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The Three Ages of Water: Prehistoric Past, Imperiled Present, and a Hope for the Future

by Peter Gleick
A revelatory account of how water has shaped the course of human life and history, and a positive vision of what the future can hold—if we act now
From the very creation of the planet billions of years ago to the present day, water has always been central to existence on Earth. And since long before the legendary Great Flood, it has been a defining force in the story of humanity.

The Three Ages of Water, Peter Gleick guides us through the long, fraught history of our relationship to this precious resource. Water has shaped civilizations and empires, and driven centuries of advances in science and technology—from agriculture to aqueducts, steam power to space exploration—and progress in health and medicine.
But the achievements that have propelled humanity forward also brought consequences, including unsustainable water use, ecological destruction, and global climate change, that now threaten to send us into a new dark age. We must change our ways, and quickly, to usher in a new age of water for the benefit of everyone. Drawing from the lessons of our past, Gleick charts a visionary path toward a sustainable future for water and the planet.
in Nature + Our Planet
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Published June 2023


Hardcover, 368 pages

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“Water made us, Peter Gleick writes in his magisterial history and future of hydrology and the human planet. But what will we do to it, and what will we make of it now? What we think of as the Anthropocene, and worry over as the coming of global warming, is in many mind-bending and demanding ways a crisis of water—though a soluble one. And there is no better guide to that crisis, or its solutions, than Gleick.”―David Wallace-Wells, journalist and author of The Uninhabitable Earth