The Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity

The Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity

by Sandra Postel
     
 

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For decades now we have wasted and mismanaged the world's water supplies. Today, 27 countries are short of water, a quarter of the world's population has no safe water, 46 per cent have no proper sanitation and each year four million children die of water-borne diseases. As most of the world's major river systems cross several national boundaries, the scope disputes

Overview

For decades now we have wasted and mismanaged the world's water supplies. Today, 27 countries are short of water, a quarter of the world's population has no safe water, 46 per cent have no proper sanitation and each year four million children die of water-borne diseases. As most of the world's major river systems cross several national boundaries, the scope disputes and the threat to international security is becoming more and more real. In The Last Oasis, Sandra Postel examines the economic, ecological and political factors affecting fresh water supply. She confronts the issues of mismanagement and profligacy and analyses and dangers of confrontation, both between nations and between rural and urban users. She also emphasises that the technology and know-how for effective water husbandry does exist. With methods already in use, farmers could cut their demand for water by 40-90 per cent, and cities by one-third, without sacrificing economic output or quality of life. Investing in water efficiency, recycling and conservation help meet rising demands and stave off disaster. But the priority is a common recognition of the gravity of the position, and with that a widespread push for institutions to manage sustainable use of water.

Editorial Reviews

Gilbert Taylor
Rule one for repent-now tracts is read them backward. The last chapter in this Worldwatch polemic sketches the hell in store for sinners (in this case, water wasters), along with inducements to change their behavior. The way to avoid wars, food shortages, and ecological catastrophe, according to Postel, is to reduce profligate farm and urban water consumption. This is achieved through microtechnologies (drip irrigation, for example) combined with sharply increased prices. Postel advances this argument in the name of creating a market--most water is controlled and sold by government monopolies. But her imagined "market" is simply price control on a higher level. Which probably explains her fondness for a legal notion aborning in California: a "public trust doctrine," by which certain goals (e.g., full-flow rivers) that are deemed (litigated?) to be paramount assets are entrusted to government. To be sure, Postel inveighs with stats against patent disasters, such as aquifer depletion or the desertification of the Aral Sea. The combination of sweet reason with a slant, however, is apt to interest policy entrepreneurs rather than the widest public.
Booknews
Postel, vice president for research of the Worldwatch Institute, examines the worldwide limits--ecological, economic, and political--of water, and discloses existing methods to make water go further, decreasing the likelihood of both scarcity and conflict. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women
Imagine America going to war over water. Don't think it will ever happen? Think again. Water scarcity is a real problem, one which is growing exponentially. That fact water seems so readily available and inexpensive (the "illusion of plenty" as the author states it), and people's overuse and lack of respect towards this life-sustaining resource are only some of the causes for the water crisis. Sandra Postel has written a stunning account which discloses the atrocious amount of neglect and mismanagement of water. Fortunately, there are solutions which offer hope for restoring and sustaining our essential lifeline, all of which are economically and environmentally friendly. Last Oasis is a red flag to farmers, industry and families, warning us that if the alternatives are not enacted, we are, most assuredly, destined for a worldwide crisis.
—SH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781134161652
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
07/16/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Sandra Postel lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she directs the Global Water Policy Project. She is a Pew Fellow in Conservation and the Environment and a former vice president for research at the Worldwatch Institute. Her previous book, Last Oasis, now appears in eight languages and was the basis for a PBS television documentary.

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