NOTES - Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization - Steven Solomon

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization - Steven Solomon (2010)



ninefold increase in the twentieth century: Paul Kennedy, foreword to McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, xvi.

Chapter One: The Indispensable Resource

water in the soil: Water’s high specific heat capacity, which allows it to maintain its liquid form over an extremely wide range of temperatures and pressures, is essential to Earth’s having maintained its moderate climate despite the fact that the Sun had grown about 33 percent hotter over the past 4 billion years.

planet’s infancy: Most scientists now believe that instead of being a hellish fireball 4.2 billion years ago, Earth was fairly settled geologically, with both land and oceans, with parts of the surface covered in ice due to the 30 percent lower heat output of the young Sun.

climate change cycles: Short cycles covering centuries of warm, wet climate commonly alternated with long cold, dry, windy periods; sometimes climates fluctuated unstably between extremes within a single year. Over the past 700,000 years, these short cycles have been dominated by dramatic swings between very long, severe, dry ice ages and warm, wet interludes.

favorable climatic conditions: Alley, 3, 14. The stability of the current warm period is the longest in the 110,000 years of ice core data. Alley notes that the fluctuations that marked Earth’s past “were absent during the few critical millennia when humans developed agriculture and industry.”

atmospheric water vapor: Water vapor was the planet’s most prolific, heat-trapping “greenhouse gas.”

warm Atlantic Gulf Stream: Water temperature variations also help drive the oceanic wind systems, including both the sinking, weak doldrums near the equatorial horse latitudes loathed by mariners in the age of sail as well as the Atlantic’s favorable, wet trade wind system, which, when at last decoded, became the ocean-crossing expressways for European explorers’ world-transforming Voyages of Discovery.

conveyor belt: Too much extra cold freshwater introduced into the North Atlantic by the melting of polar glaciers—say, from global warming—might trigger a new shutdown of the conveyor, setting off an abrupt return to ice age conditions. Past shutdowns and slowdowns appear to have been quite abrupt, as short as fifty years. Once shut down, the conveyor was difficult to get moving again.

fresh liquid water: Water stock data is primarily from Shiklomanov and Rodda, 13, And Gleick, World’s Water, 2000-2001, 19-37. The total amount of water on Earth is 1.386 billion cubic kilometers, of which 96.5 percent is in the oceans and only 2.5 percent (or 35 million cubic kilometers) is fresh.

three lake systems: Shiklomanov and Rodda, 8, 9.

constantly being replenished: Transpiration from plants also adds to water vapor. Much of the precipitation never reaches land because it evaporates en route. To give some sense of proportion, it takes about 3,100 years for a volume equal to all the world’s oceans to recycle through the water cycle.

lost in floods: Some 15 percent of falls occur in the Amazon rain forests, which have less than one-half of 1 percent of the world’s population; water-short Asia receives 80 percent of its rain as hard-to-capture monsoons that fall during only five months (from May to October).

“Every day the sea”: Durant and Durant, 14.

Chapter Two: Water and the Start of Civilization

Arnold Toynbee: Toynbee, Study of History, chap. 5, “Challenge and Response,” 60-79.

biological cycles: During a day of normal activities, approximately 0.3 quarts were exhaled, 0.5 quarts sweated out, and the excess expelled as waste.

death struck: Swanson, 9. As the body dehydrated, the blood thickened and the heart had to pump harder as circulation became less efficient.

“Almost every mythology”: Campbell, Hero’s Journey, 10.

four primary terrestrial elements: Ball, 3, 4, 117-120. Water, Earth, Fire, and Air were the Greek foursome; Chinese philosophers, from about 350 BC, agreed with the first three but replaced Air with Wood and Metal. The Mesopotamian cosmology concurred on Water and Earth, but substituted Sun for Fire and Sky for Air, and added its unique fifth, Storms.

mini ice age: Alley, 3, 4, 14; Kenneth Chang, “Scientists Link Diamonds to Quick Cooling Eons Ago,” New York Times, Janurary 2, 2009. The well-documented, millennium-long paleoclimatic episode, called the Younger Dryas event (after a tundra-loving plant), was probably triggered by the collapse of a huge melting ice sheet or lake in North America that sent a torrent of cold freshwater draining through the St. Lawrence Seaway into the North Atlantic, slowing the oceanic conveyor belt and temporarily reversing the retreat of the ice age. What caused the water surge is much debated, with some hypothesizing a meteor strike. The event was incomparably more extreme than Europe’s Little Ice Age that ended in the mid-nineteenth century and triggered significant lifestyle adaptations around the continent.

Jericho’s location: Braudel, Memory and the Mediterranean, 40-45. Control of trade routes and the watery sources of salt, so prized over the centuries that it was accepted as money and traded for gold, was a source of power and wealth until modern times. Jericho’s founding goes back to about 9500 BC. Two other important original cities were Jarmo, on the edge of a deep wadi in the Zagros Mountains that fed the Tigris River, and Catalhüyük in mountainous Anatolia, which was advantaged by its virtual monopoly in the trading of the highly prized, hard-edged volcanic stone, obsidian.

farmers to relocate: Some paleoclimatologists believe that the proximate force driving the advent of irrigation farming in the Near East may have been an increasing regional aridity exacerbated by a 200-year cold drought period between 6400 and 6200 BC, which caused farm hilltop settlements to be abandoned across the Levant and northern Mesopotamia.

independent, smaller communities: McNeill, World History, 46.

barbarian waves: The four great barbarian waves were (1) the Bronze Age charioteers, circa 1700-1400 BC; (2) the Iron Age invaders from around 1400-1200 BC; (3) the Hsiung-nu from 200 BC and then in the fourth century AD the Juan-juan confederations of the eastern steppes; and (4) the great Turkish-Mongol invasions from the 700s arguably to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

world population: Ponting, 37.

Chapter Three: Rivers, Irrigation, and the Earliest Empires

“creates a technical task”: Wittfogel, 15.

fast-growing maize: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 161. Maize was a miraculous plant due to three attributes: (1) it was fast growing, (2) it was edible even before it was ripe, and (3) it grew with little effort—requiring less than fifty days of total farming work. Potatoes thrived at high altitudes.

giant dams built in the twentieth century: The pioneering Hoover and Grand Coulee dams were built by New Deal America; major Russian and European giant dam building coincided with the rebuilding after World War II; and Communist China, along with many newly independent developing countries, erected dams as foundations of their new regimes.

three great kingdoms: Kingdom date estimates vary by source. Those used here combine the Thinnite period with the Old Kingdom, and follow Grimal, 389-395.

nilometers: Collins, 13-14. The earliest existing nilometer readings, covering the period up to 2480 BC, are from Memphis; although the nilometer itself has disappeared, its data were carved on the stela fragment known as the Palermo Stone.

total water volume: Based on renewable water resources per year. Shiklomanov and Rodda, 365.

fertile black silt: Ancient Egyptians called this flooded, silt-laden plain the “black land,” or kmt, which was also their name for Nile Valley Egypt itself. The barren soils untouched by the floodwaters were known as the “red land.”

Menes: Grimal, 37-38; Shaw, 61.

reservoir dam: Smith, History of Dams, 1-4. It is believed this dam failed from overflow shortly after its construction.

peasant’s duty: Egyptian frescoes and bas-reliefs depicted the dreary, duty-bound daily life of peasants performing their routine farm toil in the fields, carrying grain to the granary, drawing fishing nets, unloading boats, and brewing beer, all under the stern watch of an armed supervisor.

a transformative innovation: The world’s earliest surviving water clock also dates from the New Kingdom.

secure precious, high-quality timber: Braudel, Memory and the Mediterranean, 59-60. Owing to the dearth of useful tree species, both Egypt and Mesopotamia traded and sometimes waged war to secure vital timber from Levantine forests. Egypt’s only hardwood trees were the sycamore and the acacia.

Neko’s canal: Neko’s canal may have tracked a possible previous canal effort obscured to history by the filling in of the desert sands.

120,000 died: Herodotus, Histories, 193.

sultan and the Christian king: Lewis, Muslim Discovery of Europe, 34, 38.

“A society dependent”: McNeill, Rise of the West, 32; Unlike on the Nile, upriver transport on the twin rivers required laborious oar power and portage.

Mesopotamia: Van De Mieroop, 13.

“the first efficient means”: Mumford, 71.

flood myth: Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of frequent, huge inundations. The flood that submerged the Sumerian city of Shuruppak in 3100 BC may have inspired the Bible’s great flood story.

easier to control: Campbell-Green.

“Why…if Sumer”: Leonard Woolley, Ur of the Chaldees (1929), quoted in Ponting, 69-70.

“black fields becoming white”: Cited in Pearce, 186.

1700 BC almost no wheat: Ponting, 71. See also McNeill, Rise of the West, 48.

water war: Van De Mieroop, 48-49. See also Gleick, World’s Water, 1998-1999, 125; Reade, 40-41; and Pearce, 186.

under modern Baghdad: Van De Mieroop, 64.

earthworms had perished: Kolbert, 95, 97. The original research was done by Yale archaeologist Harvey Weiss, who led the excavation of ancient Tell Leilan in modern Syria near the Iraq border.

“provider of abundant waters”: Harris, 123.

“If anyone be too lazy”: Hammurabi, Law 53.

Hard iron weapons: Refined, harder steels with much-sharper edges were produced in the ensuing centuries, starting in India and China. For centuries, Western smithies vainly tried to reproduce “watered steel” (as it was known in Persia) or “Damascus,” or “damask,” steel (as it was known in Europe). Success came only with the application of waterpower in the early nineteenth century—the birth of modern metallurgy.

“gleaming in purple”: George Gordon, Lord Byron, The Life and Work of Lord Byron, “The Destruction of Sennacherib” (1815),

stone aqueduct: Smith, History of Dams, 9-12; Smith, Man and Water, 76-78. The aqueduct is known as the Jerwan aqueduct bridge.

Tehran’s water supply: Smith, Man and Water, 70-71.

tried almost every water supply technique: Ibid., 79.

King David discovered: Johnson, 56, 72-73; Smith, Man and Water, 77.

“only deep enough”: Herodotus, Histories, 113-118. Herodotus also relates that a previous ruler had rechanneled the Euphrates from its previously straight path into a winding course in order to slow its current through Babylon and to impede any direct approach by enemy vessels.

“No Persian king”: Herodotus, Ibid., 117. The river was the Choaspes.

contacts with Mesopotamia: McNeill, A World History, 34.

Great Bath: Keay, 12-14.

rivers that had radically changed course: Some are referred to in the Rig Veda. Rivers that dried up included an eastern tributary of the Indus and the Ravi, upon which Harappa had been located.

decline and emigrate: One possibility is that some Indus people migrated to southern India and Sri Lanka. Indus writing has some earmarks of being a proto-Dravidian language, which is among that region’s tongues. The ingenious, huge artificial reservoirs and canal networks that before the third century BC irrigated Sri Lanka’s golden age might also hint at the possible knowledge of the lost Indus descendants.

irrigation canals: Pacey, 59.

drought cycle: Diamond, Collapse, 157-176. Regional Mayan collapses in 810, 860, and 910 coincided with severe intracycle drought peaks. The rise of classic Mayan civilization started during a wet period, which had followed a 125-year drought (after AD 125) that brought about the demise of the preclassic Mayan era. See also Harris, 87-92, and Pacey, 58-61.

monsoon’s start date: As late as the 1970s, the arrival of clouds in the southern state of Kerala, where the monsoon first appeared, would trigger an urgent message to the prime minister’s office in New Delhi heralding the start of the monsoons. Economic growth could fall to zero if monsoon rainfall was poor; even in India’s more advanced twenty-first-century economy, deficits in precipitation could reduce economic growth by up to four percentage points.

in the aftermath: Keay, 83.

Sabaeans from the Arabian Peninsula: Smith, History of Dams, 15; Gunter, 2-19, 104-113. The Sabaeans were also famed pioneer irrigators; their huge dam at Marib—by far the largest city in ancient Arabia—on the Wadi Dhana was enlarged several times from its first 1,800-foot-wide earthen iteration in about 750 BC, and intercepted the wadi’s periodic floodwaters to intensively irrigate over 4,000 acres.

Chapter Four: Seafaring, Trade, and the Making of the Mediterranean World

Bronze had first appeared: Braudel, Memory and the Mediterranean, 60. Copper smelting began in the fifth millennium, but it took a long while before it was discovered that adding tin could strengthen it as bronze.

their civilization: According to Greek myth, under Minos’s palace at Knossos lay a labyrinth inhabited by a sacrificial-maiden-devouring Minotaur, the monstrous offspring of Minos’s wife and a bull sent by the sea god Poseidon that ultimately was slain by the Greek hero Theseus.

mariners from Miletus: Cary and Warmington, 37.

manifestation of water: Jones, History of Western Philosophy, 32-34.

trireme lay low: Casson, 85.

great cajoling: To entice Xerxes—as well as to prevent his vacillating allies from changing their minds at the last moment—Themistocles devised one of history’s most famous deceptions. Pretending to turn traitor, he sent an informant to Xerxes’ headquarters with the credible news that the Greeks were preparing to slip away and disperse rather than fight a single big battle against long numerical odds. Xerxes took the bait. He ordered his patrols to row all night to prevent a Greek breakout.

“they gathered the grass”: Herodotus, Persian Wars, 642-643.

asymmetrical advantages: Athens’s surrounding seas and rugged landscape provided a further defensive buffer against land armies—a distinguishing advantage lacked by both Phoenicia and Miletus.

more representative: Athens’s laws and magistrates were decided by a majority vote of the citizens’ assembly, normally in accordance with a representative advisory council. In time voting rights were extended to the poor as the growing wealth of the state came to depend on the large naval manpower needed to pull the galley oars. Even naval commanders, such as Themistocles, were elected by popular vote.

Alexander turned it into an opportunity: Cary and Worthington, 179-180; Foreman, 188-189.

700,000 items: Daniel J. Wakin, “Successor to Ancient Alexandria Library Dedicated,” New York Times, October 17, 2002. Government officials boarded ships in Alexandria’s harbor, seized whatever scrolls were on board, and then had them copied. The originals were returned to their owners; the copies were added to the library’s collection.

body lay in state: After his death Alexander’s body had been intercepted en route from Babylon to its final resting place in Macedon by Ptolemy I, his trusted general and boyhood friend, to bolster the legitimacy of the Egyptian dynasty he founded and which would rule Egypt until Rome incorporated the country, and its agricultural bounty, into its empire. The site of Alexander’s tomb was lost in the riots of the third century AD.

76-77. consolidated slowly: Rome’s expansion progressed slowly through military victories, regional political alliances, and the granting of citizenship to absorbed Italic tribes; plebeian classes that served in the army gradually gained greater political representation in government.

100 quinqueremes: Casson, 145.

“by the sea”: Mahan, 15.

