I ama water economist, and I'm back for my 4th AMA! Let's talk about water shortages, floods, climate change, human rights, corruption and any other way water flows through our lives
Edit 2 (20:50) Going to dinner. Back in an hour. Vote, THEN search THEN leave a new comment :)
Edit 1 (20:00 CET) Lots of Qs are coming in. Please upvote those that need replies and SeaRCH to see if your Q has been asked!
I'm David Zetland, a water economist who works on understanding and improving water policies in all sectors (agriculture, drinking water, environmental flows) and all parts of the world.
Here's a 6 min video explaining how to divide water among economic and social uses, why markets are better than politics for dividing economic water sues, and how to price urban for scarcity (without harming
the poorthose who use less water).
I grew up in California, got my PhD at UC Davis in 2008, and now live in Amsterdam. I've traveled in over 90 countries, so I'm always interested in understanding more about local water management (and problems). I joined reddit 7 years ago and LOVE this community.
When I am not doing stuff like this, I work as an assistant professor at Leiden University College in Den Haag -- the top ranked liberal arts school in the Netherlands. (If you're thinking lib arts, check us out. We have about 50% non-Dutch students and cost about half as much as liberal arts in the US. For EU students, tuition + living expenses total about €15k/year.) I really love this job because I work in an interdisciplinary environment with fun colleagues and really great students. I teach microeconomics, environmental economics, common pool resource management, growth and development, and "manage" our minor in social and business entrepreneurship.
I am currently working on a project called "Life Plus 2 Meters" (twitter facebook) that will help people understand the impacts of climate change (arriving primarily via the water cycle) as well as how humans will adapt to those impacts. I am looking for authors to contribute "visions" of 700-1,000 words. This is a multi-disciplinary, no-PhD required project, so check out the author page if you are interested or know someone who should contribute!
Protip: Before posting a new question, please search for keywords (e.g., desalination, bottled water, Nestle) and post into existing threads. I will be monitoring as many threads as possible!
More background information/FAQ:
- I've blogged at aguanomics for 8+ years and tweet @aguanomics. Get the most from these outputs
- My blogging has led to two books, End of Abundance and Living with Water Scarcity (comparison PDF). Here's the FREE PDF of Living, which is also available en Español.
- I've published on water auctions, a human right to water, desalination and politics, water tariffs, groundwater taxes in the Netherlands, water meters in the UK, etc.
- I've written for popular and professional audiences as well!
- My PhD dissertation "Conflict and Cooperation within an Organization: A Case Study of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California" still explains a lot of the clusterfuck of Southern California water.
- Previous AMAs Apr 2015, Nov 2014, Jul 2014
- How to price urban water for conservation in California and Pricing water for conservation, fairness and fiscal stability
- Three billion (not one billion!) people lack access to SAFE water
- Using auctions to reallocate water among farmers or between different sectors
Why am I here? I traveled a lot before going to grad school at 32 years old. I found that "academics" spend far too little time engaging with real people on real problems or explaining their work to non-academic audiences (YMMV). I started blogging in grad school because I wanted to deal with real problems. Most academics say "wait until you get tenure" (and then do nothing), but this move has worked out for me. I always learn from these conversations. Hopefully, you can learn more about the issues that matter to you.
Fun fact: My advisor once said that I was a "loose cannon" because I wasn't afraid to question authority or the conventional wisdom. I wear that badge with pride, as our civilization is built on discovery and innovation, not timid ignorance. (I'm a big fan of free speech.)
How do economics and politics apply differently to water? Economics, markets and prices are better at dealing with "commodity" water, i.e., "excludable" water that can be sold/kept for one user without fear of others using that water. Politics, cooperation and votes are better for dealing with "community" water, i.e., "non-excludable" water that must be shared among many. Most trouble in water management comes from failing to price/allocate commodity water in a way that balances supply and demand (e.g., no water service) OR failing to protect community water from overuse/pollution (e.g., environmental pollution). Both of my books are broken into Parts I and II to reflect these different management paradigms.