Whose Water Is It?: The Unquenchable Thirst of a Water-Hungry World

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Bernadette McDonald, Douglas Jehl
CENGAGE Learning, Oct 1, 2004 - Nature - 232 pages
5 Reviews
Less than one percent of the Earth's water is fresh water available for drinking, irrigation, and industry.By 2025, the UN expects more than half the world's population will lack sufficient water to cover basic needs. Each and every day two million tons of waste is deposited into water supplies. Water-related diseases kill 10,000 to 20,000 children each day. Since 1970 the water supply has declined by 33 percent. Mankind has always taken water for granted. For the first time, we must face a new reality: Not only is this precious resource not inexhaustible, it's already so scarce that great swaths of our planet are under serious threat. Asia's Aral Sea, once one of the largest inland bodies of water, is now a salty desert; 90 percent of California's wetlands have vanished; the once-mighty Nile, Ganges, and Colorado Rivers barely reach the sea in dry seasons. In this provocative and important book, 14 prominent environmental writers address every aspect of the looming crisis. They explore the paradox that, on a blue planet like ours, little of that resource is actually available for use, and offer alarming and persuasive evidence that we are using what we have much faster than it can be replenished-a problem that will only grow worse as the global population grows and the rate of climate change and airborne pollution quickens. They show the dire consequences of current trends, from desertification to epidemic disease to increasingly bitter battles over who "owns" water and how to apportion our dwindling supply. But alongside their timely and troubling warning, they also describe strategies for averting disaster. Focused on the crucial years of the immediate future, this book is a blueprint that calls for change-in our personal lives, our attitudes, and our industries-that promises long-term solutions. Whose Water Is It? is both fascinating and frightening as it portrays a thirsty world that must transform itself to survive. The book is divided into four sections, each with an introduction. Ownership, discusses the increasing preciousness of water, a commodity that most law and cultures regard as essentially free. Its essays explore water's ecological, spiritual and economic value, its allocation, its pricing, and its ownership. Scarcity, examines the paradox of how this watery planet has increasingly become one in which humans face water scarcity. Its essays, from different parts of the world, shine a light on issues that include storage and distribution, upstream-downstream links, population, and pollution. Conflict, focuses on increasing tensions over water, between neighbors, regions, and countries. Its essays examine transboundary issues, water-sharing agreements and the potential for real conflicts in the 21st century. Prospects, looks ahead over the next two decades, to consider how climate change and pollution may affect water supplies, but also how innovative solutions-involving both quantity and quality-may cushion their impact. Its essays cover the themes of contamination, integrated watershed management, water-use efficiency, conservation, and the impact of technology. Authors include Margaret Catley-Carlson, Maude Barlow, Marq de Villiers, Robert Glennon, Lester Brown, Aaron Wolfe, Mike Dombeck, David Hayes, Dr. David Schindler, Dr. David Suzuki, Hans Scheier, Peter Gleick, and Robert Glennon. With a foreword by former Senator Paul Simon, who addressed the United Nations on behalf of the issue in 2003.

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Review: Whose Water Is It?: The Unquenchable Thirst of a Water-Hungry World

User Review  - Jenny Boyce - Goodreads

I really enjoyed this book! It was informative without being too technical or impossible to understand. Read full review

Review: Whose Water Is It?: The Unquenchable Thirst of a Water-Hungry World

User Review  - Jennifer Boyce - Goodreads

I really enjoyed this book! It was informative without being too technical or impossible to understand. Read full review

About the author (2004)

McDonald is the director of the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

DOUGLAS JEHL is a national correspondent for the New York Times, specializing in environmental affairs. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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