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Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw
The opening chapter of this book makes the intellectual and political argument for a more critical understanding of seawater desalination as an emerging phenomenon of water governance. Its purpose, in this sense, is to politicise seawater. The chapter provides an overview of the historic and contemporary development of desalting technologies and the global desalination industry. We argue that, rather than seeing desalination as a water management ‘solution’, it should instead be understood as a socio-technical and political ecological ‘fix’, which allows cities, regions and countries to overcome some of the hydrological barriers to growth and accumulation, while creating or intensifying other social and ecological contradictions. These contradictions, we demonstrate, revolve around the governance of water, privatisation and commercialisation, the water-energy nexus, and marine ecology. Finally, we summarise the substantive chapters included in the book.
Xue Han and Jorge Niosi
Justin Alger and Peter Dauvergne
Following the rapid growth in scholarship in global environmental politics since the 1990s, it is time for a reinvigorated research agenda in the field. This chapter outlines the current state of global environmental politics research through the lenses of global political economy, international institutions and nonstate governance, ecological crisis, climate politics, and scholar activism and engaged research. By identifying gaps and emerging issues, it distills a research agenda for current and future scholars of global environmental politics. There is, in particular, a growing need for research that: (a) more closely connects social phenomena to global environmental impacts and change; and (b) asks more innovative and expansive questions rather than filling niches on issues with already extensive scholarship. As it is a relatively new field that seeks to address an escalating global environmental crisis, there is still plenty of room for emerging scholars of global environmental politics to ask big questions.