Water Wars

Drought, Flood, and the Politics of Thirst

By Diane Raines Ward
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781573222297, 288pp.)

Publication Date: August 5, 2002

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Description

"This is a wonderful book, a wake-up call of startling clarity and insight, with a flood of facts and anecdotes that place the abstract into riveting human perspective. I will never turn on the rap again without thinking about where water comes from and where it goes." (Ken Burns, producer and director of the Civil War, Baseball, and Jazz documentaries.)

The story of water is complex, with roots as deep as civilization itself, but what we hear about it today is simple and stark: the world's supply is in severe crisis. Even when we're not confronted with alarming news of another drought, we're reminded of environmental changes and a growing world population that threaten to turn water into a matter over which wars will be fought. Despite these urgent warnings, how many of us can say we understand the elemental forces that brought us to such a precarious state, or what we might do to get out of it?

Taking us on a world tour of the most hotly contested water climates, and introducing us to some of the most passionate advocates to emerge from them, Diane Raines Ward gives us a compelling account of where we've come from, and where we need to go. Why is the Fertile Crescent, historically one of the most lush places on earth, fast becoming a region of scarcity? What do Dutch watermen, steeped in their centuries-old, folkloric battle to protect their coasts, know about rising seas that we don't? Why are certain environmentalists so eager to dismantle thousands of years' worth of engineered solutions to distributing water? And how is it that the very technology vilified by conservationists may be the only thing that can save us? Through a narrative that's breathtakingly clear and filled with fresh insight, Ward answers these and other paradoxical questions, and gives us a bold perspective on a subject to which our fate is inextricably bound.

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