Date of this Version
A renowned expert in global agricultural and environmental issues, Shiva has produced another volume, this time on the perils of privatization and pollution of water resources. Covering water's significance, from its practical necessity to its spiritual essence, Shiva sets out to justify the premise that "The water crisis is the most pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological devastation of the earth." Though the topic is timely and poignant, the presentation is more that of a collection of research notes than a fully formed essay. The organization is not straightforward either chronologically or in terms of subject matter. The book also contains numerous unsubstantiated pronouncements. One example, on page 66: "I was personally involved in assessing the impact of World Bank-financed dams on [several Indian] Rivers. In each case, the ecological and social costs far surpassed the benefits. Typically, the benefits were grossly exaggerated in order to accommodate the World Bank's logic of returns on investment." I would have liked specifics about how the benefits were grossly exaggerated so that I could knowledgeably agree or disagree. Another shortcoming is that 20 percent of the citations are to the author's own works. Some of those refer to paragraphs containing primarily hard statistics such as those regarding acres of land submerged by dam projects, annual rainfall amounts, and earnings projections for Monsanto. Citations to primary sources would have bolstered the scholarship considerably. Shiva's latest work covers a worthy topic, but it is best considered only as a companion volume to others in which the scholarship is more rigorous and the organization more direct.