Carthage’s surrender: The brief, one-sided Third Punic War, initiated by Rome on flimsy pretexts, ended in 146 BC with the destruction and plowing under of the city of Carthage itself.

influence indirectly: Where force was required against a hardened enemy, such as Macedon, it deployed its army as a first resort. Only when absolutely required by military exigencies did it exercise its naval might directly.

1,000 ships: Casson, 180.

ruling triumvirate: Norwich, Middle Sea, 34.

civil war: In all some 1,000 ships and tens of thousands of Roman mariners were lost throughout Rome’s civil wars.

help of the catapult grapnel: Reinhold, 29-34, 161. Agrippa also built Rome’s first naval port to support the sea war.

thirty- to sixty-day voyage: Casson, 206-207.

position vertical to the water: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 355.

grind 10 tons: Williams, 55-56.

hydraulicking: Bernstein, Power of Gold, 14. Hydraulicking’s horrendous environmental impacts, including the denuding of hillsides, topsoil erosion that destroyed farmland, and the silting up of rivers and harbors, finally caused Californians in 1884 to rise up and have it outlawed.

concrete was derived: Braudel, Memory and the Mediterranean, 30; “Secrets of Lost Empires: Roman Bath.” Heating common limestone to high temperatures for a prolonged period produced a very light derivative, quicklime. Adding water caused the hot quicklime to sizzle, steam, swell, and ultimately transmute into a new material: a very fine powder, or “hydrated lime.” Adding more water to the lime powder created a putty adhesive strong enough to bind sand, stone, and crushed tile chips, which were the coarse components of Roman concrete; later, where possible, Romans used volcanic ash. When hardened, the substance became miraculously waterproof.

Aqua Appia: Evans, Water Distribution in Ancient Rome, 65-74.

Hellenist water engineering: Aicher, 2-3.

total aqueduct water: Evans, 140-141.

only six cities: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 282.

150 to 200 gallons: Peter Aicher, cited in “Secrets of Lost Empires: Roman Bath.”

best water quality: Rome’s suburban hills had fresh springs and deep volcanic lakes, while the porous travertine bedrock of its surrounding valleys acted like a natural purifying filter for underlying aquifers. Romans tried to use the best-quality water for human consumption and route brinier and poorer-tasting water for tasks like irrigation, street cleaning, and filling theater basins for mock sea battles.

“have laid hands upon the conduits”: Frontinus, 128.

Waterworks were the centerpiece: Evans, 137-138; see also Reinhold, 47-51; Shipley, 20-25.

“sheltered place”: Mumford, 225, 226; “Secrets of Lost Empires: Roman Bath.”

periods of aqueduct building: Smith, Man and Water, 84; Evans, 6.

Emperor Claudius: Claudius added the Aqua Claudia and Anio Novus in AD 52. Trajan’s Aqua Traiana was the first to serve the Trastevere quarter across the Tiber.

emperor’s baths: The Aqua Alexandriana was built for the baths of Alexander Severus to replace Nero’s baths.

pirates, Goths: Casson, 213.

The Huns: McNeill, A World History, 195-197. The fleeing Huns displaced the Ostrogoths from southern Russia in 372 and caused their weaker Visigoth neighbors to enter Roman frontiers.

floating water mills: Procopius of Caesarea, 5, 191-193.

“Rome’s decay”: Hibbert, 74.

Martin V: Karmon, 1-13.

“Water Popes”: Nicholas V (founder of the Vatican Library, who hired Leon Battista Alberti to work on the aqueducts) added a simple terminal fountain in 1453 that in the prosperous eighteenth century was transformed into the elaborate Trevi Fountain. Gregory XIII built the conduits that give its name to Via Condotti as well as many fountains. Sixtus V, born Felice Peretti, in the late sixteenth century rebuilt the last aqueduct, Aqua Alexandriana, and renamed it Aqua Felice, after himself; he also added many underground pipes, 27 fountains, and some bridges across the Tiber. Paul V, who became pope in 1605, outdid him with monumental fountains, some by Bernini, supplied by rebuilding Trajan’s aqueduct, now called Aqua Paola, after himself.

Chapter Five: The Grand Canal and the Flourishing of Chinese Civilization

“The Chinese people”: Needham, vol. 4, pt. 3, 212.

33rd parallel: Fairbank and Goldman, 5.

15 times more water: Shiklomanov and Rodda, 365.

“mastered the waters”: Yu the Great, quoted in Fernández-Armesto, 217.

humble water’s yielding: Lao-tzu wrote, “Water flows humbly to the lowest level. Nothing is weaker than water. Yet for overcoming what is hard and strong, nothing surpasses it.” Cited in “Sacred Space: Rivers of Insight,” Times of India,,prtpage-1.cms.

millet noodle: Among other revelations, the noodle put an end to the centuries-long canard that Marco Polo had introduced the pasta noodle to China during his famous late thirteenth-century trading expeditions.

Li Bing: Kurlansky, 23-25; China Heritage Project, “Taming the Floodwaters: The High Heritage Price of Massive Hydraulic Projects,” China Heritage Newsletter 1 (March 2005), China Heritage Project, Australian National University,

population of 5 million: Needham, 288.

thousands of waterwheels: Ibid., 296.

bamboo tubes with leather flap valves: Kurlansky, 26-28.

Treadle chain pumps: Temple, 56-57.

government monopolies: Elvin, 29.

government controlled: Fairbank and Goldman, 59.

malleable cast iron: Temple, 42-43.

noted Chinese engineer Tu Shih: The device had reciprocating action. Ibid., 55-56.

vertical waterwheels: Gies and Gies, 88-89.

same essential design: The machines, lacking only the steam engine’s crankshaft, operated on the reciprocating action of a rod-driven piston attached to a waterwheel-powered crank. Temple, 64.

one pound of raw silk: Fairbank and Goldman, 32.

Emperor Tiberius: Edwards, 20.

silk industry: Persia, India, and Japan each developed silk culture independently. By some accounts Alexander the Great brought silkworm cocoons back with him from India, but the art of cultivating them was lost by the time of the Romans.

web of international exchange: McNeill, Global Condition, 92, 96-99.

barbarian raiders: The Han’s main tormentors had been the Hsiung-nu, but by 350 a new powerful Mongolian confederation, known to the Chinese as the Juan-juan, had arisen. It was their westward irruption that put to flight the fearsome Huns, who displaced the Ostrogoths from southern Russia in 372 and caused their Visigoth neighbors to enter Roman frontiers. The Juan-juan confederacy was finally destroyed in 552 by an alliance of Chinese armies with Turkish tribes, who quickly established a formidable steppe empire of their own.

“there was insufficiency”: Record of the Three Kingdoms, quoted in Elvin, 37.

Grand Canal: Needham, 307-310; Elvin, 54-55.

one-third less: Elvin, 138.

pound lock: Temple, 196-197.

Yangtze salt and iron fleet: Elvin, 136. Each of the 2,000 boats built had a capacity of 110,000 pounds.

“the amount of shipping”: Polo 209.

rice-farming revolution: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 146-155.

Champa rice: McNeill, Rise of the West, 527; Pacey, 5; Elvin, 121.

120 million: Fairbank and Goldman, 89.

technological leader: Pacey, 7.

coke-burning blast furnaces: A similar coal-for-wood substitution was the coking process developed by England’s Abraham Darby—one of the watershed events of England’s Industrial Revolution—but only in 1709.

114,000 tons of pig iron: Fairbank and Goldman, 89.

water-powered spinning machines: Elvin, 194-195; Pacey, 24-28, 103.

water clock: Boorstin, 60-61, 76. Imperial ladies of the highest rank were bedded by the “Son of Heaven” nearest to the full moon when their female yin influence was strongest and best able to balance his yang, or male, aspect, and thus ensure the favorable virtues for offspring then conceived. The “Heavenly Clockwork,” invented by government official Su Song, also corrected an astronomical error that had corrupted the accuracy of China’s official calendar. Driven by a noria wheel mounted with 36 water-lifting buckets that made exactly 100 revolutions each day, Su Song’s water escapement ingeniously exploited the fluid properties of water.

river- and canal-fighting vessels: McNeill, Pursuit of Power, 42.

gorge at Chü-tang: Elvin, 93-94.

Cheng Ho’s 27,000 man fleet: McNeill, Rise of the West, 526; Fairbank and Goldman, 137-139; Boorstin, 192.

ruler in Ceylon: McNeill, Pursuit of Power, 44.

Heaven Well Lock: Elvin, 104.

“With the re-construction”: Ibid., 220.

rely exclusively: Some Ming officials worried about exclusive reliance on the inland waterway network. Likening the summit passage portion of the Grand Canal (the Hui-t’ung Canal) to a man’s throat that if choked off for even a single day would result in death, they argued for maintaining the sea transport network. In the event, save for periods of Yellow River flooding in 1571 and 1572, the Grand Canal passage remained uncut until the end of the Ming dynasty in the mid-seventeenth century. Ibid., 105.

China’s inner dynamism: Ibid., 203.

labor-saving technologies: The labor-intensive bias of China’s state-directed economy was notably evident in its prodigious iron industry, in which, despite waterpower’s demonstrated superiority, use of manually powered bellows remained predominant. Pacey, 113.

opium imports: British India’s opium exports rose from 400 chests in 1750 to 5,000 in 1821 and 40,000 in 1839. McAleavy, 44.

free trade: Britain’s policy shift from mercantilism to espousal of “free trade” principles coincided with the rise of its world-class industrial factories, which enjoyed unrivaled competitive advantage. This was not the first, nor would it be the last, instance in world history that self-serving economic advantage informed the adoption of grand economic principles.

worst flood: McAleavy, 59.

Chapter Six: Islam, Deserts, and the Destiny of History’s Most Water-Fragile Civilization

water was always highly esteemed: By Islamic custom visitors are always offered free water. Water is central to daily purification rituals at prayer. Paradise is described as a shaded garden with cooling fountains. And the ritual Muslim pilgrimage, or hajj, to the Ka’bah at Mecca includes racing seven times between two nearby hills to commemorate Hagar’s frantic quest for water after Abraham had expelled her and Ishmael from her tent.

reputable but weaker clan: The clan was the Hashemites, whose descendants include today’s royal family of Jordan.

armed struggle: Hourani, 18.

2.5 million: Collins, 20-21.

ships loaned: The Christians had their own religious and political divisions. The Byzantines were rivals of the Visigoths, who in 589 had adopted the Filioque interpretation to the Nicene Creed that was vigorously rejected by Constantinople and would become a factor in the Great Schism between Latin and Eastern Christendom in the eleventh century.

caliphate’s revenue: Braudel, History of Civilizations, 73.

Its agriculture was confined: Hourani, 100.

built on slopes: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 507.

“Not being well endowed”: Braudel, History of Civilizations, 62.

camels: Saharan camels could carry half the weight of their heavier, cold desert Bactrian cousins. Camels originated in North America and were close relatives of the South American llama and alpaca. They were domesticated for food in the Middle East by 2000 BC. By 1000 BC they were commonly used as transport animals.

deserts: Fernández-Armesto, 67.

seasonally reversing wind system: Ibid., 384, 389. Reliable sailing conditions and a relatively safe way home were the major reasons for the Indian Ocean’s precocious development as mankind’s richest, earliest long-distance trade highway.

136-37. In Mesopotamia goods: Hourani, 44.

“Greek fire”: White, Medieval Technology and Social Change, 96. Greek fire seems to have been invented, fortuitously for Constantinople and the West, just prior to 673 by a refugee architect from Syria named Kallinikos. Its spectacular effects in repelling Muslim forces ignited the history of the search for combustible weaponry, which ultimately produced the seminal invention of gunpowder and cannons.

long-distance aqueduct: Valens, in the fourth century, and Justinian, in the sixth century, were the major aqueduct and cistern builders, respectively.

Famine and disease: Norwich, Short History of Byzantium, 110.

lifted the siege: Davis, 100 Decisive Battles, 102.

the First Crusade: Ironically, the most immediate effect of the halt of Islam’s expansion at Constantinople’s seawalls in 718 was to sow discord within Christianity itself. Soon after the victory, Leo III decided to forbid the use of religious icons, following Muslim and Jewish practice. But iconoclasm was an anathema to the pope in Rome. Although Constantinople ultimately renounced it just over a century later, the rivalry between Eastern and Latin Christianity endured for centuries.

Abbasid engineers: Pacey, 10.; Smith, Man and Water, 16, 18.

“in Cairo”: Ibn Battutah, 15. By way of comparison, Paris in the glory years of the eighteenth century employed 20,000 carriers of Seine River water.

paper pulp mill: Gies and Gies, 42.

over a hundred bookshops: Pacey, 41; Public libraries were opened, too. Caliph al-Hakam of Cordoba in the latter part of the tenth century reportedly had a library of 400,000 manuscripts—by comparison, the library of France’s mid-fourteenth-century king, Charles V, had only 900. Braudel, History of Civilizations, 72.

Mesopotamia’s irrigation system: Smith, History of Dams, 81; Pacey, 20; McNeill, Rise of the West, 497.

Nahrwan transport and irrigation: Smith, Man and Water, 18; Temple, 181.

cannibalism, plague, and decaying waterworks: Collins, 21; Smith, Man and Water, 16.

water court at Valencia: All the elected members of the weekly Tribunal de las Aguas sit at a round table and in full public view discuss and settle farmers’ disputes over use and maintenance of water and infrastructure. Judgments are based on common sense and no written records are kept.

parity with Islam: Pacey, 44.

under Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent: Lewis, Muslim Discovery of Europe, 32.

30,000 men died: Howarth, 18-21.

engage on equal terms: Africa was slow to learn about the development of the wheel and the plow, for instance. Moreover, Africa may also have been impeded by its southerly latitude to the main Eurasian belt; biota seemingly adapts best in similar latitude bands, which may have added the benefit of scale to Eurasia’s other comparative advantages.

Chapter Seven: Waterwheel, Plow, Cargo Ship, and the Awakening of Europe

The key technical breakthrough: White, Medieval Technology, 43. The plow had three main functioning parts. The coulter, or heavy knife, was attached to the pole of the plow and cut into the earth. Set at a right angle to the coulter was a flat plowshare that dug into the turf horizontally. The moldboard turned the unearthed clods to the side. After the stiff, nonchoking horse collar was introduced into western Europe before the tenth century, horses increasingly replaced oxen as the favored plow animals.

drier and milder climate: Gimpel, 29-30, 205-206. The advance and retreat of the Fernau glacier over 3,000 years suggested that the first millennium BC was a cold period, followed by a warming trend in late Roman times. The medieval warm period lasted from about AD 750 to 1215, followed by a brief cold spell until 1350, and may have contributed to the conditions that produced the Black Death. The Little Ice Age in Europe from 1550 to 1850 was followed by a century-long warming trend.

south of the Loire River and Alps: Ibid., 44.

new cog: The cogs were clinker-built, meaning that the planks overlapped, like tiles on a roof. Originally, the cogs had been flat-bottomed for easy landing on natural shorelines, but as they grew larger they became harder to control and inadequate for use in the growing number of improved ports.

