The human species is unique among living organisms in its capacity for adaptive specialization. This takes the form of identification with the process of adaption itself, not in a physical form or skill specific to an ecological niche. Our survival depends on ability to adapt, not just in a reactive but a proactive sense of shaping the environment. A major instrument and facilitator in our capacity to reinvent and improve upon this innate skill is the continuing development of technology from simple machines of bygone civilizations to today’s sophisticated products of computer technology. Whether the innovation takes the form of a pulley, waterwheel or the evolution of artificial intelligence the bond between human and machine is still a conceptual one of artifact, instrument, human actions and human goals.
The conquest of water, a resource which led to the development of irrigation and the story of mankind in history, is an example of our proactive ability to harness and manipulate natural phenomena for the purposes of survival itself. The legacy of water control development and irrigation is one that reveals moments of great human ingenuity, art in invention and our collective zeal for power.
The circulation system consisting of the storage and transfer of water in nature and society is referred to as the hydrological cycle. Human interference of the natural hydrological cycle is made possible through available technologies, one of which is irrigation. Our manipulations and modifications of this cycle attempt to change the balance of natural storage and transfer--the goal being to implement successful development of agriculture and production. Distribution of water is referred to as spacial and temporal. Spacial relates to the geographical layout of the land used for cultivation and temporal the favorable or unfavorable timing of watering in annual cultivation cycles.
At present, improvements to the allocation and distribution of water through modern irrigation technologies represents a positive aspect of our shift to an increased empathy with our planet, its land and water relationships, climatic zones and ecosystems. We are actors in an ongoing process of manipulating natural cycles through technology, changing the balance of our resource distribution as a result. Indifference to the dire consequences of irresponsible resource management is visible whenever we are confronted with the decline of our natural environment. Ambitious individuals pursue their personal interests today as they have done throughout recorded history, in the face of increasing protest and resistance.