Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization

Manage water correctly and inventively and your culture and civilization will have a much better chance of flourishing. That is the central concept of this exhaustively researched and detailed book. Starting with ancient civilizations and going to the modern-day American Southwest, Solomon shows how managing water is essential – and not just for drinking. Many forms of power generation, like coal, natural gas, and nuclear, require prodigious amounts of water for cooling. (Solar PV and wind do not need water for cooling, which is yet another reason to use them in areas of water scarcity.)

Our primary water problem worldwide is there are too many people competing for too little water. In extreme cases, this leads to famine and wars. Water is an essential resource that we need to manage rationally and sensibly.

From Amazon, quoting Booklist.

Solomon’s unprecedented, all-encompassing, and resounding inquiry into the science and politics of water is predicated on two incontrovertible yet disregarded facts: water is essential to life and civilization. After elucidating water’s defining role in the planet’s climate and quantifying the earth’s limited supply of freshwater, Solomon describes in vivid detail the water technologies of the ancient river societies of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Assyria. On to Rome and its world-altering aqueducts and advanced sanitation, a crucial subject covered in depth when Solomon turns to nineteenth-century London, after telling the fascinating story of China’s bold and transforming waterworks. By the time Solomon reaches America and its water-powered industrialization, it becomes clear that the technological marvels of one era deliver the environmental challenges of the next. The triumphs of water harnessed, therefore, give way to accounts of water polluted and squandered. Solomon shares sobering revelations about the harsh disparities between the lives of those who have water and those who don’t, reports on the cruel consequences of today’s water scarcities, and assesses the potential for a nightmarish impending freshwater famine. Seeking to inspire us to place a higher value on water and establish wiser approaches to its use, Solomon has created a brilliantly discursive and compelling epic of humankind and earth’s most vital and precious resource.