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Rivers of Eden : the struggle for water and the quest for peace in the Middle East

Author: Daniel Hillel
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1994.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
After decades of strife, the Middle East now seems to be moving toward peace. But prospects for a settlement stand on shakier ground than many observers realize, says scientist Daniel Hillel. What they tend to overlook is that the severely wounded environment of the region threatens the future stability of any political accord. Widespread destruction of vegetation and natural habitats, erosion of uplands,  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Daniel Hillel
ISBN: 0195080688 9780195080681
OCLC Number: 30545854
Description: x, 355 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Contents: 1. An Overview: A transregional journey, and a realization --
2. Waters of Life: The planet's, and the region's, most precious fluid --
3. Ancient Civilizations: The rise and demise of societies in an arid environment --
4. Modern States: How the contemporary map of the region was drawn --
5. The Twin Rivers: New rivalries over the ancient waters of Babylon --
6. The Mighty Nile: The mother river and her many thirsty children --
7. The River Jordan: Dividing the earth's most storied river --
8. The Flowing Streams of Lebanon: Disputed waters in a fractious state --
9. Fountains of the Deep: Tapping the underground pools, rechargeable or fossil --
10. The River of Waste: An unrealized resource: conservation, efficiency, reuse --
11. Augmenting Supplies: Inducing rain and runoff, trading waters, desalinization --
12. Criteria for Sharing International Waters: Ethical, legal, and pragmatic considerations --
13. Water for Peace: Calming turbulent waters.
Responsibility: Daniel Hillel.
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Abstract:

After decades of strife, the Middle East now seems to be moving toward peace. But prospects for a settlement stand on shakier ground than many observers realize, says scientist Daniel Hillel. What they tend to overlook is that the severely wounded environment of the region threatens the future stability of any political accord. Widespread destruction of vegetation and natural habitats, erosion of uplands, desertification of semiarid areas, waterlogging and salinization of valleys, and, most of all, depletion and pollution of precious water resources - no diplomatic formula will ensure lasting peace in the Middle East, argues Hillel, unless it redresses these ills. In Rivers of Eden, Hillel examines this environmental crisis and explores its crucial role in the political and economic future of this particularly sensitive and troubled region. He shows how ecological degradation, exacerbated by an uncontrolled explosion of population and a potential warming and drying of climate, is itself a cause of instability in the area, dislocating and disorienting countless people and fomenting despair and extremism. And yet, he adds, since no country in the region can solve its water problem alone, the very cause of conflict is also an inducement for promoting peace. This hope illuminates Rivers of Eden as it traces the vital issue of water in the Middle East, ranging from its first appearance in antiquity and its manifestations in folklore and religion to the present. As Hillel convincingly shows, the history of civilization in the Fertile Crescent is fundamentally the story of how societies in this semiarid environment managed or mismanaged their land and water resources. Here we see how this history plays out from intertribal rivalry (for instance, the legendary "War of Basoos," begun over the errant trespass of a thirsty camel) to the inexorable, salt-poisoned death of Mesopotamia, and finally to the choking of the Nile at Aswan. From the historical and ecological circumstances, Hillel turns to the rivalries brewing even now over the large and small rivers and groundwater aquifers of the region. Indeed, the Middle East is now poised on a fateful watershed divide between a dangerous casus belli and a promising casus pacis. The future welfare of the Middle East, as of many economies in the arid and semiarid regions of the world, depends on timely action to resolve these issues. Rivers of Eden offers hope for such a resolution and points the way toward its accomplishment through peace and regional cooperation. Only thus can the Middle East be restored to the Eden and center of culture that it once was and can become again.

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