From Publishers Weekly
No tangible substance means more to us than water, and in this scientific history, astrophysicist Kandel traces not only the cycles of water molecules on Earth, but their voyages through time and space as well. Since water is made up of hydrogen and oxygenvery old elements, cosmologically speakingKandel applies a Michener-like thoroughness to his subject in the first section of his book. Starting with the Big Bang, he methodically works his way along toward the origin of life. "No water, no life," he states succinctly, showing how crucial water is to the biochemical development of organisms. The second part of the book, dedicated to "Water in Today's World," covers weather, tides and currents, and the familiar rain-river-sea-cloud cycle that children learn in school. Kandel works to make the hard science exciting, but he really shines in the last third of the book, which is devoted to "hydropolitics." Water "could be the biggest problem of the 21st century," he writes, and he offers numerous examples (e.g., water conflict and management between Israel and its neighbors) to prove his point. Judging by the vulnerability of agrarian societies and the struggles of cities trying to support their growing populations, humans around the globe are having trouble finding, keeping and recycling water. While dense with facts and figures, Kandel's aquatic history is riveting, an exhaustive and complex examination of our most precious chemical compound. "Have a drink of water," says Kandel. You're sipping "the history of the Earth and of the universe." 21 illustrations.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Simply put, "No water, no life." But how is our supply of freshwater maintained? Scientist Kandel explains the earth's elaborate and essential-to-life water cycle in a suitably fluid and mesmerizing narrative, beginning cosmologically with the birth of the solar system and an analysis of various theories as to where the earth's water, weighing in at "over a billion billion tons," originated. Kandel traces the balance of salt water and freshwater to ice and snow over the course of the earth's volatile geological history, pausing to consider past mass extinctions and our current precipitous loss of life-forms. He then cogently explains the awesome, truly beautiful dynamics of the tides, deep-water ocean currents, and every phase of the water cycle, which maintains the crucial balance between evaporation and condensation. "Life on the land depends on water from the sky," Kandel reminds readers, as he assiduously catalogs every threat to our precious water supply, from pollution to climate change to deforestation to unwise water management to the tricky convolutions of "hydropolitics." The more we understand about the water cycle, the better our chances of ensuring its continuance. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved