Published: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2011 Edition: 1st U.S. ed Description: xxvii, 384 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm ISBN/ISSN: 9781608190034 (alk. paper), 160819003X (alk. paper), 160819003X :, Language: English
The author tells the story of our most vital resource and how it has shaped our history, tracing three ages of water. The book spans five millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia to the parched present of the Sun Belt. As the author shows, every human society has been shaped by its relationship to our most essential resource. This narrative moves across the world, from ancient Greece and Rome, whose mighty aqueducts still supply modern cities, to China, where emperors marshaled armies of laborers in a centuries long struggle to tame powerful rivers. He sets out three ages of water: In the first age, lasting thousands of years, water was scarce or at best unpredictable; so precious that it became sacred in almost every culture. By the time of the Industrial Revolution, human ingenuity had made water flow even in the most arid landscapes.This was the second age: water was no longer a mystical force to be worshipped and husbanded, but a commodity to be exploited. The American desert glittered with swimming pools, with little regard for sustainability. Today, we are entering a third age of water: As the Earth's population approaches nine billion and ancient aquifers run dry, we will have to learn once again to show humility, even reverence, for this vital liquid. To solve the water crises of the future, we may need to adapt the water ethos of our ancestors
Canals, furrows, and rice paddies. The elixir of life ; Farmers and furrows ; "Whoever has a channel has a wife" ; Hohokam : "Something that is all gone" ; The power of the waters -- Waters from afar. Landscapes of Enlil ; The lands of Enki ; "I caused a canal to be cut" ; The waters of Zeus ; Aquae Romae -- Cisterns and monsoons. Waters that purify ; China's sorrow -- Ancient American hydrologists. The water lily lords ; Triumphs of gravity -- Gravity and beyond. The waters of Islam ; "Lifting power-- more certain than that of a hundred men" ; Mastery?