My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Forget peak oil, forget global warming – we are out of water, and Rothfeder uses an easy-to-read style to present the case.
From places we in the west never hear of, to our own doorstep; Rothfeder tells story after story about a water-shortage disaster so imminent that wars have already been fought over it.
Indanglasia, where women strived to raise money needed for water pumps, only to have their hard-won infrastructure stolen just when their standard of living was finally on the rise.
Cochabamba, where protests, strikes, and demonstrations against the cost of water rising to higher than the cost of food created a state of emergency and mass arrests.
And Canada, yes you read that right, Canada – where privatisation of water led to seven deaths and 2000 sick from poisoned water in a period of weeks.
While the topic is depressing, Rothfeder’s style is compelling. He has opened my eyes (eyes I thought were already open) and has made me view my own water usage far more conscionably.
It’s become too easy to say that regular shipments of bagged water to Cyprus, the Saronic Islands, and California don’t make for cheerful news; or the throwing of human bodies into wells in Kosovo and East Timor to poison civilians is simply a ‘wartime measure’; or the destruction of desalination plants in the 1991 Gulf War is just ‘strategic warfare’.
But this book begs the question – why do we humans continue to rest on our thirsting laurels? Why are we happy to fiddle while Rome burns? Are we fundamentally lazy? Have we as a species had a bad experience with change, such that change lies in our collective psyche right next to pain and suffering?
I am, however, filled with hope that the generation that’s just entered the workforce and is known for its concern for the future, will change things. They are a generation that knows how to question the status quo, and how to do the things that need to be done.
And for the generation after – this book should be made compulsory reading in high school, right up there next to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (and Every Drop For Sale is a much easier read).