17 Oct 2009

Aqua Shock -- The Review

Two months ago, I read the galley proofs of Susan Marks's Aqua Shock [Amazon].

[I redacted this review back then at the request of the publisher. This review is based on the proofs, but I have no reason to think the published ms. is any different...]

The book was a disappointment. It was more of a series of notes and facts (some inaccurate) pulled from a reporter's notebook than a book that gave analysis and context in a narrative that flowed from here to there.

Even worse is the weak or missing discussion of prices and markets in the final chapter ("Can Water Be Saved?").

This book reminded me of Unquenchable, which did a better job of wrangling factoids and stories but still failed to provide strong analysis or answers.* Is this a virtue? No. We know plenty of facts about the water "crisis." What we need is good analysis of how we got here and where we are going.*

In this interview [mp3] with Tom Keene, Marks expresses an "objectivity" that frustrated me. She says that climate change "has just as many scientists on one side as the other" and says -- in spite of encouragement from Keene -- that water prices are not as important as people "paying attention to water." WTF does that mean?

Bottom Line: I give Aqua Shock one star. Spend your time elsewhere.
* I guess I still have to write my book :)

Addendum: Glennon pointed out that this comment is unfair, and he's right. In my review of his book I did notice (and praise) his good ideas and analysis.