Thursday, May 25, 2006

When The Rivers Run Dry

I just finished reading yet another book, When the Rivers Run Dry by Fred Pearce. This book was interesting as to the world's use and need for fresh water.

The author explores the Earth's rivers from the largest such as the Nile, Mississippi, Congo, Yangtze, Amazon to so many others that would seem unimportant yet in many ways are even more important than the giants of flows. He examines the uses and abuses that rivers are subjected to by humanity.

Rivers provide so many things for us, from drinking water to agricultural needs, from hydroelectrical power to transportation, from fishing to sewage. The manipulation of rivers by humans for our needs has as well produced major problems. We've engineered them to the point we can't control them at times of high rains, causing more flooding than they would have had before we built the dams and levees. Our dams destroy inhabited lands when built and destroy the river itself from being natural.

Mr. Pearce goes to places where these clashes between modern industrial ideas for rivers and traditional uses such as farming and drinking water meet with mixed results. Many places are returning to traditional ideas for fresh water in response. Beyond just rivers, the book covers other sources of fresh water, such as rain water, ground water and desalinzation plants.

As the world's population continues to grow the need for water becomes ever more critical. The battle for who rules the water increases. Questions are emerging that will beg for answers. Whose water needs are more important? How much will water cost? Do we want water intense crops more than water friendly agriculture? Is watering lawns more important than clean drinking water? Do industrial water needs have more importance than flushing toilets? The questions go on and Fred Pearce asks so many and tries to provide answers.


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