Cologne, situated at the juncture: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 51.

85 percent of commercial traffic: Gies and Gies, 221. Weirs are small obstructions that block part of a waterway, often for multiple purposes such as to maintain current flow speed for waterwheels and sufficient depth for navigation.

“Commerce between”: Lopez, 86-87.

built by monastic orders: Interestingly, the relationship of monks with bridges had an Eastern parallel with Buddhist monks, who built and maintained many of the suspension bridges across Himalayan passes as part of their duties.

several times more powerful: Estimates of waterwheel power vary greatly. Wheel size, the construction material, the angle and timing of water entry to its blade, and streamflow rate all affect output. Gies and Gies, 34-36, 115; Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 371; Smith, Man and Water, 143, 145; Williams, 54-55.

Leonardo da Vinci: Smith, Man and Water, 147; Gies and Gies, 258, 265. Da Vinci rejected the popular and incorrect view of contemporaries that water-power offered a key to perpetual motion, and understood the basic physics that water’s work potential depended much upon its fall minus the wheel’s frictional resistance and that of the machinery it powered. He understood that efficiency depended upon the angle of the water’s impact with the wheel’s blades. His theory that the overshot wheel was the most efficient form was not supported by any mathematical quantifications; that was left to John Smeaton, the father of modern civil engineering, in his experiments in the mid-eighteenth century. Leonardo’s drawings offered one of the earliest models of the highly efficient breast wheel, in which the water strikes blades positioned at ten o’clock and two o’clock.

ocean-tide-powered mills: White, Medieval Technology, 84, 85. In the eleventh century, there were tide-powered mills near Venice on the Adriatic and at the mouth of the port of Dover in England.

king hastened the surrender: The king was Philip Augustus; the town, Gournay (near Beauvais); and the author, William the Breton. Smith, History of Dams, 144.

half a million water mills: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 358.

description of a contemporary: Mumford, 258-259; see also Gies and Gies, 114-116, and Gimpel, 66-68.

one silk mill: Gies and Gies, 178-179; Lopez, 133-135; White, Medieval Technology, 44. The earliest referenced water-powered fulling mills in Europe date to 983 in Tuscany, 1108 in a Milan monastery, 1010 in Germany, between 1040 and 1050 in Grenoble, and 1080 in Rouen.

huge iron church bells: Lopez, 145. On casting, Gimpel, 66-68.

on parity with: Pacey, 44, White, Medieval Technology, 82.

“where there is no Nile or Indus”: Harris, 167, 169.

Benedetto Zaccaria: Lopez, 139-141; see also Norwich, History of Venice, 202. For the history of the control of Gibraltar, see Casson, 65; Cary and Warmington, 45-47, 60.

Genoese republic: To give an idea of Genoa’s power, by 1293 its sea trade alone was three times greater than all the revenue of the French kingdom. Lopez, 94.

Dante Alighieri’s special embassy: Norwich, History of Venice, 204.

naval help: McNeill, Rise of the West, 514, 515.

sack Constantinople: Villehardouin, in Joinville and Villehardouin, Chronicles of the Crusades; Norwich, History of Venice, 122-143.

three-eighths of Constantinople: Norwich, History of Venice, 141.

1280 to 1330: McNeill, Pursuit of Power, 70.

until after 1480: Ibid., 70.

Chapter Eight: The Voyages of Discovery and the Launch of the Oceanic Era

“the two greatest”: Smith, Wealth of Nations, 281.

African slaves: Boorstin, 167-168. After 1445, some 25 caravels per year voyaged to West Africa to carry out commercial trade in slaves, gold, and ivory.

circumnavigation and coastal exploration of Africa: Cason, 118, 120-123; Cary and Warmington, 62, 128, 131, 229-230.

“Considered as a whole”: Fernández-Armesto, 406. There were various exceptions to the Atlantic wind system. For instance, inside the Gulf of Guinea was a wind system that blew straight into Africa’s large bulge, creating, in effect, a treacherous lee shore and helping explain why West African civilizations in that region were so disadvantaged at seafaring. In the far north, the Vikings, in their explorations of Iceland, Greenland, and North America, were able to take advantage of a clockwise current system that moved west from Scandinavia.

European diseases: Europeans, having been exposed to many diseases through Old World trade, had an overwhelming immunity advantage in the contest with the “virgin” Amerindians.

“Get gold”: Timothy Green, The World of Gold: The Inside Story of Who Mines, Who Markets, Who Buys Gold (London: Rosendale Press, 1993), 11, quoted in Bernstein, 121.

Water-powered mills: Pacey, 70.

Treaty of Tordesillas: The new line gave Portugal claim to Brazil when it was discovered in 1500 by Pedro Cabral in his southwesterly arc through the Atlantic to catch the winds for Portugal’s second Indian Ocean expedition.

out of sight of land: McNeill, Rise of the West, 570.

“Christians and spices”: Quoted in Lewis, Muslim Discovery of Europe, 33.

cost of his voyage sixtyfold: Clough, 188.

use of crossbows: McNeill, Pursuit of Power, 100.

sea artillery: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 388-389.

“There is no doubt”: Kennedy, Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, 26.

price of pepper: Boorstin, 178.

reopen Pharaoh Neko’s old “Suez”: Lewis, What Went Wrong? 13.

Venice’s desperate offer: Cameron, 121.

boiled hot drinks: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 227. Chocolate and coffee were both considered medicinal when introduced to Europe, most probably because they were served hot. Boiled water was commonly sold on the streets in China.

yellow and putrid: Cited in Boorstin, 265.

Spanish Main: The Spanish Main was an area in the Caribbean enclosed by ports from Cartagena, Colombia, to Nombre de Dios, Panama, to Trujillo, Honduras, to Veracruz, Mexico.

interdicting the pay: Trevelyan, 238.

“difference of social character”: Ibid., 233.

more than 10 tons: Bernstein, Power of Gold, 138.

Spanish Armada: Howarth, 24-33; Davis, 100 Decisive Battles, 199-204.

shift of European power: Braudel, Afterthoughts, 84-86, 98. Historian Fernand Braudel reckons that the center of gravity of the European economy was anchored in Italy for several centuries until 1500, when it moved to Antwerp, then from 1550 to 1600 back to the Mediterranean in favor of Genoa (due to the wars in the north), and then definitively back north between 1590 and 1610 to Amsterdam, where it remained until the late eighteenth century, when it moved to London. In 1914 the center of the world economy crossed the Atlantic to New York.

contracted dysentery and died: Bernstein, Power of Gold, 138.

continued to be a leader: Smith, Man and Water, 28-33; Kolbert, 123-127.

half of the shipping: Cameron, 121-122.

closed Lisbon harbor: Spain had taken control of Portugal in 1580.

sea passages to the Spice Islands: Braudel, History of Civilizations, 263-264.

superiority at sea: French fleets, whose sailors were weakened by food and water shortages and disease caused by the insanitary conditions aboard ship at Brest, were slow to press their advantage.

Britain’s navy reigned supreme: Lambert, 104.

had kept their powder dry: Davis, 100 Decisive Battles, 241; Lambert, 122; Keay, 381-393.

winning command of the sea: Kennedy, Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, 124.

low water supplies: Davis, 100 Decisive Battles, 275.

Nelson himself, shot: Howarth, 75.

Chapter Nine: Steam Power, Industry, and the Age of the British Empire

King George III: George III ascended to the throne when his grandfather died suddenly of a burst blood vessel while in the royal water closet.

Little Ice Age: Ponting, 99-101. The Thames froze over 20 times between 1564 and 1814. France’s Rhone froze three times in the thirteen years between 1590 and 1603, and even the Guadalquiver at Seville in Spain froze in the winter of 1602-1603. By contrast, in a dramatic illustration of the large effects small temperature changes can have, the warm climatic period that ended about 1200 had fostered vineyards in England to the Severn in the north, arable farmland over large parts of southern Scotland’s uplands, and even habitable climates on the southern coast of Greenland.

converting coal into coke: Coke, an almost pure form of carbon, was produced from coal in a method similar to the way wood was converted into charcoal—it was heated in a closed vessel to burn off impurities, leaving behind a residue that was coke.

new shipbuilding was being outsourced: Pacey, 114.

“many domestic hearths cold”: Trevelyan, 430.

price of his coal: Bernstein, Wedding of the Waters, 40-45.

Canal du Midi: Ibid., 38-40. The driving force behind the Canal du Midi was a self-made tax collector of King Louis XIV’s, Baron Pierre-Paul de Riquet de Bonrepos, who was close to the king’s influential finance minister, Colbert, and spent his entire fortune in building it.

canal frenzy added 3,000 miles: Cameron, 174.

growing financial markets: The Glorious Revolution (1688-1689) played a critical role in creating the political and economic atmosphere favorable to private capital accumulation and investment, which was so essential to stirring the entrepreneurship and innovations of the Industrial Revolution.

Thomas Savery: Bronowski and Mazlish, 314; Cameron, 177-178; White, Medieval Technology, 89-93.

less than a hundred: Pacey, 113.

pumping water from a coal mine: Lira.

the watt: One watt is equal to 1/746 horsepower. Ironically, Watt invented the term horsepower by imagining the amount of coal a horse could lift from a mine in a defined period of time. He calculated that one horse could lift 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute.

“I sell here, Sir”: Matthew Boulton, quoted in English Merchants, by H. R. Fox Bourne (London: R. Bentley, 1866), cited in Heilbroner, Making of Economic Society, 119.

“The people in London”: Matthew Boulton, “Document 14, 21 June 1781: Matthew Boulton to James Watt,” in Tann, 54-55.

Darby silk-stocking factory: Pacey, 103, 107. The original silk-stocking factory was opened in 1702, but failed. Subsequent owners made a success of it after secretly copying the designs of an Italian silk-stocking plant.

spinning mule: The mule got its name by merging aspects of Arkwright’s water frame with James Hargreaves’s non-water-powered spinning jenny (1764). Crompton never earned the fruits of his invention; although mules were in use everywhere, he himself remained indigent.

had 52 two decades later: Cameron, 181.

produce goods less expensively: McNeill, World History, 368.

accelerated twelvefold: Heilbroner, Making of Economic Society, 81.

1 percent to 4 percent per year: Simmons, 201.

generated about 25 horsepower: Tann, 6-7. The British government, trying to preserve the country’s industrial leadership, limited the sale of larger Watt engines abroad.

nearly 500: Ibid., 6-7.

fountains and gardens at Versailles: The three-level waterworks was known as the Marly machine. Smith, Man and Water, 100-106. See also Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 227-231.

Paris’s 20,000 omnipresent water carriers: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 230.

nearly 1.4 million tons: Heilbroner, Making of Economic Society, 81.

Mastodon Mill: Ponting, 276.

1.7 percent per century: Per capita economic growth figures are derived from McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 6-7.

freshwater use grew: Ibid., 120-121.

400 miles per day: McNeill, Rise of the West, 766-767.

communications cable: Gordon, 212.

age of the ocean steamer: Cameron, 208.

traumatic, long-term challenges: Of the pattern of asserting of Western hegemony in the age of steam and iron, historian Fernand Braudel observes, “It is only a step from market to colony. The exploited have only to cheat, or to protest, and conquest immediately follows…. When civilizations clash the consequences are dramatic.” Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 102.

invention of the torpedo: Williams, 136.

Torpedo ranges multiplied: McNeill, Pursuit of Power, 284.

cut Germany’s five transatlantic cables: Gordon, 212-213.

one-fourth of world commerce: Cameron, 224.

travel time to India: Karsh and Karsh, 43.

ruler, Muhammad Ali: Ibid., 27-29.

De Lesseps finally got his chance: Ibid., 42-44.

no technical background: McCullough, 49.

funding from the Rothschild banking family: Ferguson, 231.

Fashoda Incident: Collins, 57-59.

1,300 liters of claret, 50 bottles of Pernod: Barnes, n.p.

Nasser himself likened it to a modern pyramid: “In antiquity we built pyramids for the dead,” Nasser said in 1964. “Now we build pyramids for the living.” Gamal Abdel Nasser, speech, May 14, 1964, quoted in Waterbury, 98.

“Well, as you have the money”: Fineman, 46-47, 48.

prearranged code word: “An Affair to Remember,” Economist, July 29, 2006, 23; Fineman, 40. Dulles should not have been so shocked by the canal nationalization because he had been warned of that potential consequence by the French ambassador.

“have his thumb on our windpipe”: Anthony Eden, quoted in Fineman, 62.

colluding to seize back the canal: Some 70 percent of the traffic in the canal was British; France was perturbed because it was at war in Algeria to put down a rebellion that Nasser was supporting.

“Anthony, have you gone out”: Dwight D. Eisenhower, quoted in Urquhart, 33. The Americans’ sense of betrayal was, in part, based on poor communication—from both sides. The Americans were not totally explicit about their unwillingness to support any military action in the Suez Affair, while the allies, knowing the Americans’ predilections, were not eager to ask for permission before acting, and miscalculated the Americans’ readiness to back them up once they had acted.

hydroelectric power station: The first hydroelectric plant was in Appleton, Wisconsin, on the Fox River in 1882.

pay up to eight times: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 175.

Chapter Ten: The Sanitary Revolution

infant mortality that claimed some 15 of every 100 children: Pacey, 187.

“What a pity”: Times (London), June, 18, 1858, cited in Halliday, ix.

clean freshwater daily: Peter H. Gleick, Elizabeth L. Chalecki, and Arlene K. Wong, “Measuring Water Well-Being: Water Indicators and Indices” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2002-2003, 101.

early spring rainwater: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 230.

artesian wells: One famous artesian well gave a much-needed boost to Paris’s water supply in 1841 when a large water deposit was struck at a depth of about 1,800 feet after eight laborious years of boring. The well, to public fascination, jetted 100 feet above the ground and was soon enclosed in a tall tower. Smith, Man and Water, 108.

distilled spirits: Braudel, Structures of Everyday Life, 241-242, 248.

fleet of water boats ferried freshwater: Ibid., 228. The boatmen, much like ubiquitous water carriers throughout European cities, even formed their own trade guild.

three times each week when dyers dumped: Ibid., 229.

“Whole quarters were sometimes without water”: Mumford, 463.

254-255. 30 gallons of wholesome springwater: Smith, Man and Water, 111.

private water carriers: The water supply expanded significantly in the thirteenth century, especially after a wealthy individual gave a grant to the city in 1237 of all the springs on his estate issuing from the Tyburn, a tributary of the Thames, near today’s Marble Arch.

three times per week: Chelsea Waterworks used water piped from Hertfordshire into Islington in north-central London through the 36-mile artificial New River to deliver its pledge. At the time of the Great Stink, the New River still supplied the largest volume of London’s water. Halliday, 21.

“charged with the contents”: John Wright, “The Dolphin or Grand Junction Nuisance,” published March 15, 1827, quoted in Smith, Man and Water, 112-113.

