Beijing Water

Yangtze! Yangtze! Named one of the best books about water

(May 28, 2010) In a recent interview, Johnny Grimond, a writer-at-large for The Economist said Dai Qing’s “Yangtze! Yangtze!” was one of the best books about water. Mr. Grimond said that Ms. Dai “has written courageously about China’s dams and rivers.”

“Yangtze! Yangtze!” was edited by Probe International’s Executive Director Patricia Adams. Ms Dai is a Probe International Fellow.

Johnny Grimond is writer-at-large for The Economist. Since joining the paper in 1969, he has been an Africa correspondent (1969-74), Britain editor (1976-1979), America editor (1979-1988) and Foreign editor (1988-2002). He is also the editor of The Economist Style Guide. In the 1970 election he was parliamentary candidate for the Liberal party. He has written for many publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. He has also written a number of special reports for The Economist, most recently one on water, which appeared in the May 22nd issue of the paper.

In your special report about water, you consider the consequences of rising demands on its limited supply. These range from the spread of diseases in poor countries to changes in the Earth’s gravitational field (caused by withdrawals from underground aquifers). Is there a book you could recommend to those who want to learn more about these water-related problems?

Not really. “Aqua Shock, The Water Crisis in America” (Wiley, 2009), by Susan Marks, provides lots of readable information about the United States’ water problems; “Taming the Anarchy: Groundwater Governance in South Asia” (RFF Press, 2008), by Tushaar Shah, is a sobering account of water depletion in the Indian subcontinent (also mentioned here); Dai Qing has written courageously about China’s dams and rivers in “Yangtze! Yangtze!” (Earthscan Canada, 1994) and other books (also mentioned here). Other specific aspects of water scarcity are dealt with well elsewhere, but I haven’t read a good, general book about water that is up-to-date. “The Atlas of Water” (University of California, 2009), by Maggie Black and Jannet King, is an excellent handbook.

You outline several possible solutions to our problems with water scarcity, from improving its storage to finding ways to make farming less water-dependant. There are clearly no easy answers, but has anyone convincingly outlined the future of water management in book form?

Not that I know of. A book called “Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource” (Palgrave Macmillan), by Peter Rogers and Susan Leal, is due out in August, but I haven’t read it.

What is the last book you read for fun?

“Madame Bovary”, by Gustave Flaubert. I’d recommend it to any woman contemplating marriage and to none who have gone ahead and taken the plunge.

What’s next on your reading list?

My bedside table is stacked with new books I shall never read. The next one will be either “The Last Mughal” (Bloomsbury, 2006) by William Dalrymple (reviewed by The Economist here) or a Raymond Chandler compendium I picked up before a recent trip abroad—unless I succumb to something by P.G. Wodehouse. Wodehouse usually triumphs over any rival.

The Economist, May 28, 2010

Read the original article here.

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