BookPDF Available

The Cool Water Effect: Civilization's Turn into Human Empowerment


Abstract and Figures

Over several thousand years since the emergence of states, societies remained entrapped in cycles of despotic power building and decay—until civilization matured in areas with a cool and rainy climate, what we call the “cool water” (CW) condition. In CW-areas, agriculture and urbanization at a level known since millennia from the pristine civilizations of the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Asia and Mesoamerica emerged late. This only happened during late medieval times with the rise of pre-industrial capitalism in Northwestern Europe, and somewhat later in Japan during the Tokugawa era. Since then, the evolution of civilization suddenly accelerated to an unprecedented speed, proliferating technological, organizational and cultural innovations of a previously unparalleled scale. In addition to this massive acceleration, the civilization process took a sharp turn into a whole new direction. Indeed, the lead theme of the civilization process turned from perfecting mass exploitation into advancing human empowerment—a process that prolongs and improves human lives and places more choice into people's own hands. After human empowerment started in some of the Old World's CW-areas, the process spilled over into the CW-areas of the New World. This happened with the settlement of Europe-an farmers in North America, Australia and New Zealand. From then on, the CW-areas in both the Old and the New World continued to drive human empowerment towards consecutive emancipatory outcomes, from human rights to civil liberties to electoral democracy. But until very recently, human empowerment remained the privilege of a small segment of the world population in a triple sense. First, human empowerment only advanced in CW-areas, whereas tropical, sub-tropical and arid regions fell victim to the most exploitative forms of colonialism. Second, in the CW-territories of the New World, the indigenous populations have been decimated, marginalized and excluded from the benefits of human empowerment. Third, even where human empowerment advanced with highest speed, women remained discriminated relative to men. Since several decades, however, these limitations are quickly fading under the rising tide of women’s emancipation and sexual liberation around the world. This emancipatory breakthrough now makes women part of human empowerment and spreads the process into areas that lack the geo-climatic features of the CW-condition. Hence, human empowerment is about to feminize and to globalize at the same time. This book examines the deep causes of this civilizational turn, analyzing the role of geography, genes, disease, agriculture, language, religion, statehood, colonialism, law traditions and other institutional factors, such as emerging democracy. The evidence shows that, among multiple possible paths towards human empowerment today, there is only one narrow route of significance. The very narrowness of this route explains why it took civilization so long to reach to-wards human empowerment. The narrow route was entered when urban markets began to flourish under the CW-condition. Urbanization under the CW-condition—and only under this condition—encouraged a transition in people's lifetime investment from reproduction to learning. This transition has been further supported as states began to provide public schools and to promote universal education. With rising mass-level education, an enlightenment process set in that mobilized the populations’ cognitive potentials and their aspirations for emancipatory rights—the ingredients of human empowerment. In the era of accelerating globalization, human empowerment escapes with increasing speed its gender bias as well as its initial limitation to CW-areas. After outlining these insights, this book also discusses policy implications for development aid.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... In simple terms, where China built its civilization around the family under an emperor, Japan built its own around the community under an administration with (but not under) an 488 G. Redding emperor, and the West around the civic-conscious individual. Reflecting these different focusses of identity is a measure of civicness (Welzel, Alexander, & Klasen, 2017): on a scale of 100 China scores 5, Japan 40, and the UK 95. The axioms that shape social coordination are not the same, nor are the behavioural responses that enact them. ...
We turn to history with a biobehavioral perspective, focusing specifically on medieval and modern Western Europe. We observe that many social scientists and theorists maintain that premodern forms of Western social life were more communitarian and purposive than their modern counterparts, but frequently provide no substantive basis for this view.
Full-text available
Today's comparatively warm climate has been the exception more than the rule during the last 500,000 years or more. If recent warm periods (or interglacials) are a guide, then we may soon slip into another glacial period. But [Berger and Loutre][1] argue in their Perspective that with or without human perturbations, the current warm climate may last another 50,000 years. The reason is a minimum in the eccentricity of Earth's orbit around the Sun. [1]:
Becker and other theorists of knowledge society and human capital
  • Cite Toffler
  • Drucker
  • Florida
  • Bell
Cite Toffler, Drucker, Florida, Bell, Becker and other theorists of knowledge society and human capital.
Drucker on the characteristics of knowledge societies; perhaps Nye on the advantages and ingredients of "soft power
  • Toffler Bell
Bell, Toffler, Drucker on the characteristics of knowledge societies; perhaps Nye on the advantages and ingredients of "soft power."
Irrigation, Collectivism and Long-run Technological Divergence
  • J C Cite
  • Buggle
Cite J.C. Buggle, "Irrigation, Collectivism and Long-run Technological Divergence" 279
Cite Acemoglu & Robinson for the "reversal of fortunes" 121
  • Lenski Nolan
Cite Acemoglu & Robinson for the "reversal of fortunes" 121 Nolan and Lenski...
The Household in the Making of History
  • Cite Hartman
Cite Hartman, The Household in the Making of History...
Coale & Watkins 1986) is often cited as evidence that the fertility decline started in France and that socioeconomic transformations had little to do with this decline
The European Fertility Project at Princeton University (Coale & Watkins 1986) is often cited as evidence that the fertility decline started in France and that socioeconomic transformations had little to do with this decline. Brown and Guinnane (2007), however, object these claims.
Cite Hernando Zuleta's work on seasonality
Cite Hernando Zuleta's work on seasonality (Journal of Economic Development 2012)...