Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-647
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-647
 
18 Jan 2022
18 Jan 2022
Status: this preprint was under review for the journal HESS. A revision for further review has not been submitted.

Socio-hydrology, politicization of water science and implication of the Eyes on Earth Study on the contemporary research dialogue in the Lancang-Mekong Basin

Richard Grünwald1, Wenling Wang1,2, and Yan Feng3 Richard Grünwald et al.
  • 1Institute of International River and Eco-Security/Asian International Rivers Center, Kunming, 650091, China
  • 2Wuhan University China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies, 430072, Wuhan, China
  • 3Yunnan Key Lab of International Rivers and Transboundary Eco-security, 650091, Kunming, China

Abstract. Since April 2020, the Eyes on Earth Study has received significant media attention for considering the Chinese mainstream reservoirs as one of the main drivers for changing the natural water flow and compounding the severe droughts in the Lancang-Mekong Basin. Unlike other hydrological studies, the Eyes on Earth Study polarized the international research community and received unusual media attention. While the Eyes on Earth Study raised public awareness about upstream water operations and motivated civil society to co-develop the water knowledge, there can be found numerous shortcomings and other irregularities in the current research dialogue over the research conclusions. By drawing on the politicization of scientific theories and combining the socio-hydrology with critical political ecology, the presented paper (1) conceptualizes the human-water interaction in the context of the politicization of the EoE Study, (2) reviews current development pathways in contemporary research dialogue in the Lancang-Mekong Basin, and (3) examines contemporary challenges for water science. To re-define the politicization of water science, the constructivist discourse analysis has been applied to investigate the argumentation patterns over the Eyes on Earth Study in the last 18 months (April 2020–September 2021). In addition, we applied the adapted Baker’s model to double-check the content of the EoE Study and degree of alignment with high-quality research inputs. Our data show that (i) benefits from ensuring the standard research procedures outweigh the benefits from using the alternative research procedures, (ii) gradual stratification of contemporary research channels and simplification of research findings contribute to political distrust towards the water science, and (iii) growing intervention of non-traditional actors in the research dialogue produce the gap in applied discourse practices and medialize the desirable water narratives. The topic is highly actual and beneficial for water experts and other interdisciplinary scientists who want to better understand the power of hydrological studies and clarify the incentives undermining the trust in science.

Richard Grünwald et al.

Status: closed (peer review stopped)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-647', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Richard Grünwald, 01 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-647', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Feb 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Richard Grünwald, 01 Mar 2022

Status: closed (peer review stopped)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-647', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Richard Grünwald, 01 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2021-647', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Feb 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Richard Grünwald, 01 Mar 2022

Richard Grünwald et al.

Richard Grünwald et al.

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Short summary
In this text, we show how the Eyes on Earth Study politicizing the Chinese mainstream reservoirs affected the transboundary water governance and how to ensure the accountable research dialogue in water science. Our data show that since the publication of the Eyes on Earth Study in April 2020, there are growing disputes which contribute to the political distrusts, degradation of the water science and the rise of anti-science movements undermining the accountable research dialogue.