction.

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: Sasha Baron Cohen took off his Borat mask to ask real questions about how social media is fomenting hate and attacks on others
  2. Read: 100 years ago, we knew about airborne viruses, then we forgot.
  3. Read: When will the Pandemic be over for society (for you)?
  4. Read: “Email is making us miserable” — just as “randomised win/lose” social media.
  5. Read: Persuading the unpersuadable (quite insightful)
  6. Listen: How the Russians used asymmetric methods to take over Crimea — and how that method will be used again in … Taiwan? Bulgaria? Where next?
  7. Read: Paul Krugman on MMT (wtf), bitcoin (bubble), and deficits (not relevant?)
  8. Listen: “Should universities be the leaders in educating people how to be more sustainable?” (I’m one of 2 guests.)
  9. Read: Stockholm’s basic income experiment has good results
  10. Read: “In Peterson’s view, the bill exposed the larger agenda of postmodernism, which he portrayed as an ideology that, in denying the existence of objective truth, “leaves its practitioners without an ethic.” (This is not how theorists of postmodernism define it, and if you have a few hours to spare, do ask one of them to explain.)”

General influences of economic progress

Book 6, Chapter 12

§1. The chapter begins with:

The field of employment which any place offers for labour and capital depends, firstly, on its natural resources; secondly, on the power of turning them to good account, derived from its progress of knowledge and of social and industrial organization; and thirdly, on the access that it has to markets in which it can sell those things of which it has a superfluity. The importance of this last condition is often underrated; but it stands out prominently when we look at the history of new countries.

…and from here, Marshall looks at capital and wages in ex-colonies such as the US and Australia. These places have abundant resources but lack capital and market access. Wages there are high due to tough conditions, and they fall as development brings economies of scale (further increasing wages) and migration (reducing wages). High capital returns for Old World money in the New World also fall as markets develop.

§2. Eighteenth century England’s economy grew as industrialisation multiplied output and trade (often forced, via colonialism) opened new markets. Faster communication and shipping increased competition, thereby lowering prices.

§3. Increased productivity and high trade volumes lowered the cost of manufactured products to English workers, but expensive domestic food sources reduced that surplus. Growing trade in food (e.g., imported US wheat) displaced domestic production (allowing poor soils to be left for pasture) and lowered food prices. (The 1846 repeal of the Corn Laws also matters.)

§4. Profits fell as protectionism hindered trade and cheaper transport, energy, etc. spurred competition, thereby slowing the increase in English prosperity.

§5. Looking back from 1900/1920, Marshall observes that the costs of food, housing, and heating have been “stable” even as quality has increased and that technological innovation (coal, electricity, machines) have brought clean water, meat, heat, light and other “luxuries” to the working classes, opening the possibility of an entire country — rather than just a city (Venice, Athens) — of well-off people.

§6. Although increased trade and repeal of the Corn Laws pushed down the (rental) value of English land, rents rose as land use shifted to higher value crops or trade-advantaged production. Net net, rents doubled over the nineteenth century.

§7. Easy transport and expanding markets bring competition that lowers profits for expensive, long-lived machines. The value of rail, road and canal transit routes depends on trade methods and routes. Values fell as routes went elsewhere but rose as depots and hubs gained traffic.

§8. Marshall observes that people’s lengthening time horizons (falling discount rates) lead them to harder work now to enjoy greater savings later. He also comments that working hours are falling as over-work becomes a thing. (I guess they were way above 40 hours/week in 1920.) That said, he notes that some will work more if earning are high. For more on these topics, see my post on Keynes’s 1930 essay on productivity.

§9. Wages are rising for (the many) workers who bring more more education and skill to working with machines in agriculture and industry but falling for (the few) artisans who formerly did these jobs. For society, average wages and overall productivity (wealth) are rising, but some are losing out, relatively.

§10. The rising wages of women and children are good for them but bad for the “tradition” in which men earn the money, women tend the house, and children obey.

§11. Marshall identifies what is today called the “winner take all” economy (the return to average talents drops while returns to The Best skyrocket), which is driven by (a) great wealth and (b) communication that allows The Best to find clients everywhere. Indeed: “But so long as the number of persons who can be reached by a human voice is strictly limited, it is not very likely that any singer will make an advance on the £10,000…”

NB: “The first radio news program was broadcast August 31, 1920

§12. Marshall notes a general increase in prosperity for the working and middle classes. He notes that this prosperity can be threatened by loss of work but says such a threat is over-rated compared to the “old days” of piecemeal and sporadic work. With a new normal of year-round employment in large enterprises, workers have better overall job security. The Great Depression tested that conclusion less than a decade later.

