Water to Human Geography Human Essay

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However, the rapid pace of urbanization in Asian, African and Latin American countries has served to stimulate "several studies of water problems in megacities, secondary cities, peri-urban areas, and squatter settlements." (Muir, 2007)

That the management of water is emphasized on the state level in the United States is stated to come as little surprise in a country characterized by a federal system of government. This is because "Constitutional authority for water law and policy rests principally at the state level of government." (Muir, 2007) Muir notes that there has been a neglect of 'interstate water relations due to an emphasis on "interstate river basins and regulated rivers. River basin surveys were one of the earliest forms of water resource geography, dating back to the work of Phillipe Bauache in eighteen-century France, developing slowly in the nineteenth century with surveys of the upper Mississippi River by Claude Nicollet and Western basins by John Wesley Powell, and then expanding rapidly in the 1930s." (Muir, 2007) During the 1990s there was important "regional-scale research" conducted in several areas including:

(1) drought in the Southwestern and Western U.S.;

(2) River basin studies; and (3) Regulated rivers research. (Muir, 2007)

The Southwestern U.S. states are reported to still be experiencing drought.

VII. Human Adaptation

The work of Orlove (2005) entitled: "Human adaptation to climate change: a review of three historical cases and some general perspective" examines mitigation and adaptation in the area of human ecology and states that the word adaptation "has a number of different meanings" however within the IPCC framework adaptation has been defined as "adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or there effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities." (Orlove, 2005) Failure to adapt by populations is stated to results in the collapse of that population. In fact it is stated that while less conclusively "the evolution of human culture and language has also been linked...to the extensive climate fluctuations of the Pleistocene that required more complex patterns of social learning and transmission." (Orlove, 2005) One such case highlighted is the southern portion of the Great Plains in the United States (Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico) a region with rich soils and a climate that supports deep layer of humus formations with some areas having relatively alkaline soils. As history tells it the dust bowl occurred in the 1930s and following lost crops, soil erosion and farm foreclosures a new federal program, specifically the Great Plains Conservation Program, run by the Agricultural Conservation Program Service began in 1956 and offered farmers 10-year contracts with ensured sales and credit that was subsidized that agreed to "...adopt conservation measures and to shift from agriculture to grazing." (Orlove, 2005)

This program is stated to have facilitated the expansion of irrigation and "new technologies and inexpensive energy made it possible to irrigate large areas with groundwater, chiefly from a groundwater basin known as the Ogallala Aquifer. This basin contains what is essentially fossil groundwater, accumulated in earlier, moister geological eras and drained much faster than it can accumulate." (Orlove, 2005) in fact, the Ogallala Aquifer is still "overexploited, though the rate of withdrawal has slowed down somewhat since the 1980s with rising energy prices and some more efficient irrigation technologies. Nonetheless, this irrigation is clearly unsustainable, and little is being done about it." (Orlove, 2005) it is also noted in the work of Orlove (2005) there little regulation of groundwater exists in the United States falling primarily upon the shoulders to the states rather than upon the shoulders of the federal government.

Summary and Conclusion

Climate change including droughts and floods as well as the lessons learned from experiential water management issues emphasizes the need for well-regulated and well-developed water management programs that effectively facilitate the integration of local authorities, rules and regulations and that coordinate and work collaboratively in meeting the needs of populations in both rural and urban areas of the United States for water. These reforms and changes in water management will require that an open forum of human geographers exist and that information is shared and disseminated widely from one region to the other in formulating water management plans with both up -- and down-stream management optimization so as to avoid the neglected areas of management and the mismanagement characterizing previous decades in this field. Much more research is needed in this area of study of the hydrological technical and mechanistic system known as water resource management.


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