“Going down to my cellar”: Pepys, “Entry: Saturday 20 October 1660.”

guano: Halliday, 41.

“a certain flush with every pull”: Ibid., 42.

created a central board of health: McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, 240.

Death came from collapse: Biddle, 41.

first pandemic spread in Asia: McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, 232-233.

murdering victims in order to dissect: Karlen, 133-139.

three river embankments were constructed: The narrowing of the river caused by the embankments speeded the Thames’s flow, with the salutary benefit of helping whisk away the waste that had eluded the intercepting sewers.

Typhoid fever: Milk pasteurization and vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, and tuberculosis bacilli were among the other major antibacterial successes that inspired the medical conquest of many viruses.

human longevity to leap: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 199-200. U.S. life expectancies for white males rose from 56 to 75 between 1920 and 1990, up from a mere 30 to 40 years before the sanitary awakening, when infant mortality was so high. Worldwide average life spans leaped from 36 years in 1900 to over 65 in 1995.

Infant mortality plunged, falling to half of 1 percent: Cameron, 328; Economist staff, Pocket World in Figures, 2009 Edition, 83. Japan achieved the most spectacular improvement of any advanced nation, with a more than thirtyfold drop in infant mortality to the world’s lowest absolute levels.

20-mile-long sewage storage tunnel: “My Sewer Runneth Over,” Economist, March 22, 2007.

municipality-run water supply: Smith, Man and Water, 127. In heavily wood-constructed U.S. cities, firefighting was another important motivating factor in the early evolution of public water systems. New York City launched a board of health in 1866 directly modeled on the British prototype and driven by the same cholera fears.

waterborne disease fell sharply in America: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 196.

cleaner than the water in the Thames: Halliday, 107. Leftover liquids from the sludge were aerated to promote microbacterial activity that eliminated further impurities.

Moscow River received untreated nearly all the sewage: Ponting, 356.

Chapter Eleven: Water Frontiers and the Emergence of the United States

two froze to death marching: Morison, 243-244.

take control of the strategic Hudson waterway: They were to rendezvous at Albany. Both sides considered that the critical strategic spot for controlling the unbridged Hudson was West Point, south of Albany, because the river was wide enough for sailing ships to navigate up to that point, but not beyond, without the help of rowed tugs. To defend West Point, the colonials built a ring of forts buttressed by a chain they laid nearby across the Hudson.

personal entourage some three miles long: Wood, 33.

King George III’s bid to reassert monarchal authority: Trevelyan, 389-390.

Only seven rivers carried a greater volume of water: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 183.

encompassed over two-fifths of the continental United States: Barry, 21.

unusual feature of the lower Mississippi: Ibid., 38-39.

17 million acres of surrounding wetlands: Clarke and King, 70.

inveigled, to obtain U.S. domain over the lands: At the crucial moment, the Americans infuriated their French ally by contravening the spirit, though not the letter, of the Franco-American alliance by secretly negotiating separately with England to preempt the possibility that France and Spain might try to secure Gibraltar in exchange for England’s right to the lands west of the Appalachians.

in 1794 signed a controversial treaty: Despite losing the Revolutionary War, Great Britain did not give up on on its hope of winning the Mississippi for itself and British Canada until after the War of 1812. Its strategy was to try to hem in the United States to the east by creating native Indian buffer states west of the Appalachians.

feared ulterior American and British designs: Spain had good reason to worry. Alexander Hamilton was lobbying in Washington to personally lead an invasion force to seize Louisiana and Florida from militarily vulnerable Spain by arms.

“The day that France takes possession of New Orleans”: Thomas Jefferson to Robert Livingston, April 18, 1802, quoted in Tindall, 338.

“What would you give for the whole”: Talleyrand, quoted in Morison, 366.

he raised capital from private investors: Bernstein, Wedding of the Waters, 70-71; Achenbach, 19-20.

one-third of Britain’s fleet: Heilbroner and Singer, 43. See also Pacey, 114.

producing more total pig and bar iron than England: Heilbroner and Singer, 63-64.

Britain vigorously enforced sanctions: Some U.S. states offered bounties to anyone who smuggled out the sanctioned technology.

1,200 automated factories: Groner, 60.

interchangeable parts: In 1801, to demonstrate the effectiveness of his innovation, Whitney famously produced 10 muskets that he disassembled, put into piles, and then reassembled before the eyes of President John Adams and Vice President Thomas Jefferson.

1,200 factories with 2.25 million spindles: Morison, 483. A parallel celebrated woolen manufacturing city evolved, somewhat more slowly, on the same river in Lawrence.

turbines capable of 190 horsepower: Smith, Man and Water, 179. This was Uriah Boyden’s turbine for the Appleton Company of Lowell, starting in 1844. Pioneering breakthroughs in turbine design had been made in the 1820s by French engineers Jean-Victor Poncelet and Benoit Fourneyron.

Francis turbine: Ibid., 179-180, 185.

electricity could be produced: Man’s awareness of electricity dated at least to the sixth century BC to the father of Greek philosophy, Thales of Miletus, who observed static electricity’s effects after rubbing amber on light objects.

generating hydroelectricity from 5,500 horsepower Francis turbines: Smith, Man and Water, 185, 187.

consuming more electricity: Heilbroner and Singer, 262.

John Fitch: Williams, 100. See also Groner, 87.

western river steamboats were carrying freight: Groner, 88; Heilbroner and Singer, 97.

“when the United States shall be bound together”: Robert Fulton, “Mr. Fulton’s Communication.” Fulton made a similar point in a much-earlier letter (February 5, 1797) to President George Washington, who had just received a copy of Fulton’s Treatise on the Improvement of Canal Navigation (1796). Advocating the benefits of canals over investments in land or river transport in general, and a business proposal for a canal between Philadelphia and Lake Erie in particular, Fulton wrote that such canals “would penetrate the Interior Country And bind the Whole In the bonds of Social Intercourse.” Fulton, “Letter from Robert Fulton to President George Washington.”

“It is little short of madness”: Thomas Jefferson, quoted in “Claims of Joshua Forman,” in Hosack, Memoir of De Witt Clinton, Appendix Note U. Reminded years later of his comment in a letter from DeWitt Clinton, Jefferson mused in his late 1822 reply upon what marvelous qualities they were that enabled the state to execute such a great enterprise that “anticipated, by a full century, the ordinary progress of improvement.”

New York state limestone that acted like waterproof Roman cement: Chittenango cement, as it was called, was found near Syracuse.

foreigners held over half: Bernstein, Wedding of the Waters, 235.

through seven miles of solid rock face: Ibid., 280-284. Lockport, as the nearby town was called, later used the canal’s surplus water as an important electricity producer. The normal locks were eight feet, four inches.

symbolic wedding of the waters: Ibid., 319. This ritual wedding of the waters was reminiscent of how Venetians tossed rings into their city’s canal to symbolize its marriage to the sea.

slashed freight transportation costs by 90 percent: Heilbroner and Singer, 94.

cheapest route to Pittsburgh: Morison, 478.

more than 3,000 miles of canals: Cameron, 230.

economy expanded on average about 2.8 percent per year: Bernstein, Wedding of the Waters, 347.

100 gallons of water per day: Koeppel, 287. Other main sources used in this section are Galusha and Grann.

specially written “Croton Ode”: Koeppel, 280-283.

“Nothing is talked of or thought of”: “Croton Water: October 12, 1842,” in Hone, 130-131.

surge in per capita consumption: Galusha, 35. Daily consumption rose from 12 million gallons per day to 40 million in the eight years from 1842 to 1850.

authorities used high-handed land appropriations: In the same period, Los Angeles was constructing its aqueduct (completed 1913) from ruthlessly acquired water rights to the Owens River 250 miles away.

first deep, high-pressure subterranean conduit: Galusha, 113; Grann, 93.

“equitable apportionment without quibbling”: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 16, State of New Jersey v. State of New York and City of New York, May 4, 1931, cited in Galusha, 113.

1.3 billion gallons to 9 million people: Galusha, 265. About 50 percent of the water came from the Delaware Aqueduct, 40 percent from the Catskills, and 10 percent from the nineteenth-century Croton system. In addition to the central water tunnels, the system included 6,200 miles of water mains that helped distribute water to end users.

Its sewerage counterpart: Chicago’s water system also featured one of engineering history’s innovative and culturally indicative early twentieth-century marvels. In contrast to New York, Chicago drew its freshwater from the huge natural reservoir at its doorstep, Lake Michigan. In the nineteenth century, the lake also was the sewage dump of the Chicago River. Disease plagued the city until 1867, when it built a drinking-water intake tunnel two miles out into the lake. But population growth overtook it. In 1885 a heavy storm flushed the increased volume of sewage discharge out beyond the intake valves. The epidemics returned. Chicago responded with an innovative, ambitious civil-engineering project—the reversal of the flow of the Chicago River. By 1900 the 28-mile-long Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal diverted the river southward to dilute and drain into the Mississippi watershed instead of into Lake Michigan. Not everyone hailed the largest earthmoving civil-engineering project until the Panama Canal, however. The state of Missouri, complaining about increased pollution on the Mississippi at St. Louis, pursued litigation. The earthmoving technology used on the Chicago River project was soon applied in building the monumental Panama Canal.

Sutter’s new waterwheel-powered sawmill: Bernstein, Power of Gold, 223-225.

San Francisco swelled into a booming city: Morison, 569.

hurdy-gurdy wheels: Smith, Man and Water, 182. Bernstein, The Power of Gold, 14.

drew 300,000 to California by 1860: Worster, 65.

speedier, full-rigged clippers: Morison, 583.

the Panama railway: McCullough, 36.

set himself up as Nicaragua’s president: Morison, 580-581.

Chapter Twelve: The Canal to America’s Century

John Paul Jones’s heroic sea victories: Love, 1:22-24.

U.S. Navy earned the respect: Morison, 350-351.

one-fifth of America’s annual government revenue: Morison, 363-364.

give up its long-term designs on the Mississippi: Napoléon’s abdication in April 1814 allowed England to concentrate on invading the United States, which it planned to do in three places in succession—Niagara, Lake Champlain, and New Orleans—while raiding the Chesapeake. While the Chesapeake raid led to the torching of the White House and the bombardment of Baltimore that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the other battles were determinative. The dramatic naval victories were Captain Oliver Hazard Perry’s victories on Lake Erie and the U.S. victory at Niagara Falls, and, even more dramatically, Captain Thomas Macdonough’s victory at Plattsburg on Lake Champlain, which halted the British plan to take the Hudson and sever the United States, as it had tried to do in the War of Independence. The navy assisted in the defense of New Orleans, where Andrew Jackson made his fame.

America’s special sphere of influence: In the 1830s U.S. military ships also began around-the-world explorative expeditions.

rapid growth in demand for U.S. manufactured goods: Heilbroner and Singer, 180-181, note that U.S. exports tripled from 1870 to 1900 and that manufacturing’s share doubled from 15 percent to 32 percent. Kennedy, Rise and Fall, 245, writes that from 1860 to 1914 U.S. exports grew sevenfold while imports rose only fivefold.

“The seaboard of a country is one of its frontiers”: Mahan, 35.

“the Caribbean would be changed from a terminus”: Ibid., 33.

excite America’s “aggressive impulse”: Ibid., 26.

wrote a glowing review of it: McCullough, 252.

“There is a homely adage”: Theodore Roosevelt, quoted in Morison, 823.

“Remember the Maine!”: Love, 1:388-389; Morison, 800-801.

Naval investment that totaled 6.9 percent: Kennedy, Rise and Fall, 247. In absolute dollars, naval spending rose almost sevenfold, from $22 million in 1890 to $139 million in 1914.

Several locations were considered: De Witt Clinton, impresario of the Erie Canal, gave his blessing to a canal at Nicaragua; celebrated British engineer Thomas Telford, who had designed Scotland’s pioneering, lock-based Caledonian Canal, also studied a water passage near Darien in southern Panama.

excited the whole French nation: De Lesseps got off to a dazzling start. When the major French and international financial institutions eschewed his company’s initial public offering, he broke new ground in French capitalism by launching the venture with funds raised from the savings of 80,000 small investors, most purchasing one to five shares each.

20,000 workers and managers died: McCullough, 235.

de Lesseps was convicted of fraud: De Lesseps was sentenced to five years, but due to age was excused from prison. His son, Charles, who had overseen the day-to-day operation, was convicted, too, and served jail time.

U.S. interoceanic canal commission: McCullough, 264-265.

Panama was indeed the superior technical route: Ibid., 326-327.

backed by powerful Wall Street bankers: The backroom Panama lobby had been influential enough to get McKinley to appoint a second interoceanic commission with several new members after the first had ruled in favor of Nicaragua, but not enough to get it to change its recommendation.

nation’s own one centavo stamp: McCullough, 323-324.

Roosevelt tacitly signaled his support: Ibid., 338, 340, 382; Morison, 824-825.

the uprising had not yet occurred: Morison, 825; McCullough, 364-367.

“Colombia was hit by the big stick”: Morison, 826.

“by far the most important action I took”: Roosevelt, Autobiography, 512.

“I took the Isthmus”: Roosevelt, “Charter Day Address,” Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia, 407.

“Tell them that I am going to make the dirt fly!”: Roosevelt, quoted in Nation, November 23, 1905, cited in McCullough, 408. See also Morison, 826.

33,000 to 40,000 annually: Panama Canal Authority—Canal History, “Panama Canal History—workforce,”

26 million gallons of fresh lake water: Cornelia Dean, “To Save Its Canal, Panama Fights for Its Forests,” New York Times, May 24, 2005.

By 1970, over 15,000 ships: McCullough, 611-612. In 1955 Suez had 14,555 ships. Morison, 1,093.

shipping revolution: The revolution had transformed the world’s ports. No longer were cargo ships unloaded at docks. Instead, intermodal containers were lifted directly onto waiting trains and trucks to be transported directly to their final destinations.

“The fifty miles between the oceans”: McCullough, 613-614.

American naval history’s three eras: Love, 1:xiii.

United States entered World War I: The March 1917 sinking of three U.S. merchantmen, with heavy loss of life, as well as the interception of the Zimmermann telegram suggesting a German-Mexican alliance that could threaten U.S. security, were proximate causes.

Midway was the first sea battle: Howarth, 152-163. No U.S. aircraft carriers had been destroyed at Pearl. The intelligence breakthrough that tipped the Americans off to Japan’s secret intention to attack the Midway atolls occurred when U.S. radio signalers purposely sent out a bogus, uncoded message that the water distillation plant on American-controlled Midway had broken down, and then later intercepted Japanese radio operators relaying the message, in Japanese code, that Midway was without water.

combined power of the world’s next nine leading military nations: Kennedy, “Eagle Has Landed,” I, III; Kennedy, “Has the U.S. Lost Its Way?” Some estimates have the United States spending as much on its armed forces as the world’s next nine biggest military powers combined.