This post is part of a series in the Marshall 2020 Project, i.e., an excuse for me to read Alfred Marshall’s Principles of Economics (1890 first edition/1920 eighth edition), which dominated economic thinking until Van Neumann and Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour (1944) and Samuelson’s Foundations of Economic Analysis (1946) pivoted economics from institutional induction to mathematical deduction.

Nairobi: Too little water, too much inequality

Amina writes*

Nairobi, Kenya is one of the world’s many fast-growing cities facing severe water shortages. Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) currently serves only 72 percent [pdf] of the city’s population, forcing many residents to rely on unsafe and higher priced water from kiosks and private vendors. When it comes to water, Nairobi suffers from poor governance, underinvestment and persistent regional inequality.

Tap water in Nairobi is not always safe, but the biggest issue concerning Nairobi’s water scarcity is the way in which pricing perpetuates regional discrimination and inequality. The NCWSC uses an increased block tariff, but this does not account for the initial set-up costs that most of the cities’ poor simply cannot afford. Another reason why the city’s water network is inaccessible to the poor is the need to make monthly payments. Residents of informal settlements are often paid in daily wages, so they have a hard time paying large monthly charges.

An alternative to tap water was presented in 2015 by placing water ATMs in the cities slums, accessible to residents by using a smart card. This solution was, however, both unsustainable and unreliable. The placement of water ATM’s does not tackle the inequality of infrastructure in Nairobi nor are the tanks always full, which makes them untrustworthy in times of scarcity.

As a result, the residents of Nairobi’s informal settlements are compelled to purchase their water from private vendors. These vendors, however, charge Ksh2 – 50 (€0,015–0,38) for a (20L) jerrycan that would cost  Ksh4 (€0,03 €) from the NCWSC. Research has shown that dependence on private water vendors is positively correlated with poverty. The poor pay more to get water that’s dirtier than that consumed by the wealthier residents using NCWSC water.

Regional inequality contributes to these problems. Spatial segregation dating from colonialism means water solution providers invest in higher income neighborhoods instead of informal settlements.

Nairobi began rationing water in 2016 to cope with excess demand. In 2018, only 40% of residents had 24/7 supply. With rationing targeting 3 out of 4 quarters, inequality continues.

Yet, there might be better times ahead, as the Kenyan government has committed itself to sustainable development goal 6, ensuring availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. But how this objective will be realized when broken promises are the norm in Nairobi? The NCWSC plans to bring 80% water coverage [pdf] to Nairobi’s citizens by 2022, but they failed to meet that objective with a 2018 deadline. Water supply projects have been announced, but they lack funding and miss sustainability targets, according to experts.

Bottom Line: Water is currently continuing Nairobi’s regional inequality due to the city’s rapid growth, urban planning failings and colonial heritage.

* Please help my Water Scarcity students by commenting on unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data sources, or maybe just saying something nice 🙂

Can Thailand manage its future water?

Sasja writes*

During the summer of 2020, Thailand experienced one if the worst droughts in 40 years, while floods at the end of that same year lead to at least eight districts of the Yala Province being underwater (Thai Enquirer). Thailand has issued a series of national plans over the past 50 years to tackle droughts, floods, and growing demand for water for agricultural and economic activities. Improvements have been made such has building up and expanding irrigation constructions, using water sources more efficiently, encouraging the involvement of the private sector, managing demand by taxing water, and switching from a project-based approach to a more centralized approach with more guidelines (and later switching to a project-to project approach again, as the top-down management proved unsuccessful). These steps have improved the situation, but national plans have not overcome demand growing with the economy and population or weak coordination between organizations (FAO).

Thailand recently implemented a 20-year masterplan for water management to resolve its chronic drought, flood and wastewater problems. The masterplan, which will focus on supplying clean water, solving floods, building dams and restoring watershed areas, is the one of four pillars. The remaining three consist of the Water Resources Act, reducing redundancy, and developing new ideas and technologies to address problems (Bangkok Post).

The government is willing to invest in good water management, but the Thai government must provide bigger budgets and improve communication between River Basin Committees (RBCs) and National Water Resource Committee (NWRC). Moreover, RBCs need clear directives and freedom from interference from national and local governments if they are to succeed at managing local waters. The roles and responsibilities of RBCs in relation to other agencies must be clarified. If these issues are tackled, the RBCs can benefit from the help and diversity of stakeholders in understanding and managing water issues.

