You turn a tap. The water flows: clean and, if not abundantly, at least steadily. You are the lucky one in two humans.
Mulder’s book will make readers stop and calculate. Not only does half the world’s population not have a ready water supply, but often what they do have is filthy—perhaps contaminated with microbes and arsenic—or plain poisonous. This account is particularly handy, as it goes back to the beginning, to the water cycle and the humans harvesting water: how it has been collected and distributed throughout history. The great Middle Eastern and European aqueducts, the deep wells, dew nets—truly feats of engineering marvel. It moves through the Middle Ages and, with them, the real start of water contamination and the spread of water-borne disease. Lavishly illustrated with everything from woodcuts to photographs, the book is far from downbeat and scolding. Much is being done to source and purify water, and much is also being done to work on the sanitation issue. Mulder writes with a clean, no-nonsense style that demonstrates that people have finally come around to realizing that only 1 percent of the water on Earth is potable and we must be careful of this resource.
Informative, attractive and alarming—readers will think twice before leaving the water running as they brush their teeth. (Nonfiction. 8-12)