Chapter Thirteen: Giant Dams, Water Abundance, and the Rise of Global Society

Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado increased by more than 1 million: Smith, Virgin Land, 174, 184.

depopulated by one-fourth to one-half: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 107.

“When the arid lands”: Turner, 258. Turner also wrote, “No longer is it a question of how to avoid or cross the Great Plains and the arid desert. It is a question of how to conquer those rejected lands…It is a problem of how to bring precious rills of water to the alkali and sage brush.” Ibid., 294.

expanded their irrigated cropland fifteenfold: Worster, 77.

unleashed a flood that killed 2,200: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 107-108.

1.25 million small farmers to cultivate 100 million acres: Worster, 132-139; Smith, Virgin Land, 196-198; Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 45-50. By careful management of water rights, Powell argued, small farms of only 80 acres—half the Homestead Act size of 160 acres for dry farms—could be viable.

“In the arid region it is water”: T. Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message, December 3, 1901,”

“The forest and water problems”: Ibid.

over half of irrigation project farmers were defaulting: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 116.

1920s, the U.S. agricultural sector: Two of the main causes of the agricultural depression were a decline in foreign export demand from war-recovering Europe and a fall in commodity prices due to increased productivity from farm mechanization; as a result, four out of 10 of the 7 million U.S. farmers were tenants, not freeholders, in 1929.

might well have vanished at that point: Instead, in 1923 the Reclamation Service was purged, its leader replaced, and renamed the Bureau of Reclamation.

few dams had surpassed 150 feet: A Roman dam at Subiaco was about 130 feet, and was hardly surpassed for 1,500 years. In Persia, the Mongols of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries built the 190-foot Kurit Dam, which was the tallest on Earth for 500 years. Smith, History of Dams, 32, 235, 236; Billington et al., 50.

Hoover Dam: Hoover is a concrete, arched-gravity dam. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region, 30-36.

ingrained skepticism of the water bureaucracy establishment: Billington et al., 90-91. The multipurpose approach was especially controversial inside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose main mission was navigation.

government a big player in the private electricity business: In the 1930s private power plants in the West generated 3.5 million horsepower versus only 50,000 by the government in 1920. Hoover’s original 1.7 million horsepower, therefore, dramatically altered the political economy of electricity in the West.

14 million acre-feet per year: An acre-foot measured the volume that would cover one acre with one foot of water. It was equal to 325,851 gallons, or 1,233.5 cubic meters.

its flow was schizophrenic: Billington et al., 136. The Colorado’s intensity ranged from 2,500 to more than 300,000 cubic feet per second.

17 times siltier than the muddy Mississippi: McNeil, Something New Under the Sun, 178.

“too thick to drink, too thin to plow”: Michael Cohen, “Managing across Boundaries: The Case of the Colorado River Delta,” in Gleick, The World’s Water, 2002-2003, 134.

name was changed from the Valley of the Dead: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 122-123.

Salton Sink swelled with water: The years 1905 to 1907 were some of the wettest in the Colorado basin’s history. Since then, the Salton Sea, which initially acted like a reservoir, has continually shrunk from natural evaporation and is now very salty.

Los Angeles stepped forward in 1924 with a proposal: Billington et al., 160-161.

small Los Angeles River: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 53, 60, 73.

outflanked and killed Reclamation’s own farm irrigation plan: At a critical moment, Teddy Roosevelt threw his support to Los Angeles and arranged for his Forest Service to kill the Reclamation Service’s claims by declaring that much of Owens Valley would henceforth be national parkland.

Posing as cattlemen and as resort developers: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 68-69.

secretly buying up cheap land options: Ibid., 75-76. The key reason Mulholland wanted to route the water through San Fernando was that the unused portion could be stored there. This allowed him to use all of Los Angeles’s share of the Owens River, which was essential to maintain the city’s claim under the western water law of appropriation rights, popularly known as “use it or lose it.” As a direct result of the Owens River water, the San Fernando Valley was soon incorporated into Los Angeles. Among the insiders were Harrison Gray Otis and Harry Chandler of the Los Angeles Times, railroadmen Edward Harriman and Henry Huntington, and bankers Joseph Artori of Security Trust and Savings Bank and L. C. Brand of the Title Guarantee and Trust Company.

population surpassed Mulholland’s expectations: Billington et al., 161.

violent reaction from irate Owens Valley farmers: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 92-95.

broke the last local opposition to Mulholland’s bid: A chief opponent was the powerful Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, who placed greater importance on the near-term hit to the value of his large acreage in Mexico than on the long-term growth of Los Angeles. The Owens Valley problem also expedited the creation of regional water districts with taxing powers in order to raise funds to purchase the dam’s hydroelectricity to pump its water up the escarpment through the aqueduct and across the Mojave Desert.

divided the river into an upper and lower basin: The upper-basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico supplied over 90 percent of the Colorado’s water.

7.5 million acre-feet were assigned to each basin: Billington et al., 158-159; U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region, 10; Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 262-263.

builders constructed their own steel-fabricating plant: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 128-129; U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamaton, Lower Colorado Region, 15-23.

the strike was broken, with the federal government’s tacit approval: Billington et al., 174-175. The Bureau of Reclamation also declared the construction site to be federal land to circumvent Nevada law prohibiting the underground use of internal combustion engines on health safety grounds.

“I came, I saw, and I was conquered”: Franklin D. Roosevelt, quoted in Billington et al., 179.

five largest structures on Earth, all dams: Reisner, “Age of Dams and Its Legacy.”

hydroelectricity for the entire population living west: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 155.

the Grand Coulee: Billington et al., 206.

Roosevelt started the project on his own: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 156-157.

36 huge dams would be built on the Columbia: Ibid., 165.

Grand Coulee Dam: Worster, 271.

providing 40 percent of America’s total hydroelectricity: Billington et al., 191.

hydroelectricity sales heavily subsidized the building of the dam: Worster, 271. Ninety percent of the costs were covered with hydroelectricity sales; in the absence of a strong agribusiness lobby, the government made a concerted effort to limit existing users to the same water subsidies that were to be provided only to small 160-acre farms under the 1902 Reclamation legislation.

92 percent of Grand Coulee’s and Bonneville’s electricity output: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 162, 164. By the middle of the war, half of total U.S. aluminum production—which requires electrical power—was located in the Pacific Northwest. The United States produced some 60,000 warplanes in four years of war.

23,500 well pipes pumped up prodigious amounts: Ibid., 151, 335.

“The Central Valley Project”: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 336-337. Among the big landowners receiving subsidized waters were food giant DiGiorgio Corporation, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and Standard Oil.

most intensively water-engineered place on the planet: Reisner, “Age of Dams and Its Legacy.”

Tennessee River basin: Morison, 960-964. The river, 652 miles long, rises in the Appalachians of North Carolina and Virginia and flows west, where it empties in the Ohio River near Paducah, Kentucky.

staircase of 42 dams and reservoirs: Specter, 68; Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 167.

results transformed the Tennessee Valley: Morison, 963. Electricity prices fell from 2.4 cents to 1 cent per kilowatt-hour.

75,000 dams had been built: Specter, 68.

6,600 large ones over 50 feet: Peet, 9; Sandra Postel, “Hydro Dynamics,” 62.

343-344. Bureau of Reclamation cataloged: Worster, 277.

17 western states had 45.4 million acres under irrigation: Ibid., 276-277.

American water use for all purposes multiplied tenfold: Ibid., 312. Water use rose from 40 billion gallons per day to 393 billion between 1900 and 1975. U.S. Census figures show that population rose from 76 to 216 million in the same period.

40 percent of American cattle: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 154; McGuire, “Water-Level Changes in the High Plains Aquifer, 1980-1999” Pearce 59.

Ogallala only half an inch per year: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 438.

gigantic cloud of stinging, shearing dust: Ibid., 452. See also Evans, American Century, 232-233.

60 major, sky-blackening dust storms each year: Evans, American Century, 232. There were 40 major dust storms in 1935, 68 in 1936, 72 in 1937, and 61 in 1938.

3.5 million “Dust Bowl refugees”: Ibid., 234.

centrifugal pump could lift 800 gallons: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 436.

could raise water even faster: Glennon, Water Follies, 26. The new techniques were capable of pumping 1,200 gallons per minute.

Ogallala annual water use quadrupled: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 154; McGuire, “Water-Level Changes in the High Plains Aquifer, 1980-1999.”

growing 15 percent of that nation’s wheat, corn, cotton: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 437, 448-449.

drawing water out of the Ogallala 10 times faster: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 154.

Ogallala reservoir would last: Ibid. Irrigation peaked in northern Texas in the mid-1970s and began contracting across the High Plains as a whole in 1983. On Central Valley overpumping, see Felicity Barringer, “As Aquifers Fall, Calls to Regulate the Use of Groundwater Rise,” New York Times, May 14, 2009.

U.S. groundwater usage more than doubled: Robert Glennon, “Bottling a Birthright,” in McDonald and Jehl, 17. Over that thirty years, groundwater usage increased from 8 to 18.5 billion gallons per day—65 gallons per person.

19 large dams and reservoirs held four times: The last dam on the river was the hydroelectric giant Glen Canyon, completed in the mid-1960s.

Every drop was used and reused 17 times: Cohen, 134.

starting to take up to an additional 900,000 acre-feet: Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 260-261.

salinity at the river’s halfway point: Worster, 321-322.

scrambled to develop emergency plans: Gertner.

75 percent of the state’s entire agricultural output: Bureau of Reclamation, “Central Valley Project—General Overview,”

water-efficient industries and cities: For example, 1,000 acre-feet of water used to produce semiconductors and other high-tech applications created some 16,000 jobs, while the same water on pasture farms added only eight jobs; Las Vegas and Reno used 10 percent of Nevada’s water but accounted for 95 percent of its economy—while marginal alfalfa farmers who consumed most of the rest couldn’t survive without the water subsidy.

United States decommissioning surpassed new construction by 2000: Clarke and King, 44. As it often did, the change in American domestic attitudes within the leading world power helped condition opinions at world institutions. In 2000 the U.N.’s World Commission on Dams reported that the negative effects of many large dam projects outweighed the benefits and urged nations to explore alternative approaches to satisfying their water resource needs.

the United States had more than 50,000 toxic waste dumps: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 29.

released naturally by all the volcanoes in Earth’s history: Ponting, 366.

deadly radioactive waste: Nuclear waste afflicted both America’s Columbia River and the Soviet Union’s upper Ob River basin in western Siberia, which became the most radioactive place on Earth. In 1967, when a prolonged drought dried the bed of Lake Karachay, into which the Soviets had disposed nuclear waste, lake dust carrying 3,000 times the radioactivity of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was scattered by the winds over half a million people in central Asia; the area remained so radioactive twenty years later that anyone visiting the lakeshore for an hour risked death from the radiation.

“The pollution entering our waterways”: Carson, 39, 41.

“The problem of water pollution by pesticides”: Ibid., 39.

“Along with the possibility of the extinction of mankind”: Ibid., 8.

combusted on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River: Specter, 69. Similar fires on India’s Ganges and Russia’s Volga rivers in the same period attested to the universality of the environmental problem.

Earth Summits of heads of state: Earth Summits were held at Rio de Janeiro (1992) and Johannesburg (2002). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues reports every five or six years (1990, 1995, 2001, 2007). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, inaugurated by Kofi Annan, was published in 2005.

“Every drop of water that runs to the sea without yielding”: Herbert Hoover, quoted in Glennon, Water Follies, 13; Joseph Stalin, quoted in Peet, 11.

“the new temple of resurgent India”: Jawaharlal Nehru, quoted in Specter, 68.

Soviet Union increased its water use eightfold: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 163.

358-359. double irrigated cropland in the first quarter century: Ibid., 179, 278. Water use, meanwhile, quintupled during the same period; see also Jim Yardley, “Under China’s Booming North, the Future Is Drying Up,” New York Times, September 28, 2007.

India’s 4,300 large dams ranked it third: Peet, 9.

13 were being erected on average every day: Ibid., 9-10.

World reservoir capacity quadrupled: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 26.

World hydropower output doubled: Ibid., 5. World population doubled from 3 to 6 billion from 1960 to 2000, while economic output sextupled.

irrigation nearly tripled in the half century: Hans Schreier, “Mountain Wise and Water Smart,” in McDonald and Jehl, 90.

all the corn grown in the United States was hybrid: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 220.

Hybrid dwarf wheat: Dwarf wheat started in the 1920s with Norin 10, a semi-dwarf variety developed in Japan that crossed Japanese and U.S. varieties, then was further crossbred in Mexico in the 1950s by pathbreaking plant breeder Norman Borlaug, who won a Nobel Prize in 1970 for his work.

hybrid varietals increased their share: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 222.

60 percent of all larger river systems in the world: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 32.

best hydropower and irrigation dam sites: This was not true in Africa, which had for the most part been bypassed by the Green Revolution and still had good, untapped hydropower potential.

“for a small but measurable change in the wobble of the earth”: Gleick, “Making Every Drop Count,” 42.

retired as fast as new irrigated land was developed: Simmons, 258.

10 percent of world farming was unsustainable: Postel, “Growing More Food with Less Water,” 46-47.

Chapter Fourteen: Water: The New Oil

half the renewable global runoff: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 106.

1.1 billion people: United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation, 4.

lives are uprooted catastrophically: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 13; United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation, 17.

occurred from 1999 to 2005: Peter H. Gleick, “Environment and Security: Water Conflict Chronology,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 207-212. Yemen, Jordan, Namibia, Sicily, and Algeria were among the multitude of places where water was rationed. Fierce, perennial litigation over water rights was normative in the United States and other countries governed by credible rules of law. The annals between 1999 and 2005 provided an illustrative sample of the increasingly commonplace violent protests and clashes within countries. Chinese farmers from Hebei and Henan provinces fired mortars and bombs at one another in a battle over limited water resources; a year later small-scale water wars and riots broke out, leading to several deaths, in Shandong province along the Yellow River when the government tried to stop thousands of farmers illegally diverting water from a reservoir earmarked to supply China’s drying northern cities. In Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third-largest city, one person died when 30,000 protesters clashed with police for several days in a fury over the government’s privatization of the municipal water delivery system, which pushed prices up to one-quarter of many residents’ wages. Karachi, Pakistan, was shaken by four bombings and riots from demonstrators chanting “Give us water” during a period of prolonged drought. Neighboring India had several incidents and deaths in different parts of the country, including riots in Gujarat when water trucks regularly failed to provide enough water. More than 20 were killed in tribal violence in northwestern Kenya following charges by Masai herdsmen that a local Kikuyu politician had diverted a river to irrigate his farm. Somalia’s “War of the Well” claimed 250 dead as villagers clashed in the extensive violence that accompanied the three-year drought and dysfunctional central government. Water wells in Darfur were intentionally destroyed and contaminated as part of the campaign of genocidal ethnic cleansing.

“Many of the wars”: Ismail Serageldin, quoted in “Of Water and Wars.”