Counterintuitively, it is also recommended to not have a holistic view of all natural resources. Instead, the focus should be on water, with the option to include other natural resources later in the process. Second, Integrated Water Management (IWRM) capacities need to also be strengthened at the Department of Water Resources and Ministry of National Resources and Environment. Third, priority basins need to integrate community activities and priorities with IWRM-driven investment projects (World Bank).

Bottom Line: Existing structures must be strengthened and given clear directives so they can support bottom-up cooperation with local communities.

* Please help my Water Scarcity students by commenting on unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data sources, or maybe just saying something nice 🙂

Desalination and water scarcity in Dubai

Ian writes*

A few years ago, I was shocked to learn that bottled water is more expensive than bottled cola when transferring at Dubai International Airport. This exemplifies that physical water scarcity challenge Dubai is currently facing. Climate, geography, and population impact Dubai’s water management. Dubai has a “BWh climate” according to the Köppen Classification, characterized by extremely hot and arid summers where the yearly precipitation is less than 100mm. With little precipitation but intense evaporation, natural surface water (beside the Dubai Creek) is nonexistent in Dubai. Average residential water consumption per capita per day is around 270 liters, this figure is much lower than the US average but much higher than the global average (FAO). The aquifers beneath Dubai cannot meet the demand of 3.4 million residents and the commercial/ industrial sectors (Dubai Statistics Center 2021). Situated along the Persian Gulf, desalinated water meets 99.5% of demand (DEWA Annual Statistics 2019).

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) vertically integrates water governance in Dubai, from extraction and desalination to distribution and wastewater treatment. Dubai’s desalination plants use two technologies: multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) and reverse osmosis (RO) (DEWA Annual Statistics 2019). Six plants use MSF (DEWA Annual Statistics 2019). MSF involves multiple stages of flash distillation in which seawater is heated by steam that is cooled and collected from remaining saltwater, and the process repeats until only pure water and brine are left (Atherton 2017). RO uses membranes and pressure to filter saltwater (Atherton 2017). Dubai’s one RO-desalination plant accounts for 5.3% of desalination capacity (DEWA Annual Statistics 2019), but DEWA plans to increase that figure to 41% by 2030 because RO requires less energy than MSF (Khaleej Times 2021).

Cost, energy, and pollution are the three main drawbacks of desalination. Firstly, water desalination is the only viable option for large scale water consumption in Dubai because of the natural limitation of the surrounding watershed so higher costs are inevitable. Secondly, desalination is extremely energy intensive. Natural gas peers Dubai’s plants (Power Technology), so DEWA imposes a fuel surcharge of $0.0002395 per liter to partially reflect those costs (DEWA 2021). Third and arguably most important, desalination produces 50 percent more brine than clean water after (Jones et al. 2019). Since brine has a higher salt concentration than sea water, it can disrupt marine ecosystems. In addition, toxic elements such as copper and chlorine are often found in brine (Jones et al. 2019). The authorities have not conducted a holistic impact assessment of the impacts of brine discharges.

DEWA plans to build a solar-powered desalination plant that can desalinate water with clean energy and waste heat by 2030 (Gordon 2019 and Khaleej Times 2021), but it will take some time before all water sources are climate friendly.

Bottom Line: Dubai’s climate, geography, and population reflects its dependence on desalinated water even though it is more expensive, energy intensive, and polluting. Dubai is working to “green” its technology and reduce water consumption, but results have yet to reveal their effectiveness.

* Please help my Water Scarcity students by commenting on unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data sources, or maybe just saying something nice 🙂

Interesting stuff

  1. Read: “Natural” gas propaganda explains why many homes have gas — and so many people suffer from indoor air pollution.
  2. Listen: Michael Mann has coined a new word (“inactivists”) to describe the oil & gas lobbyists who urge us to do nothing while their products destroy our atmosphere. Listen in and vote for change (carbon taxes, no more energy subsidies) before you worry about your carbon footprint (another inactivist ploy borrowed from the cancer cigarette industry)
  3. Read: Good news! The EU’s ETS market is coming alive (prices over €40/ton), and [my prediction] profit seekers are going to push to make it bigger (so they can make more money)
  4. Read: Repair and reuse your clothes!
  5. Read: The value of macroeconomics in a few points (b/c that’s all there are)
  6. Listen: New world order? An interview with a member of Facebook’s “Supreme Court of free speech”
  7. Listen: A discussion with Anand Giridharadas on profits vs society
  8. Read: Zoom fatigue is a thing and there are ways to reduce it
  9. Read: I told you so Part I: Back in 2008-2011, I was writing about the failures of federal (US) flood insurance. It seems that US legislators (bounced by climate chaos) are starting to catch up…
  10. I told you so, Part II: Back in 2013, we were unable to fly via Dallas due to “freak” cold weather. I blogged on that event as a harbinger of climate chaos to come. A few weeks ago, Texas was again hit by “freak” cold weather… and now they are dusting off recommendations from 2014 that lobbyists fought to stop. What about next time?

