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Rivers of Eden: the Struggle for Water and the Quest for Peace in the Middle East

by Hillel, Daniel

  • ISBN: 9780195080681
  • ISBN10: 0195080688

Rivers of Eden: the Struggle for Water and the Quest for Peace in the Middle East

by Hillel, Daniel

  • List Price: $49.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publish date: 01/01/2003
  • ISBN: 9780195080681
  • ISBN10: 0195080688
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Description: 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 thishistory 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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