As the subtitle suggests, a crisis-oriented take on the problems of water management in a world where demand is steadily rising and mismanagement abounds.
Rothfeder (Privacy for Sale, not reviewed, etc.), editor of PC Magazine and a former editor of Business Week and Bloomberg News, follows what seems to be the standard polemic approach: dramatize, simplify, include scary statistics. He makes it all highly readable with tales of reckless dam-building, disastrous floods, theft of an entire water supply system, and lots of chicanery, greed, and downright foolishness in high places. He hops about the globe, looking at Los Angeles’s past and present searches for water, Florida’s efforts to restore the Everglades, fights over control of water in Bolivia and the Middle East, the failed struggle to provide water to a village in Kenya, and the building of giant dams in Egypt and China. The actions of multinational corporations are generally depicted as rapacious, and governments at all levels are frequently seen as shortsighted. The author argues that failure to regard water as a human right rather than an economic need is central to the issue. While desalination is touched on and the towing of giant plastic bags of fresh water from have to have-not areas is mentioned, in general, serious efforts being taken to resolve water-management problems get short shrift. At the end, Rothfeder appears to lose the thread of his story, veering off into an account of the discovery of a massive bacteria-generating hydrothermal vent in the Atlantic Ocean in December of 2000, and of NASA’s announcement that it had found evidence of water on Mars in July of the same year.
Disappointing in its scattergun approach, but, still, a success in calling attention to a serious issue.