“now well beyond levels that can be sustained”: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 6.

rise from half to 70 percent by 2025: Sterling, 30.

372-373. one-quarter of global freshwater use: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 6, 106-107. Fifteen percent to 35 percent of withdrawals for irrigated crops were drawn from depleting resources.

265 gallons for a single glass: Pearce, 3-4.

ordinary cotton T-shirt: Sterling, 31.

By 2025 up to 3.6 billion people: Postel, Last Oasis, xvi.

virtual water: J. A. Allan, professor at Kings College London and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, won the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize for his pioneering work on the concept of virtual water in the early 1990s.

evaporation-transpiration: Transpiration is the process of water vapor emission from organic matter such as plants and humans.

that one-third totals enough: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 119; Postel, Last Oasis, 28; Pearce, 28.

large share runs off unused: The Amazon watershed alone accounted for 15 percent of the runoff, while only four-tenths of 1 percent of the world’s population lived there.

in Africa only one-fifth of all rainfall: Clarke, Water: The International Crisis, 10.

history’s poorest societies often had: Grey and Sadoff, 545.

90 percent of the dry-land inhabitants: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 13.

governments still routinely maintain monopolistic control: In the United States, water was the one surviving great state monopoly, which had previously included electricity and telecommunications.

“tragedy of the commons”: As used here, the term tragedy of the commons refers to the social trap caused by combined individual exploitation of a shared resource that is injurious to the greater public good. The concept has a long history, but was coined in modern times in a famous 1968 essay in Science by biologist Garrett Hardin.

Aral Sea: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 163-164.

Lake Chad: Pearce, 85. Lake Chad had oscillated in size from natural forces since at least the Middle Ages. A natural peak was reached in 1962 with a drainage zone comparable in size to continental western Europe. About half to one-third of the shrinkage from the 1960s to 2004 was estimated to have come from man-made irrigation water diversions. The major irrigation dam projects were in Nigeria and Cameroon.

paid little more than 10 percent: Postel, Last Oasis, 166-167.

378-379. Mexico City loses enough water every day: Sterling, 32; Gleick, “Making Every Drop Count,” 43.

“Nothing is more useful than water”: Smith, Wealth of Nations, 174.

“When the well is dry”: Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1733, cited in “Water Fact Sheet Looks at Threats, Trends, Solutions,” Pacific Institute,

1,700 times markup: Lavelle and Kurlantzick.

$400 billion per year industry: Peter H. Gleick and Jason Morrison, “Water Risks That Face Business and Industry,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 158-165. Water utilities were dominated by two French and one German company: Veolia Environnement, Suez S.A., and RWE Thames Water. GE had made a $3.2 billion investment in the $140 billion per year wastewater services sector. The fragmentation of the water business made reliable estimates of comprehensive industry size hard to come by. Some $85 billion per year was spent on private industrial water treatment to supply purified water to water-intensive industries, such as semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, certain chemical processing, pulp and paper, and food and petrochemicals. Drinking-water purification, desalinization, and water distribution infrastructure were other large segments.

aquifer reservoirs accumulated by nature: A good deal of this deep fossil water was inaccessible even with modern drilling technologies.

have less than 700 gallons per person: Postel, Last Oasis, 28-29. Less than 1,000 cubic meters (2,740 liters) daily per capita defined water scarcity, 1,000 to 2,000 per day defined water stress, and more than 2,000 per day defined water sufficiency. Clarke, Water, 12, cites more than 20 percent of runoff used as a sign of water scarcity; 10 to 20 percent usage as a serious water problem, and less than 5 percent usage as water sufficiency.

world resource demand increases: Diamond, Collapse, 495. Diamond argues that by far the greatest impact comes from the 80 percent who live in the third world, including the rising Chinese and Indian populations, increasing their meager consumption of water and other resources to the prodigious levels of Western industrial societies.

Chapter Fifteen: Thicker Than Blood: The Water-Famished Middle East

outgrew their internal water resources: Allan, 6.

“the Middle East and North Africa”: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 33.

quadrupling of Middle East wheat flour imports: Allan, 8.

shallow wells and qanats: Much of the drinking water of modern Tehran was still supplied by qanats.

forecast to swell another 63 percent to 600 million: Andrew Martin, “Mideast Facing Difficult Choice, Crops or Water,” New York Times, July 21, 2008.

75 million inhabitants: Economist staff, Pocket World in Figures, 2009, 16.

completion of the high dam at Aswan: Some 96 percent of Egyptians lived on the crowded “ribbon of land along the Nile’s banks,” which comprised a mere 4 percent of the country’s total area. Elhance, 6.

“The national security of Egypt”: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, quoted in “Water Scarcity, Quality in Africa Aggravated by Augmented Population Growth, International Environmental Reporter, October 1989, cited in Postel, Last Oasis, 73.

“We depend upon the Nile 100 percent”: Anwar el-Sadat, quoted in Collins, 213.

25 million: See Smith, Man and Water, 205; Collins, 140.

within a dozen feet of reaching the total shutoff levels: Collins, 225-226.

“The only matter that could take Egypt to war again”: Anwar el-Sadat, quoted in Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 202. Senior Egyptian officials have made the same point repeatedly since then, including then Egyptian foreign minister and future U.N. secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who said in 1988: “The next war in our region will be over the waters of the Nile, not politics.”

“Preserving Nile waters for Egypt”: Boutros-Ghali, 322.

Mengistu Haile Mariam: Collins, 214-215. Mengistu overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie, whose longtime dream had been a dam at Lake Tana, in 1974. By 1978 he began pressing for Ethiopia’s internal development of its water resources with a dam. Mengistu aggravated his bad relations with Sadat by conjuring up historic Ethiopian fears of Egyptian-Islamic territorial ambitions in the Horn of Africa, accusing Egypt of stirring up trouble in his country’s backyard by arming Somalis in the Ogaden and supporting breakaway rebels in Eritrea.

the bureau concluded: Collins, 171.

found an accommodating negotiating partner: At first Nasser had tried and failed to bully Sudan’s leaders into acquiescence by pressing Egyptian territorial claims on Sudan’s ancient Nubia.

agreed to move jointly against upstream nations: Erlich, 6.

Selassie had obtained public declarations of support: Collins, 170. The United States conditioned its backing for Nile waters development for the Aswan Dam upon the cooperation of all Nile states.

several times costlier: Grey and Sadoff, 545-571. World Bank water experts David Grey and Claudia Sadoff note that water-shock-prone countries are typically among the world’s poorest, and that such countries often face more difficult hydrological patrimonies than industrialized nations did during their earlier phases of economic takeoff.

Nile Waters Agreement: Egypt’s Master Water Plan of 1981, which envisioned increasing Nile water yields by up to one-quarter through new projects situated upstream, also rather fancifully ignored the region’s rampant political instability and any deleterious environmental side effects.

abruptly terminated in 1984: The Darfur genocide in western Sudan, likewise, was supported by Sudan’s northern-led Muslim government and included assaults on the water supplies of indigenous, mostly black non-Muslim residents.

Egypt blocked an African Development Bank loan: Alan Cowell, “Cairo Journal: Now, a Little Steam. Later, Maybe a Water War,” New York Times, February 7, 1990.

Israeli…engineers were doing feasibility studies: Darwish; Ward, 197.

diversion of an additional 5 billion cubic meters: Allan, 67-68, 152-153. The New Valley Project was intended to transform Egypt’s desolate desert northeast of Aswan into an agricultural and industrial oasis for some 7 million people relocated from Egypt’s overcrowded Nile corridor.

“While Egypt is taking the Nile water”: Meles Zenawi, quoted in Mike Thomson, “Nile Restrictions Anger Ethiopia,” BBC News, February 3, 2005, While steadfastly denying that they blocked international financing for other countries’ irrigation projects, Egyptian leaders argued that they were compelled by Egypt’s lack of natural rainfall and domestic demographic trends to expand water diversion for ambitious new desert developments. In 2005, Dia El Quosy, a senior adviser to the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, told the BBC, “It’s not only the production of food. It’s also about the generation of employment. Some 40% of our manpower are farmers and if these people are not given opportunities and jobs they will immediately move to the cities and you can see how crowded Cairo is already.” When asked in 2003 if Egypt would respond with force if Ethiopia or an independent southern Sudan region cut Nile flows north, Boutros-Ghali replied, “I don’t believe that any country will dare to cut the water because…the national security of Egypt is based on water, on the sources of the Nile.” “Talking Point.”

heavily subsidized prices: “Of Water and Wars” Elhance, 60. In the late 1990s, subsidies for energy, some for pumping and moving water, amounted to another $4 to $6 billion.

“Among the pervasive beliefs in Egyptian culture”: Collins, 218.

imports—providing up to two-fifths: Brown, “Grain Harvest Growth Slowing.”

30 miles inland: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 170-171.

from 32 to only 2 billion cubic meters: Lester Brown, “The Effect of Emerging Water Shortages on the World’s Food,” in McDonald and Jehl, 85; McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 170-171.

they are projected to add nearly 50 percent: Economist staff, Pocket World in Figures, 2009, 16, 17.

might decline up to 25 percent: Elhance, 58.

Mubarak called in the army: “Not by Bread Alone,” Economist, April 12, 2008, 55.

Nile Basin Initiative: Sadoff and Grey, “Beyond the River.” Sadoff and Grey posit four potential sources of gain from cooperation: (1) better management of ecosystems supporting the basin; (2) higher yields from the rivers; (3) reduction in costs from competition and tensions; and (4) benefits, such as increased trade, between nations arising from their amity in river cooperation.

10 billion cubic meters: Interview with Nile Basin Initiative participant.

withdrawing 3.2 billion cubic meters: Sher, 36. See also Allan, 74-77. The total of 3.2 billion cubic meters (2.6 million acre-feet) includes Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, but excludes Syria on the basin’s periphery.

one-third as much freshwater as needed: Allan, 76.

Eric Johnston: Ibid., 78; Postel, “Sharing the River out of Eden,” 61.

doom the landmark water accord: Elhance, 113. The Johnston plan operated on the principle that surface water should be allocated by reasonable proximity to irrigable land fed by natural gravity, which placed useful needs above territorial land rights to water. Although the plan was not enacted, the proportions it allocated remained the baseline for water-sharing negotiations over the next half a century.

Golda Meir had put Israel’s Arab neighbors on notice: Postel, “Sharing the River out of Eden,” 62. On the Skirmish over the Jordan, see also Darwish.

“In reality the Six Day War”: Sharon, 167.

Arab air force lay smoldering: Goldschmidt, 326. The Suez Canal would be closed for eight years. It remained the violent front line between the two enemies, marked by occasional firing across its waters and air skirmishes above it. The Yom Kippur War (1973) began with a simultaneous surprise assault by Syria on the Golan Heights and an amphibious thrust by Egypt across the canal to establish a bridgehead that allowed its troops to temporarily recover much of the Sinai. But when General Ariel Sharon and a small tank force snuck behind Egyptian lines nine days later and managed to cut off the Egyptian expeditionary force from Egypt proper, the Suez Canal water boundary line was reestablished for another two years.

another third of Israel’s water: Allan, 82. The three headwater tributaries of the Jordan—the Banias, the Hasbani, and the Dan—all originated in springs fed by an underground aquifer on the slopes of Mount Hermon in the Golan. Another one-fifth of Israel’s water supply was recycled, and desalinization plants had capacity for another one-third and were replacing the water in the depleting coastal aquifer. Israel wasted little time in augmenting the flow from the Golan by opening new springs in the Huleh Valley to channel more floodwaters to the Sea of Galilee.

20 to 40 percent of their income for water: Pearce, 160-161. On the decline in West Bank Palestinian irrigated cropland see Darwish.

Gaza Aquifer: Postel, “Sharing the River out of Eden,” 63. Gaza water was below the minimal drinking water standards of the World Health Organization. The international community financed, with Israeli approval, a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant in Gaza to try to mitigate the problem.

1987 intifada: Aaron T. Wolf, “‘Water Wars’ and Other Tales of Hydromythology,” in McDonald and Jehl, 116-117.

put off to the final-status stage: Postel, Last Oasis, xxiv, xxv. By 2000 Israel was drawing half to three-quarters more water than envisioned by the original Johnston plan that the Arabs had rejected.

secretly meeting for years: Elhance, 107, 113. Jordan depended heavily on the water from the Yarmuk-Jordan since its only other major water source was the nonrenewable Qa Disi aquifer on its southeastern border with Saudi Arabia, which the Saudis were rapidly drawing down toward exhaustion at the prodigious rate of up to 250 million cubic meters per year.

Wazzani fed the Hasbani: Tensions were further heightened because Israel’s water reserves were at their lowest historical level at that moment.

international diplomatic flurry: “Israel Hardens Stance on Water,” BBC News, September 17, 2002,; Luft; Stefan Deconinck, “Jordan River Basin: The Wazzani-Incident in the Summer of 2002—a Phony War?” Waternet (July 2006),

very close to a breakthrough: Working through the offices of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was trusted by the Israelis and had developed good relations with Syria’s leadership, the two sides reportedly had worked out virtually all the major issues of a Golan water deal between them and were close to being ready to move the final negotiations up to the official level. But the opportunity was reportedly killed by the Bush administration, which refused to give the comfort sought by Syrian leaders that they could count on American support as Syria moved out of its orbit of relations with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Israel’s attack on Gaza over Hamas’s resumption of missile launches at Israel in late 2008 reinflamed discord, which scuttled any chance of an early settlement.

cut agricultural water consumption by nearly one-third: Allan, 96-97; Elhance, 96.

pay full market price: “Don’t Make the Desert Bloom,” Economist, June 7, 2008, 60. The actual water price farmers paid in 2008 was still only about half the market rate due to hidden subsidies, but the agreement signaled the direction of things.

agriculture’s share: Postel, “Sharing the River out of Eden,” 64.

microirrigation methods: Ibid., 43, 64.

quintupled their water productivity: Pearce, 300.

fall sharply—by as much as two-thirds: Ibid., 254; Economist staff, “Tapping the Oceans,” Economist Technology Quarterly, June 7, 2008, 27. The main improvements were in energy recapture and membrane technology.

Israel to launch five: From the 1970s Israel had been studying elaborate schemes to pipe water from the Mediterranean or Red sea to the Dead Sea, exploiting the decline in altitude to generate the great amount of electricity needed to power desalinization.

Ashqelon, opened in 2005: Ashqelon water costs were about 55 U.S. cents versus about 30 cents per cubic meter from Galilee.

by 2020 Israel expects: “Don’t Make the Desert Bloom,” 60; Postel, “Sharing the River out of Eden,” 64.

