Review of David Zetland, Living with Water Scarcity, Aguanomics Press, 2014
it’s cowboys facing off over a muddy water hole in an old Western, or
the dirty looks you get if you fill your supermarket basket with bottled
water, no one ever denied that people feel strongly about water. David
Zetland’s new book, Living with Water Scarcity,
explores hot-button water issues in a refreshingly pragmatic way. There
are no “-isms,” no blanket condemnations of government or capital.
Zetland does care about water—he cares passionately—but he keeps his
rhetoric cool while he explains how government water managers have too
often failed to do their job while markets, which have worked where they
have been tried, need to be used more widely.
The right price
begins with a simple distinction between scarcity and shortage. Water
is scarce in the sense that different people have different purposes for
it—drinking, growing crops, sustaining flows to streams and
wetlands—but there is not enough to meet all of them all in full. Water
is not unique in that regard. We spend our time and money in pursuit of
scarce goods every day. We would always like to have more time and
money, but we live with what we have.
Shortage is different. A
shortage means you can’t get the water you want no matter how much time
and money you have. A shortage is a sign of failure to manage scarcity.>>>Read more
Econ profs: "Living with Water Scarcity" can serve as a parable for scarcity in general. At just 114 pages and $5 for the e-book (discounts available for 20 or more copies), you might consider using it as a supplement for you principles of micro course.