The Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity

Overview

It is no coincidence that human civilization sprang from river valleys and floodplains. Access to water has been crucial to our food security and to the growth of cities and industries. In recent times, the fortunate have come to take water for granted: Endless supplies seem to flow from dams, reservoirs, wells, and diversion projects. But for decades now we have wasted and mismanaged the world's water. Engineering projects, ever larger as demands spiral upward, have created an illusion of plenty even in the ...
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The Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity

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Overview

It is no coincidence that human civilization sprang from river valleys and floodplains. Access to water has been crucial to our food security and to the growth of cities and industries. In recent times, the fortunate have come to take water for granted: Endless supplies seem to flow from dams, reservoirs, wells, and diversion projects. But for decades now we have wasted and mismanaged the world's water. Engineering projects, ever larger as demands spiral upward, have created an illusion of plenty even in the midst of scarcity. Gross underpricing has concealed the need for careful management. We have come to view water strictly as a resource that is there for the taking, rather than as a living system that drives the natural world on which we depend. We are entering a new era - an era of water scarcity. The signs are evident the world over: shrinking lakes and seas, depleted river flows, and falling groundwater levels. Chronic shortages could unfold this decade in much of Africa, northern China, pockets of India, Mexico, the Middle East, and parts of western North America. Already 26 countries have too little water to support their populations sustainably. We hear rumblings of potential war over water in the Middle East. And competition for supplies is brewing between city-dwellers and farmers around Beijing, New Delhi, Phoenix, and other water-short areas. In this, the third volume in the Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series, Sandra Postel examines the limits - ecological, economic, and political - of water. Postel, vice president for research of the Worldwatch Institute, writes with authority and clarity of these emerging threats to our future. And, perhaps most important, she offers a disarmingly sensible way out of such struggles. Last Oasis discloses that the technologies and know-how exist today to make every drop of water go further, decreasing the likelihood of both scarcity and conflict. Postel shows us that with currently available methods, agricultur
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Editorial Reviews

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781853831485
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/22/1992
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.51 (d)

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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Table of Contents

An Illusion of Plenty
I Trouble on Tap - Signs of Scarcity - Engineering's Promise - Bread and Water - Paradise Lost - Hydropolitics - A World Heating Up
II Living Within Water's Limits - Thrifty Irrigation - Small-Scale Solutions - Wastewater No More - Industrial Recycling - Conserving in Cities
III Toward Water Security - Pricing, Markets and Regulations - A Water Ethic

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