NatureFirst USA

Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource

by Marq de Villiers (Author)

Editorial Reviews
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 --This text refers to an out of print or
unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly
A child dies every eight seconds from drinking contaminated water. More than
half of the world's rivers are now so polluted that they pose serious health
risks. One-third of Africa's people already endure conditions of water scarcity,
and water supplies are in jeopardy in China, India, Japan, Spain, southern
France, Australia, the southwestern U.S. and many other parts of Asia and
Europe. Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction in
Canada, de Villiers's important, compelling, highly readable report on the
looming global water crisis sounds a wake-up call for concerned citizens,
environmentalists, policymakers and water-drinkers everywhere. In water matters,
he finds the U.S. "both profligate and caring, rapacious and thrifty," and he
cites studies that warn that the Ogallala Aquifer lying beneath six Great Plains
states will run dry before 2020, imperiling U.S. agriculture as well as grain
exports and posing the risk of a global food crisis. For sheer travelogue
pleasure, his informal survey hops from the Sea of Galilee to Victoria Falls to
a Russian boat ride down the Volga, as he delves into the science, ecology,
folklore, history and politics of water. The news he brings back is ominous:
rapidly growing populations, ever-increasing pollution, desertification and
falling water tables endanger a fragile, finite resource. Avoiding a
gloom-and-doom outlook, his spirited report remains determinedly optimistic,
calling for a bold combination of solutions: conservation, technological
innovation, desalination of sea water, demand-reducing devices like low-flow
faucets and toilets, public policy to reduce water wastefulness and
international cooperation to resolve transnational disputes over water. Rights
sold in seven countries; documentary rights sold.

Product Details

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (July 12, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0618127445



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