Keepers of the Spring: Reclaiming Our Water In An Age Of by Fred Pearce

By Fred Pearce

Water has lengthy been the item of political ambition and clash. contemporary historical past is stuffed with leaders who attempted to harness water to gain nationwide desires. but the folks who so much desire water--farmers, rural villages, impoverished communities--are too frequently left, sarcastically, with desiccated fields, unfulfilled offers, and refugee status.

It does not need to be this manner, in keeping with Fred Pearce. A veteran technology information correspondent, Pearce has for over fifteen years chronicled the improvement of large-scale water initiatives like China's titanic 3 Gorges dam and India's Sardar Sarovar. yet, as he and various different authors have mentioned, faraway from fixing our water difficulties, those business scale tasks, and others now within the making plans, are bringing us to the edge of a world water crisis.

Pearce determined there needed to be a greater way.

To locate it, he traveled the globe looking for choices to mega-engineering tasks. In Keepers of the Spring, he brings again interesting tales from humans like Yannis Mitsis, an ethnic Greek Cypriot, who's the final in his line to understand the methods and whereabouts of a community of underground tunnels that experience for hundreds of years brought to farming groups the water they should live to tell the tale on an arid panorama. He recounts the inspiring studies of small-scale water stewards like Kenyan Jane Ngei, who reclaimed for her humans a land deserted by means of her executive as a wilderness. And he tells of many others who're constructing new recommendations and rediscovering old ones to seize water for themselves.

The option to our water difficulties, he reveals, would possibly not lie in new applied sciences yet in improving historical traditions, utilizing water extra successfully, and higher knowing neighborhood hydrology. Are those techniques enough to serve the world's starting to be populations? the reply continues to be uncertain. yet we forget about them at our personal peril.

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As a result, the aquifer is already seriously depleted and, at the current rate of pumping (13 million gallons a minute), will be entirely empty within 140 years, though the cost of extracting water from the deepest parts of the aquifer would become prohibitive well before that. What then for the Dust Bowl states, which currently have about a fifth of all the irrigated farmland in the United States? At current rainfall rates, it would take 2,000 years for the Ogallala Aquifer to refill. There lie the remains of water that filtered underground from the huge marshland—a world of bulrushes and crocodileinfested lagoons—that occupied the region until around 5,000 years ago.

But we, the public, also yearn for large and simple solutions to large and complex problems. And these hankerings help to make big, prestige projects popular with governments. While such projects are being built, politicians can bask in the credit for taking bold action to solve a national problem. When the projects are finished, the politicians get to put their names on the structures. From the Hoover Dam in the United States to the Indira Gandhi Canal in India and Lake Nasser in Egypt, big hydrology projects commemorate their political champions.

People like Gleick argue that we have got the nature of our current water crisis all wrong. We are not running out of water. What we face is a crisis about how we use and manage water. We do not have a supply-side problem so much as a demand-side problem. The bottom line is that we manage water so badly now that the potential for doing it better is vast. The solution in most cases is not more and bigger engineering schemes. We have to treat nature as the ultimate provider of water, rather than its wasteful withholder.

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