AuthorIsaak, Marissa Tamar
AdvisorBauer, Carl J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 09/07/2020
AbstractIn the last 15 years, Israel has built the largest seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants in the world. The plants satisfy increased demand from population and economic growth. Desalination, the removal of salts and other minerals from water in order to render it useful for drinking, irrigation, or industrial purposes, holds the promise of a reliable, high quality water source unaffected by changing climate or shifting geopolitics. Desalination appears to solve one of the world's most intractable problems: freshwater scarcity. This dissertation will use Israel as a test case to examine underlying theoretical and empirical challenges associated with implementing desalination, asking the question, “Does desalination accomplish all that it promises?” The introductory chapter situates the Israeli case in the larger global trends toward water augmentation through desalination. Chapter two contextualizes the research in the existing literature of ecomodernism, wherein technology is marshaled to solve environmental issues, new “post-political” institutions manage resources, and consensus can facilitate win-win solutions. The chapter also addresses the contribution of science and technology studies, political ecology, and political geography, each of which raises important questions to be addressed by the dissertation. This dissertation then applies ecomodernism to the case of desalination in Israel, asking the following questions: 1. How did Israel become ecomodern? What changes in the water sector over the course of the country’s history brought it to its current status? 2. With the implementation of ecomodern ideals, has Israel accomplished its environmental goals in the water sector? 3. How did political and institutional shifts enable ecomodern desalination to flourish in Israel? To answer these questions, chapter three traces a synthetic history of Israeli water, examining how a sector driven by socialist and Zionist ideology, transitioned into an ecomodern one based on the principles of economic efficiency and rational decisionmaking. Chapter four considers how Israeli environmental non-governmental organizations came to support desalination on environmental grounds despite evidence questioning the efficacy of the “substitution effect,” or the ability for desalinated water to substitute for natural sources. Chapter five points to advent of a new institution, the Israeli Water Authority, and its approach to ensuring post-political consensus in the sector. The dissertation concludes with lessons that other nations might consider when considering a desalination strategy, including environmental and transparency safeguards.
Degree ProgramGraduate College