MALAS 600B: Water Wars: Environmental Exploitation, Resource Scarcity, and Human Rights
Dr. Michael Tiboris
Southern California should be impossible. Annual rainfall here is similar to Iraq, and the main sources of water are a vast and expensive system of aqueducts (some of which are 1,400 miles long, drawing water from the Colorado River basin) propped up by a massive energy system and a management system which is not entirely democratic or technocratic. And yet, it is one of the most successful desert civilizations in the history of the planet. As the population swells, water consumption is on pace to far exceed current supply. In other parts of the world, for example India and Bolivia, similar crises have degenerated into, at times, violent political conflict. Why does this seem unlikely to happen here, or is it just a matter of time, or of history repeating itself? What does the history of water conflict in California's past say about the same in its future?
This course blends resources from history, philosophy, economics, environmental science, and a little bit of poetry to investigate issues of justice in times of resource scarcity. Students will learn about the surprisingly fraught history of water reclamation in the western United States. They will confront questions about whether water is a private commodity or a public good, what it means to "preserve" a "natural" environment, and whether access to water is a basic human right. Course texts include works of social history, environmentalist journalism, economics, philosophy, and contemporary research in the natural sciences all aimed at answering the question: who owns the water and what do we do when it runs out?
Michael Tiboris, Lecturer in Philosophy
Dr. Tiboris's work is broadly ethical, focusing on issues of moral responsibility and autonomous agency in juvenile justice and education. He also has significant research interests in the ethics and economics of resource scarcity. After completing his graduate degree at UCSD (2012) he was awarded a UC postdoc with support from a grant by the Spencer Foundation to write about autonomy as a goal in educational policy. This year he is a fellow at the SDSU Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs specializing in ethics in educational policy. He teaches courses in ethical theory, applied ethics, and political philosophy. An example of his recent work can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.