Cover image for Every drop for sale : our desperate battle over water in a world about to run out
Every drop for sale : our desperate battle over water in a world about to run out
Rothfeder, Jeffrey, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, [2001]

Physical Description:
ix, 205 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD1691 .R67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HD1691 .R67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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As oil was the crisis of the twentieth century, water is the crisis of the twenty-first. Less than .0008 percent of the total water on Earth is fit for human consumption, but global consumption of fresh water is doubling every twenty years. Water has become perhaps our most precious commodity -- a life-sustaining but increasingly rare and privatized resource. A dramatic gap exists between those who have adequate water for survival and those who don't, and tensions over water in some areas of the world hover just below open war.

From Europe to Asia to Africa to America, award-winning journalist Jeffrey Rothfeder has visited the world's hot spots with the least amount of water, and also places where there is so much of it that plans are in the works to sell the excess to the highest bidder. In this compelling narrative account of our world in turmoil over water, he describes the issues and struggles of the people on all sides of the water crisis: from the scarred survivors of bizarre water-management practices, to those who are willing to die for water to sustain their families and crops, to the scientists and leaders who are trying to set things straight.

Important, provocative, and immensely readable, Every Drop for Sale explores a fascinating critical dilemma: as we run out of it, is water a fundamental right of everybody on Earth or just a human need that can be bought and sold like any other commodity? Index. Bibliography.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Rothfeder, a former Business Week and Bloomberg News editor who wrote The People vs. Big Tobacco (1998), argues that water, not oil, is the fluid whose scarcity will dominate the twenty-first century. Academics and even former senator Paul Simon have tried to bring this subject to the public's attention; Rothfeder's more lively, journalistic approach may finally give this issue the visibility it needs. Population growth and overuse in the developed world are obviously important parts of the world's water problem. But Rothfeder stresses that the major problem is the recent commodification of water, making safe, clean water not a human right but a need that may be met in the future only for those who can pay for it. Rothfeder reports from the front lines, including the "war" between the residents of Cochabamba, Brazil, and a Bechtel subsidiary, which bought the city's antiquated water system. Such "privatization" is on the rise around the world: one of the unanticipated consequences of globalization. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Turning on the kitchen faucet for a glass of clear, cool water, a privilege for astonishingly few people in the world, is soon to vanish for all but the very wealthy or the quite privileged: that's the core message of investigative journalist Rothfeder's sobering report on the future of a substance essential to life. In his thorough overview of the future of freshwater resources, Rothfeder (The People vs. Big Tobacco) opines that water is fated to become a commodity, bought up by multinationals and sold to those who can afford it. The case he makes is relentless, from damning dams in Egypt, China and the U.S., to the dry prospects for Atlanta and Los Angeles, where inexorable population growth has far outpaced water supplies; from the likelihood of Middle East water wars to a desperate scramble to perfect desalinization technology. Like the drip of water on stone, Rothfeder's steady exposition of horrors will wear down any reader's doubts that water is the next flashpoint of global politics, human rights and health issues. Unfortunately, his eye-opening accumulation of facts is undercut by his dry style. This book lacks the graceful prose of Canadian journalist Marq de Villiers earlier book on the same topic (Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource, 2000), but makes up for that with its solid, scary reporting. (Oct.) Forecast: With plenty of water news on tap recently, from E. coli-based deaths just last year in smalltown Ontario to former Sen. Paul Simon's August prediction of trouble to come because of water shortages in the Middle East, prospects are good for intensive review and interview coverage for Rothfeder's timely book. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Like Marq de Villiers's Water (LJ 7/00), this highly readable book by an award-winning journalist (Privacy for Sale) describes with startling statistics the projected major shortage of fresh water in the 21st century. Rothfeder's account, while international in scope, offers more examples drawn from North America, whereas de Villiers devotes only one chapter to Canadian and U.S. water issues. Rothfeder also raises numerous ethical issues, e.g., whether drinking water is a human right or a commodity that can be bought and sold. Although both authors discuss the transportation of fresh water by sea, Rothfeder describes the latest technologies and export practices in more detail. De Villiers's book, winner of the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction and an LJ Best Book, is the more comprehensive, scholarly, and better written of the two. However, Rothfeder presents new evidence for the looming world water crisis not covered by de Villiers and evaluates solutions proposed and implemented in Florida, Texas, and Washington, as well as abroad. If academic and public libraries have the funds, they should have both titles. Margaret Aycock, Gulf Coast Environmental Lib., Beaumont, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.