10 times the per capita supply of Israel: Sher, 36.

control the headwaters: Turkey’s inclusion in NATO was strongly influenced by its strategic control of the strait controlling access to the Mediterranean from the Black Sea. During the Cold War, it helped deny the Soviet Union’s navy easy access and influence in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, stretched Soviet supply lines in aiding distant allies like North Vietnam, and in general added to the burdens that helped lead to the Soviet Union’s collapse. The strait today remains a strategic choke point of key shipping lanes, including those for oil from the large new fields and pipelines of central Asia to the West.

upriver to Turkey: From the early 1970s to 2002, Turkey built some 700 dams and had plans to build 500 more. Douglas Jehl, “In Race to Tap the Euphrates, the Upper Hand Is Upstream,” New York Times, August 25, 2002.

double national irrigated cropland and electricity: Elhance, 148-149.

Ataturk reservoir: “One-third of Paradise,” Economist, February 26, 2005, 78.

“The twenty-first century will belong”: Turgut Ozal, quoted in Ward, 192.

cut Syria’s share of the Euphrates’ water: Ibid.

consume half again as much water as exists: Jehl, “In Race to Tap the Euphrates, the Upper Hand Is Upstream.” The Euphrates held about 35 billion cubic meters of water.

Turkey’s vision: Elhance, 150-151; Sher, 35-37. The first pipeline, which drew water from the little-used Seyhan and Ceyhan rivers, was expected to carry 1.28 billion cubic meters per year, and the second, drawing from the Tigris, 0.9 billion cubic meters annually.

409-410. Euphrates slowed to a trickle: Elhance, 144.

clandestine support: Allan, 73.

force Saddam to withdraw: Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 204.

Syria’s constriction of the Euphrates’ water: Elhance, 142-143. Syria slowed flows in the spring of 1974 to show its anger with Iraqi criticism of its policy toward Israel and again in 1975 after Iraq signed an accord with Iran. Saudi Arabian and Soviet diplomacy resolved the 1975 crisis by getting Syria to release additional water downstream from the Tabqa Dam. Ironically, the greatest danger from a catastrophic dam break in the region was probably in Sadaam’s own Iraq. The large Mosul dam on the Tigris near ancient Nineveh had been so poorly constructed in 1984 that by 2007 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was warning occupying American military commanders that it was in imminent danger of collapse—threatening to kill hundreds of thousands of people between Mosul and Baghdad and deliver a devastating setback to the American effort to build a stable, pluralistic state in post-Saddam Iraq. Patrick Cockburn, “Iraqi Dam Burst Would Drown 500,000,” Independent, October 31, 2007,’s-dam-burst-would-drown-500,000-398364.html.

restore only 40 percent of the marshes: Alwash, 56-58; “One-third of Paradise,” 77-78; Edward Wong, “Marshes a Vengeful Hussein Drained Stir Again,” New York Times, February 21, 2004; Marc Santora, “Marsh Arabs Cling to Memories of a Culture Nearly Crushed by Hussein,” New York Times, April 28, 2003. More water than Iraq had available was needed to flush out salts and other toxins to restore a larger area.

“We do not say we share their oil”: Süleyman Demirel, quoted in “The Euphrates Fracas: Damascus Woos (and) Warns Ankara,” Mideast Mirror, July 30, 1992, cited in Elhance, 144.

idled seven of 10 turbines: Whitaker.

“with more water than”: Recep Tayyip Erdogen, quoted in Sally Buzbee, “Drought Threatens Iraq’s Crops and Water Supply,” Associated Press wire on Yahoo!News, July 10, 2008, AP20080710.

control of Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam: Daniel Williams, “Kurds Seize Iraq Land Past Borders in Blow to U.S. Pullout Plan,” March 5, 2009, Bloomberg,

Palestinian and Israeli officials continued to meet: Postel, “Sharing the River out of Eden,” 64.

“When one man drinks”: Cited in Elhance, 122.

costs, however, were staggering: Craig A. Smith, “Saudis Worry as They Waste Their Scarce Water,” New York Times, January 26, 2003. Allan, 85.

exhausted about 60 percent: Pearce, 61.

slashed wheat production: Brown, “Aquifer Depletion.”

10-quart toilets: Smith, “Saudis Worry as They Waste Their Scarce Water.” See also Pearce, 61.

414-415. Arabian aquifer may be scraping bottom: Patrick E. Tyler, “Libya’s Vast Pipe Dream Taps into Desert’s Ice Age Water,” New York Times, March 2, 2004.

Yemen: Yemen, ancient home of the Sabaean kingdom and source of precious myrrh and frankincense, was in danger of becoming a failed state amok with religious jihadists, political insurgencies, and anarchic social conflicts over scarce freshwater that had left dozens dead in recent years. The groundwater tables supplying Yemen’s life-giving wells were plunging by six feet a year in the countryside and by 15 feet a year in its major cities; its capital, Sanaa, was expected by the World Bank to run dry by 2010, with no solution in sight. Meanwhile, Yemen’s 22 million mostly poor, restive citizens were expected to double within a generation—making the country a constant source of potential regional and international destabilization.

subway-sized tunnels buried six feet: Tyler, “Libya’s Vast Pipe Dream Taps into Desert’s Ice Age Water” McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 155. See also Pearce, 45-48. Like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Libya was an effectively waterless land with scant rainfall and no surface rivers or lakes that withdrew seven times more freshwater from groundwater sources than its total renewable supply.

largest known fossil water deposit: Earth’s biggest aquifers are the Sahara’s Nubian sandstone aquifer, with 50 billion acre-feet under Libya, Egypt, Chad, and Sudan; South America’s Guarani aquifer, with 40 billion acre-feet lying beneath 400,000 square miles of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay; the Ogallala, in the United States; and the North China Plain.

Occidental Petroleum magnate Armand Hammer: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 155.

pipeline blowouts: Tyler, “Libya’s Vast Pipe Dream Taps into Desert’s Ice Age Water.”

less than half of the food needs: Pearce, 45-48.

Chapter Sixteen: From Have to Have-Not: Mounting Water Distress in Asia’s Rising Giants

diminishing groundwater reserves for their irrigated agriculture: India, Pakistan, and China together accounted for 45 percent of global groundwater use; the other leading groundwater user was the United States, but only a small portion of its agriculture depended upon it.

“an era of severe water scarcity”: Quoted in Somini Sengupta, “In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul Sludge,” New York Times, September 29, 2006.

“survival of the Chinese nation”: Wen Jiabao, quoted in “Drying Up,” Economist, May 19, 2005, 46.

“Hindu rate of growth”: Das, 4.

Narmada River valley: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 161-162; Postel, Last Oasis, 55-56; Specter, 68.

the commission concluded: Pearce, 134-135; Katherine Kao Cushing, “The World Commission on Dams Report: What Next?” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2002-2003, 152.

421-422. “so that the specter of food shortages”: Manmohan Singh, quoted in Somini Sengupta, “In Fertile India, Growth Outstrips Agriculture,” New York Times, June 22, 2008. On Indian wheat farmers’ water use, see Economist, “Awash in Waste,” April 11, 2009.

store no more than a couple of months’ protection: World Bank.

small tube wells: Marcus Moench, “Groundwater: The Challenge of Monitoring and Management,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2004-2005, 88; Pearce, 36-37.

India relies on groundwater mining: Pakistan, however, relied more on groundwater as a percentage of its total water use.

being mined twice as fast: Brown, “The Effect of Emerging Water Shortages on the World’s Food,” in McDonald and Jehl, 82.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi: Peter H. Gleick and Jason Morrison, “Water Risks That Face Business and Industry,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 146; Saritha Rai, “Protests in India Deplore Soda Makers’ Water Use,” New York Times, May 21, 2003.

Indian government report: Sengupta, “In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul Sludge.” New Delhi had 5,600 miles of water pipes, which lost an estimated 25 percent to 40 percent to leaks.

poor are effectively subsidizing: Peet, 8; Specter, 63.

newly installed meters broke down: Gleick and Morrison, 148.

Ritu Praser: Sengupta, “In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul Sludge.”

India’s sanitation: Gleick and Morrison, 148.

surface and ground water supply is polluted: Meena Palaniappan, Emily Lee, and Andrea Samulon, “Environmental Justice and Water,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 128.

pesticide plant in Bhopal: Somini Sengupta, “Decades Later, Toxic Sludge Torments Bhopal,” New York Times, September 29, 2006.

Gangotri glacier: Emily Wax, “A Sacred River Endangered by Global Warming,” Washington Post, June 17, 2007; “Melting Asia,” Economist, June 7, 2008, 29. Similarly, the Kashmir valley’s sole year-round water source, the Kolahoi glacier, had shrunk by half a mile in the twenty years since 1985. “How Green Was My Valley?” Economist, October 23, 2008. On a positive note, in early 2009 India broke its domestic political logjam and agreed to move forward cooperatively on the Ganges with Nepal, the mountainous upriver state where half its waters originated but which itself had only one-twentieth of the basin’s population.

round of informal dialogues: The diplomatically quiet Abu Dhabi Dialogue, under World Bank auspices, brought together the often-rival neighbors for three meetings between 2006 and mid-2008.

one-third fall in agricultural output: Economist, “Melting Asia,” 29.

Indus is not a giant river: McNeill, Something New Under the Sun, 159.

Indus is badly overdrawn: Erik Eckholm, “A River Diverted, the Sea Rushes In,” New York Times, April 22, 2003.

scant thirty days’ capacity: World Bank.

Punjabi cropland: Moench, 88. Today, groundwater pumping is an indispensable source of the country’s heavily irrigation-dependent agriculture; indeed, on a per person basis, no major nation in the world outside the Middle East was more addicted to its depleting groundwater for its survival.

Sindhis are bitterly complaining: Eckholm, “River Diverted, the Sea Rushes In” Erik Eckholm, “A Province Is Dying of Thirst, and Cries Robbery,” New York Times, March 17, 2003.

residents routinely boil: Michael Wines, “For a Sickening Encounter, Just Turn On the Tap,” New York Times, October 31, 2002.

overran the pivotal Buner district: Pakistan’s semiautonomous mountainous northwestern Pashtun-tribe-dominated provinces were already host to the Muslim fundamentalist extremists like Afghanistan’s Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. Their breakout into Pakistan proper posed perilous potential repercussions for India and the world. Carlotta Gall and Eric Schmidt, “U.S. Questions Pakistan’s Will to Stop Taliban,” New York Times,April 24, 2009.

brink of war: Postel, Last Oasis, 85; Elhance, 167, 174-175.

shortfall will be equal to its total usage: John Pomfret, “A Long Wait at the Gate to Greatness,” Washington Post, July 27, 2008.

430-431. peaked out in the late 1990s: Brown, “Aquifer Depletion.” On famine numbers, see Mirsky, 39.

meat consumption increased two and a half times: “Sin Aqua Non,” Economist, April 11, 2009.

projects on the Yellow River: Ma, China’s Water Crisis, ix, 39. The large-scale waterworks were common to both the Communists and their Nationalist predecessors. In 1934 the Nationalist government had dredged and almost entirely rebuilt the span of the Grand Canal between the Yangtze and the Huai rivers and installed ship locks for medium-sized steamers. Between 1958 and 1964, Mao’s Communist government did even more extensive work so it could handle larger ships.

water use quintupled: Jim Yardley, “Under China’s Booming North, the Future Is Drying Up,” New York Times, September 28, 2007.

If the human costs seemed high: “China’s Growing Pains,” Economist, August 21, 2004, 11. See also Jim Yardley, “At China’s Dams, Problems Rise with Water,” New York Times, November 9, 2007. In the quarter century after 1978, per capita living standards rose about sevenfold; some 400 million were lifted out of poverty and a huge middle class was born. The 23 million dislocations come from Premier Wen’s 2007 work report to the National People’s Congress; Palaniappan, Lee, and Samulon, 134, cite the critics’ estimates of 40 to 60 million displacements.

staircase of dams and 46 hydroelectric power plants: Ma, 8-11, 39.

“When the Yellow River is at peace”: Quoted in Gifford, 105.

shadow of its intended magnificence: Ma, 10.

dry area grew steadily: Ibid., 11, 12.

river would be rationed: Pearce, 108, 112.

have to drill three times deeper: Yardley, “Under China’s Booming North, the Future Is Drying Up.”

reservoir was declared unfit for drinking: Marq De Villiers, “Three Rivers,” in McDonald and Jehl, 47.

capital will eventually have to move: Ma, 136.

bottom will be hit around 2035: Yardley, “Under China’s Booming North, the Future Is Drying Up” Ma, viii. The northern plain originally had 60 billion cubic meters of nonrenewable groundwater. Reliance on groundwater was increasing across China as a whole, reaching one-fifth of the nation’s water supply.

Half the lakes: Pearce, 109.

potential new cropland was destroyed: Diamond, Collapse, 364, 365. Erosion pauperized the soil for agriculture, clogged irrigation canals and navigable river channels, and increased the risks of major flooding. Some one-fifth of all China’s land, north and south, suffered major soil erosion.

Genghis Khan’s memorial tomb: De Villiers, 49; Ma, 31.

replanting a “green wall” of trees: Diamond, Collapse, 368, 369. In the 2,000 years leading up to 1950, major dusters occurred on average every thirty-one years. From 1950 to 1990, they hit once every two years; from 1990, they struck almost every year. A big one in May 1993 killed a hundred people. The green wall project was budgeted at $6 billion.

dust mixes with thick clouds of sooty, polluted air: Jim Yardley, “China’s Path to Modernity, Mirrored in a Troubled River,” New York Times, November 19, 2006.

desiccation of northern China: Ma, 19. The headwaters of the Yellow had dried up, and had reduced water flows, just like the lower reaches from the mid- to late 1980s.

436-437. “Swimming”: Mao Zedong (1956), quoted in Ma, 57.

hydropower megabases: China has exploited only about one-fourth of its hydropower potential.

“hidden dangers”: Wang Xiaofeng, speaking at the September 25 forum at Wuhan, composite quotes cited in Lin Yang, “China’s Three Gorges Dam under Fire,” Time, October 12, 2007,,8599,1671000,00.html; Yardley, “At China’s Dams, Problems Rise with Water” Jane Macartney, “Three Gorges Dam Is a Disaster in the Making, China Admits,” Times (London), September 27, 2007,

3 to 4 million people would have to be relocated: Howard W. French, “Dam Project to Displace Millions More in China,” New York Times, October 2, 2007.

water in the Zipingpu reservoir: Sharon LaFraniere, “Scientists Point to Possible Link between Dam and China Quake,” New York Times, February 6, 2009.

dogged private environmental whistle-blower: Joseph Kahn, “In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself,” New York Times, October 14, 2007.

promised to restore China’s major lakes: Keith Bradsher, “China Offers Plan to Clean Up Its Polluted Lakes,” New York Times, January 23, 2008.

unfit for human consumption: Data from 2005 Chinese Ministry of Water Resources, cited in Gleick and Morrison, 147.

one-fifth of wastewater is treated: Diamond, Collapse, 364.

curtailed for want of adequate river volumes: “Drying Up,” Economist, May 19, 2005. In the northwest, some factories were permanently closed due to water shortages.

reliance on groundwater has doubled: Yardley, “Under China’s Booming North, the Future Is Drying Up.”

one-third of its land is severely degraded: De Villiers, 48.

