|Hauhs, M; Graefe, O: Sustainable use of water from natural and social science perspective, Geography Compass, 3, 1-20 (2009), doi:10.1111/j.1749-8198.2009.00283.x [Link]|
Several seemingly incompatible meanings of water coexist today and are implicated in the organisation of sustainable water usage by humans. We review the conceptual basis of the dominating natural science approach to water as a finite resource. This physical approach shows limits relevant for the notion of sustainability. Valuation and interpretation of human–water relationships as meaningful, which are still widespread in practice and are studied by humanities, appear as irrational under this approach. The natural science perspective is complemented by a second, novel modelling paradigm which is based on a refined notion of behaviour and has been developed in computer science. No single model is superior along the whole water cycle, but the varying influences of living systems along the cycle may require different model abstractions and concepts. The novel extended modelling approach can be formally used to accommodate hermeneutic approaches to the meaning of water typical of social sciences. It organises a systematic ‘fact-valueintegration’ rather than the separation typical of natural science. Hence, traditional and modern approaches to the organisation of sustainable water utilisation can be compared from a consistent and systematic conceptual basis linking natural and social sciences.