The Economist: Special Report on Water, a primer for the water crisis

by |May 21, 2010

As we did with the National Geographic Special Issue on Water, we are glad to glad to report on another special issue about our favorite subject, by another top-tier media source.

20100522specialreportcov1The Economist has released a Special Report on Water, dated May 22nd, 2010, written by John Grimond.  The 18 page report contains 9 short but substantial articles giving an overview of global water issues.

It starts with a rousing opening:

WHEN the word water appears in print these days, crisis is rarely far behind. Water, it is said, is the new oil: a resource long squandered, now growing expensive and soon to be overwhelmed by insatiable demand. Aquifers are falling, glaciers vanishing,  reservoirs drying up and rivers no longer flowing to the sea. Climate change threatens  to  make  the  problems  worse. Everyone must  use less water if  famine, pestilence and mass migration are not to sweep the globe. As it is, wars are about to break out between countries  squabbling over dams and rivers. If the apocalypse is still a little way off…, it is only because the four  horsemen  and  their steeds have stopped to search for something to drink.

From there it goes on to take sober look at a number of the biggest issues, without hyperbole, but also without sugar coating the crisis.

Articles include:

  • Enough is not enough: It must also be clean.
  • Business begins to stir: But many water providers still have a long way to go.
  • Every drop counts: And in Singapore every drop is counted.
  • Making farmers matter: And monitor, budget, manage, and prosper. (CWC Director Upmanu Lall is cited in this one.)
  • China’s peasants look to the skies: But the science of yields is unyielding.
  • The ups and downs of dams: Small projects often give better returns.
  • Trade and conserve: How to make tight supplies go further.
  • To the last drop: How to avoid water wars.
  • A glass half empty: It won’t fill up without lots of changes on the ground and much greater restraint by users.

The Special Report on Water would be a good teaching tool for anyone wanting to educate themselves about the breadth of the global water crisis, or to use with students who can handle fairly complex and challenging material.

The Special Report is currently available as a free download, sponsored by ITT.

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