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Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618127445, Paperback)Water is a curious thing, observed the economist Adam Smith: although it is vital to life, it costs almost nothing, whereas diamonds, which are useless for survival, cost a fortune. In Water, Canadian journalist de Villiers says the resource is still undervalued, but it is becoming more precious. It's not that the world is running out of water, he adds, but that "it's running out in places where it's needed most."
De Villiers examines the checkered history of humankind's management of water--which, he hastens to remind us, is not a renewable resource in many parts of the world. One of them is the Nile River region, burdened by overpopulation. Another is the Sahara, where Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi is pressing an ambitious, and potentially environmentally disastrous, campaign to mine deep underground aquifers to make the desert green. Another is northern China, where the damaging effects of irrigation have destroyed once-mighty rivers, and the Aral Sea of Central Asia, which was killed within a human lifetime. And still another is the American Southwest, where crops more fitting to a jungle than a dry land are nursed. De Villiers travels to all these places, reporting on what he sees and delivering news that is rarely good.
De Villiers has a keen eye for detail and a solid command of the scientific literature on which his argument is based. He's also a fine storyteller, and his wide-ranging book makes a useful companion to Marc Reisner's classic Cadillac Desert and other works that call our attention to a globally abused--and vital--resource. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:13 -0400)
Examines how water has been used to create and destroy civilizations throughout history and discusses the problems that could arise in the future if the world's water supply isn't protected.
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