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Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource

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The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource

In his award-winning book WATER, Marq de Villiers provides an eye-opening account of how we are using, misusing, and abusing our planet's most vital resource.

Encompassing ecological, historical, and cultural perspectives, de Villiers reports from hot spots as diverse as China, Las Vegas, and the Middle East, where swelling populations and unchecked development have stressed fresh water supplies nearly beyond remedy. Political struggles for control of water rage around the globe, and rampant pollution daily poses dire ecological theats.

With one eye on these looming crises and the other on the history of our dependence on our planet's most precious commodity, de Villiers has crafted a powerful narrative about the lifeblood of civilizations that will be "a wake-up call for concerned citizens, environmentalists, policymakers, and water drinkers everywhere.

Dimensions: 8.2" L x 5.5" W
Details: Paperback, 368 pages
Author: Marq de Villiers


A child dies every eight seconds from drinking contaminated water. More than half of the world's rivers are now so polluted that they pose serious health risks. One-third of Africa's people already endure conditions of water scarcity, and water supplies are in jeopardy in China, India, Japan, Spain, southern France, Australia, the southwestern U.S. and many other parts of Asia and Europe.

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction in Canada, de Villiers's important, compelling, highly readable report on the looming global water crisis sounds a wake-up call for concerned citizens, environmentalists, policymakers and water-drinkers everywhere. In water matters, he finds the U.S. "both profligate and caring, rapacious and thrifty," and he cites studies that warn that the Ogallala Aquifer lying beneath six Great Plains states will run dry before 2020, imperiling U.S. agriculture as well as grain exports and posing the risk of a global food crisis.

For sheer travelogue pleasure, his informal survey hops from the Sea of Galilee to Victoria Falls to a Russian boat ride down the Volga, as he delves into the science, ecology, folklore, history and politics of water. The news he brings back is ominous: rapidly growing populations, ever-increasing pollution, desertification and falling water tables endanger a fragile, finite resource.

Avoiding a gloom-and-doom outlook, his spirited report remains determinedly optimistic, calling for a bold combination of solutions: conservation, technological innovation, desalination of sea water, demand-reducing devices like low-flow faucets and toilets, public policy to reduce water wastefulness and international cooperation to resolve transnational disputes over water. Rights sold in seven countries; documentary rights sold. —Publishers Weekly

About Marq de Villiers

Marq de Villiers is a veteran journalist, magazine editor and writer, who has worked as a foreign correspondent in Moscow, South Africa, and other places. He has travelled extensively, especially in Africa, and has written thirteen books on travel, history and natural history, some of them co-authored with Sheila Hirtle. He has also "ghosted" several others for subjects as varied as a convicted (but later freed) murderer and a deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. He won a Governor General's Award in 1999 for his book Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource.

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