The green gold rush

Kyra writes*

A superfood, the green gold, or simply the avocado; who’s not a fan? With a 27% increase in the global demand of 2017 alone, it is fair to say that the avocado business is booming. Rising revenues from avocado exports encourage production: the value of Chile’s exports increased by 76% between 2009 and 2019, from $170 million to $300 million. But what are the costs of producing green gold?

Let’s start with the environmental consequences. Avocado’s environmentally destructive monoculture depletes the soil of nutrients, threatens ecosystems, and contributes to extreme weather events. These problems exist for other mono-cultures, but avocado’s are also thirsty: one avocado requires up to 320 litres of water, or 64 times the water needed for one tomato.

Chile is vulnerable to climate change and is already facing problems with drying rivers, compromised water quality, and falling groundwater levels.

This deteriorating environment inevitably impacts the Chilean citizens. In regions where water is scarce, local communities are protesting. They argue that the quantity (a 50 litre allowance per day) and quality (coliform levels above legal limits) of the water they receive violates their human rights. Local communities believe Chile’s privatised water system makes them suffer while their neighbours thrive as they sprinkle avocados with 100,000 litres per day.

In 1981, under Pinochet’s military regime, Chile’s water became privatised, so water rights can be owned and traded.** Individuals and corporations get their water rights through the Dirección General de Aguas, or simply via the open market. Once obtained, it is theirs, and the state can no longer intervene. The market grants water rights to the first applicant with the highest bid. In Chile, this system has translated into rich individuals and large international corporations hoarding water for economic purposes, through the collection of water rights, digging of wells, and instalment of pipes.

Chile’s avocado plantations thus bring great economic success, but also depleted aquifers, contaminated water, and unhappy local communities. It is hence not surprising that ‘green gold’ fuels conflict between local communities claiming water as a common good and corporations that prefer private water. Human right activists, environmentalists and local citizens protest that the water code places profit over people: “we end up drinking water with shit in it, just for them to send off some good avocados to Europe. MODATIMA, a social movement against privatised water, blames the large-scaled avocado producers for water theft, and adds that access to water should not be a privilege, but a right. On top of this, they advocate for the 2,000 local avocado farms that were sold to a few large, international corporations. Economic power should be dispersed, they claim, and “our basic human right to clean and sufficient water should be met”.

The rich individuals and corporations, however, state that these social uprisings are perception-based: the state is responsible for the initial allocation of water rights, and the market only for the reallocation of these rights. The market only reallocates 15 % of all water rights, and they therefore argue that it does not significantly contribute to the unequal distribution across sectors. Besides this, the president of Agropetroca, an association that defends the agribusinesses of Petorca, explains how local communities have actually benefitted from the economic power of this growing industry, and the new avocado farms in the region.

As summarised by Daniel Bosch, a large-scaled avocado producer in Petorca: “15 years ago, this was the poorest district of Chile, but thanks to us, this area has improved considerably. Bosch and his fellow producers do acknowledge the urgency of water scarcity and its consequences, but thus simply believe the problem lies within the initial state allocation, and not the market reallocation. They argue that water markets help to achieve a greater efficiency in water use and the reallocation of resources, and therefore actually reduce the negative impacts of droughts.

Bottom Line: Chile’s avocado plantations cause great economic success, but also depleted aquifers, contaminated water and unhappy citizens. This fuels conflict between corporations and local communities, who either love or hate Chile’s privatised water system. Whether the rights of use to water remain private or not, Chile’s main priority should be to adopt a water management strategy that is more flexible: it should respond and adapt to its rapidly-changing social, political and ecological climate, whilst providing its citizens with equal access to safe and sufficient water.

* Please help my Water Scarcity students by commenting on unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data sources, or maybe just saying something nice 🙂

** Note from DZ: Water is “private” in terms of rights of use (usufruct) but not ownership, which remains with the State.