In This Review

When the Rivers Run Dry -- The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century
When the Rivers Run Dry -- The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century
By Fred Pearce
Beacon Press, 2005, 336 pp.

Governing Water: Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building

Ken Conca

MIT Press, 2005, 456pp, $26.95

When the Rivers Run Dry -- The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century

Fred Pearce

Beacon Press, 2005, 336pp, $26.95

These two books complement each other on a topic of high urgency in many parts of the world: inadequate supplies of fresh water. Pearce, a science journalist, nicely narrates one story after another of shrinking lakes, falling water tables, and rivers that no longer reach the sea. Most are man-made environmental disasters resulting from the diversion of water -- or, even worse, unsuccessful attempts to divert water -- for use in the economic activities of growing populations. Conca, a political scientist interested in social theory, uses cases of water (mis)management across national boundaries and locally to examine intellectual and institutional efforts to improve such management and reconcile serious social and political conflicts over water, including between those who oppose privatization of local water supplies and those who want natural river flows to be preserved or restored. Water conflicts in Brazil and South Africa get special attention.