Chinese official requests to excise: “Don’t Drink the Water and Don’t Breathe Air,” Economist, January 24, 2008. In 2006 China had recorded 60,000 pollution-related domestic disturbances.

Hu’s Green GDP report: Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley, “As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes,” New York Times, August 26, 2007.

cost of environmental loss: Economist staff, “A Ravenous Dragon: Special report on China’s quest for resources,” Economist, March 5, 2007, 18; David Barboza, “China Reportedly Urged Omitting Pollution-Death Estimates,” New York Times, July 5, 2007.

uses three to 10 times more water: Yardley, “Under China’s Booming North, the Future Is Drying Up.”

consume 42 times more water: Diamond, Collapse, 362.

immense dams on the upper basins of the Mekong and the Salween: Jim Yardley, “Seeking a Public Voice on China’s ‘Angry River,’” New York Times, December 26, 2005; Seth Mydans, “Where a Lake Is Life Itself, Dam Is a Dire Word,” New York Times, April 28, 2003; Ma, x. The plans included 13 dams on the heretofore undammed Nu River—called the Salween in Myanmar—including one of the world’s biggest that would produce more hydroelectricity than Three Gorges. The dams on the Mekong and its tributaries would threaten the unusually powerful, oscillating flow of Tonle Sap—causing the tidal lake’s size to expand and contract fourfold—which was vital to Cambodia’s livelihood, as well as the volume and quality of the river reaching Vietnam.

1997 U.N. Watercourses Convention: Turkey and Burundi, both upriver riparians, were the other two treaty rejecters. Many other countries abstained and the treaty was never ratified. However, it became part of the growing body of customary principles governing international water issues. Its two main principles, evolved over three decades, were that all riparians were entitled to equitable utilization of the watercourse’s resources and that countries would not behave in ways that significantly harmed other river states. A third, less-well-established principle held that countries would not act in any way that foreclosed another riparian’s future use of the river’s resources—a placeholder principle aimed at protecting late-developing, poor countries against overexploitation by early users.

“Southern China has too much water”: Mao Zedong, quoted in Ma, 143.

eastern and central routes began: Erik Eckholm, “Chinese Will Move Waters to Quench Thirst of Cities,” New York Times, August 27, 2002; Ma, 136-137, 143-144; Kathy Chen, “China Approves Large Project to Divert Water to Dry North,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2002.

travel by tunnel under the Yellow River: Pearce, 219-221.

The diversion project: David Lague, “On an Ancient Canal, Grunge Gives Way to Grandeur,” New York Times, July 24, 2007; Eckholm, “Chinese Will Move Waters to Quench Thirst of Cities.” By 2007 progress was being made—some of the stench had cleared, small fish life had returned, and urban renewal was visible along rehabilitated stretches—but many experts remained incredulous that it could be restored to an environmentally healthy state.

Pumping water across the mountains: Eckholm, “Chinese Will Move Waters to Quench Thirst of Cities” Ma, 144.

fall as much as a third below its farming needs: Economist, “Ravenous Dragon,” 18.

Chapter Seventeen: Opportunity from Scarcity: The New Politics of Water in the Industrial Democracies

each North American uses: Economist, “Sin Aqua Non,” April 11, 2009.

three centuries of increasing twice as fast: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 107.

American water withdrawals peaked in 1980: U.S. Geological Survey, “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000.”

U.S. water productivity: Gary H. Wolff and Peter H. Gleick, “The Soft Path for Water,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2002-2003, 19. All figures are in constant 1996 dollars.

Japan’s economic productivity per unit of water: Specter, 70. Japan’s water use per $1 million of water fell from 50 to 13 million liters between 1965 and 1989.

soft-path efficiency approach: The soft path concept was originally proposed by the influential Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute in the mid-1970s in response to the oil crisis. He argued that the West’s chief response should be to reduce energy demand through greater efficiency, thereby lowering supply needs and breaking the long-standing correlation between growth and the absolute level of energy consumption. The soft path to water, based on similar reasoning, was elaborated by Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, with acknowledgment of his intellectual debt to Lovins.

10 agricultural workers or 100,000 high-tech jobs: Gleick, “Making Every Drop Count,” 45.

profligate farming practices: Peter H. Gleick, cited in Timothy Egan, “Near Vast Bodies of Water, the Land Still Thirsts,” New York Times, August 12, 2001; “Pipe Dreams,” Economist, January 9, 2003; Douglas Jehl, “Thirsty Cities of Southern California Covet the Full Glass Held by Farmers,” New York Times, September 24, 2002.

Bass brothers: Charles McCoy and G. Pascal Zachary, “A Bass Play in Water May Presage Big Shift in Its Distribution,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 1997; “Flowing Gold,” Economist, October 10, 1998; Brian Alexander, “Between Two West Coast Cities, a Duel to the Last Drop,” New York Times, December 8, 1998.

internecine battles: The first battle was with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which controlled almost all of San Diego’s access to water and didn’t want to lose its largest client.

ecosystem health of the Salton Sea: Kelly, n.p.

Imperial Valley lost: Dean E. Murphy, “In a First, U.S. Officials Put Limits on California’s Thirst,” New York Times, January 5, 2003. Los Angeles’s water authority also lost water; California was forced to draw more from its reservoirs to make up the critical shortfalls.

30 million acre-feet: San Diego County Water Authority, Water Mangement, “Quantification Settlement Agreement,” See also Imperial Irrigation District, “News Archive 2003,” November 10, 2003,

“They should pay $800”: Mike Morgan, quoted in Kelly.

large geothermal field: “Something Smells a Bit Fishy,” Economist, April 10, 2008. One caveat to exploiting the geothermal field was that existing environmental preservation plans for the Salton Sea had to be modified so its geothermal corner could be drained and exploited.

desalinization plants in California in exchange for an extra draw: Gertner.

Las Vegas: Las Vegas was also pursuing traditional hard infrastructure, such as controversial multibillion-dollar long-distance pipelines to carry groundwater pumped from land purchased in east-central Nevada, and building a new, deeper intake valve in Lake Mead.

$500 an acre-foot: “Dust to Dust,” Economist, March 7, 2009, 39.

court rulings and federal restoration: Under the groundbreaking federal Central Valley Project Improvement Act (1992), wildlife and ecosystem uses were given equal priority with long-favored irrigation; many farmers’ water rates had increased tenfold in the 1990s as a result.

Orange County, California: Randal C. Archibold, “From Sewage, Added Water for Drinking,” New York Times, November 27, 2007.

Desal costs in California had fallen: Peter H. Gleick, Heather Cooley, and Gary H. Wolff, “With a Grain of Salt: An Update on Seawater Desalinization,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 68. Coastal Florida, where groundwater supplies were badly overdrawn and plentiful brackish estuaries provided low-salt-content water that was cheaper to purify to drinking quality levels, and ever-thirsty California had long been America’s leading laboratories for desalinization experiments. Texas was also another leading player.

7 percent of the entire state’s urban water use: Ibid., 65. That figure is based on usage in 2000. On the San Diego plant, see Felicity Barringer, “In California, Desalinization of Seawater as a Test Case,” New York Times, May 15, 2009.

“If we could ever competitively”: John F. Kennedy, quoted in Economist staff, Economist Technology Quarterly, 24.

Projections of market growth: Peter H. Gleick and Jason Morrison, “Water Risks That Face Business and Industry,” in Gleick, World’s Water, 2006-2007, 161.

New York City’s water network: Galusha, 265.

reservoirs were chronically choked: Andrew C. Revkin, “A Billion-Dollar Plan to Clean the City’s Water at Its Source,” New York Times, August 31, 1997.

1,500-page, three-volume agreement: Galusha, 258-259.

New York City would spend $260 million: Winnie Hu, “To Protect Water Supply, City Acts as a Land Baron,” New York Times, August 9, 2004; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, “Watershed Protection Programs,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Some $200 million was allocated for upgrading treatment plants.

$70 million for sundry infrastructure repairs: About $200 million in improvements to treatment of wastewater entering the reservoirs from sewage plants was also approved.

complicated land swap: “A Watershed Agreement,” editorial, New York Times, September 10, 2007.

Water to the Everglades: Damien Cave, “Everglades Deal Shrinks to Sale of Land, Not Assets,” New York Times, November 12, 2008.

city would not need any additional water supply: Galusha, 229.

last inspection in 1958: Andrew C. Revkin, “What’s That Swimming in the Water Supply? Robot Sub Inspects 45 Miles of a Leaky New York Aqueduct,” New York Times, June 7, 2003.

team of deep-sea repair divers: New York City Department of Environmental Protection, “Preparation Underway to Fix Leak in Delaware Aqueduct,” press release, August 4, 2008. The high-pressure diving operation was not New York’s first underwater repair experience. During a weeklong exercise in December 2000, a team of divers was lowered by crane inside a diving bell into another portion of aqueduct and worked to seal off a coin-sized hole in an old bronze valve from which water was spewing at 80 miles per hour. The great nightmare of engineers would be a tunnel leak under the Hudson River, which would be very hard and perilous for divers to get to and repair.

“Look, if one of those tunnels goes”: James Ryan, quoted in Grann, 91, 96, 102.

took a seat at the mole’s controls: Sewell Chan, “Tunnelers Hit Something Big: A Milestone,” New York Times, August 10, 2006. The mole had been used in drilling the innovative Channel Tunnel linking England and France.

one of New York’s most critical infrastructures: Grann, 97.

America’s 700,000 miles of aging water pipes: Lavelle and Kurlantzick, 24.

Global water infrastructure needs: Pearce, 304.

T. Boone Pickens: In Pickens’s case, the 250-mile pipeline from the Panhandle to Dallas was being developed imaginatively in conjunction with electrical power generated by the world’s largest wind farm.

five giant global food and beverage corporations: J. P. Morgan calculated the amount to be 575 billion liters per year; cited in “Running Dry,” Economist, August 23, 2008, 53.

water needed to produce one kilowatt-hour had plunged: U.S. Geological Survey, “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000.”

modern mills using only six tons: Gleick, “Making Every Drop Count,” 44.

Perrier Vittel: “Are You Being Served?” Economist, April 23, 2005, 77.

water-conscious companies: Among those reporting corporate water use and setting future targets were Intel, IBM, and Sony in high tech/electronics, pharmaceutical/biotech producer Abbott, Nippon Steel, automotive giants Volkswagen, Toyota, and General Motors, forestry products maker Kimberly-Clark, and food and beverage companies Unilever, Nestlé, and Coca-Cola. Gleick and Morrison, 154-155.

Brazilian tomato farmers: Ibid., 149.

Anheuser-Busch: Among the companies engaging their supply chains were Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Unilever, Nestlé, Gap, Johnson & Johnson, and oil refiner Chevron. Coca-Cola experienced a bitter foretaste of water’s potential political risk when it was accused of abusing scarce groundwater resources in India. Although Coke was later exonerated in court, the negative publicity posed a reputational threat to its priceless brand name, as well as harming local market sales. To publicize its green commitment to treating all its wastewater by 2010, Coke began putting schools of fish in tanks filled with treated wastewater at its bottling plants across the world.

by one-quarter roughly doubled: Wolff and Gleick, “Soft Path for Water,” 19. The calculation is based on 80 percent agricultural water use in the area.

to sprinklers and microirrigation systems: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, irrigated acreage under sprinklers or microirrigation rose from 40 percent in 1985 to 52 percent in 2000. McGuire, “Water-Level Changes in the High Plains Aquifer, Predevelopment to 2002, 1980 to 2002, and 2001 to 2002.”

American farm pollution: Europe’s farm pollution regulations were more muscular.

biological dead zone without fish life: Bina Venkataraman, “Rapid Growth Found in Oxygen-Starved Ocean ‘Dead Zones,’” New York Times, August 15, 2008.

Australia faces the industrialized world’s: Diamond, Collapse, 379-380, 384, 387, 409.

southeastern Murray-Darling: “The Big Dry,” Economist, April 28, 2007, 81.

facilitate independent water trading: Peet, 13-14.

“transpiration credits”: “Are You Being Served?” Prices adjusted to higher-volume use and seasonal availability, and including wastewater treatment in calculating water’s final price, lay ahead.

decline in the Murray’s flow: “Big Dry,” 84.

Australia’s agricultural land: Diamond, Collapse, 413.

Bush administration’s Environmental Protection Agency: “Clearer Rules, Cleaner Waters,” editorial, New York Times, August 18, 2008.

inextricably interdependent: Elizabeth Rosenthal, “Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat,” New York Times, February 8, 2008.

20 percent of all California’s electricity: Wilshire, Nielson, and Hazlett, 252. Data is from a 2005 California Energy Commission report. See also Meena Palaniappan, Emily Lee, and Andrea Samulon, “Environmental Justice and Water,” in Gleick, World’s Water: 2006-2007, 151.

northeastern U.S. power failure: Jane Campbell, interview with author, March 17, 2008.

Italy’s severe drought in 2003: “Emergency Threat in Dry Italy,” BBC News, July 14, 2003,; “The Parched Country,” Economist, October 26, 2007.

carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: Kolbert, 201-203. In 2007, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that with almost total certainty planetary warming was man-made. Andrew Revkin, “On Climate Issue, Industry Ignored Its Scientists,” New York Times, April 24, 2009.

Dutch have begun to pioneer: Smith, Man and Water, 28-33; Kolbert, 123-127.

reduce California’s total municipal water consumption: Wilshire, Nielson, and Hazlett, 252.

potential choke points: Simply trying to keep bands of Somali pirates from hijacking vessels off the lawless Horn of Africa enlisted the navies of more than a dozen nations—including China, India, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Turkey, England, France, and the United States—in 2008, without notable success.

world’s abject water poor: United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation, 13, 17.

U.N. Millennium Development Goals: A more ambitious target of providing every person with access to safe, clean water and sanitation by 1990 had failed to be achieved as part of the U.N.’s International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-1990; the new downscaled targets were set to coincide with the conclusion of the U.N.’s new, aspirational International Decade for Action “Water for Life” (2005-2015).

Camdessus report: Nicholas L. Cain, “3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto Disappointment and Possibility,” in Gleick, World’s Water 2004-2005, 189-196.


not enough planetary environmental resources: Diamond, Collapse, 487-494, 495. Diamond estimates that the average Westerner consumes 32 times more resources than low-impact third world citizens and that the per capita effect of everyone attaining a high environmental-impact lifestyle would increase world resource consumption twelvefold—an unsustainable environmental burden on planetary resources based on today’s technologies and practices. Water strongly influenced almost every one of the 12 great problems Diamond concludes have to be solved for twenty-first-century civilization to adjust without great trauma. These include deforestation, collapse of fisheries, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, energy shortages, freshwater depletion, photosynthetic capacity, toxic chemical pollution, invasions by alien species, climate change, sheer population levels, higher impact levels of consumption, and waste by several billion more people.