Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

The Price of Thirst

Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos

By Karen Piper
15-minute read
The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos by Karen Piper

In The Price of Thirst (2014), author Karen Piper reveals how private water companies have not only failed to offer universal access to clean water but also contributed to environmental degradation and political conflict amid a quest for profit.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Eye-opening. Before reading this I did not know that water sources can be owned by private companies and sold at a profit. I read these blinks while researching an article on the Cape Town water crisis and it offered a complementary explanation as to why large parts of the population do not have adequate access to potable water.”

– Therese, Video Producer at Blinkist

  • Environmentalists concerned with global concerns over water
  • Political scientists studying water rights issues
  • Anyone interested in the environment and climate change

Karen Piper is a professor of literature and environmental studies at the University of Missouri. She is also the author of Cartographic Fictions: Maps, Race and Identity and Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

The Price of Thirst

Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos

By Karen Piper
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos by Karen Piper
Synopsis

In The Price of Thirst (2014), author Karen Piper reveals how private water companies have not only failed to offer universal access to clean water but also contributed to environmental degradation and political conflict amid a quest for profit.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Eye-opening. Before reading this I did not know that water sources can be owned by private companies and sold at a profit. I read these blinks while researching an article on the Cape Town water crisis and it offered a complementary explanation as to why large parts of the population do not have adequate access to potable water.”

– Therese, Video Producer at Blinkist

Key idea 1 of 9

Urbanization, agriculture and climate change – problems we’ve created – are why we’re running out of water.  

Some 70 percent of earth’s surface is covered with water. So why has the issue of water scarcity become such a hot topic?

It’s not that we lack water in general; it’s a lack of drinkable water that has become a global concern.

Much of the water available for drinking is actually polluted; and waterborne diseases, such as cholera and dysentery, are actually the leading causes of death and sickness around the world. The combination of highly populated cities and poor sanitation has led to a rise in waterborne diseases.

Another source of drinkable, or potable, water is groundwater found in natural underground reservoirs, or aquifers. Yet when we pump water out of aquifers faster than it can be replenished, these reservoirs collapse, preventing them from absorbing any more water.

Crucially, when aquifers dry up, the land can actually sink, a process called subsidence. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the constant extraction of groundwater to irrigate crops is believed to have caused the land to sink some 40 feet over the past 90 years.

What’s more, aquifers in coastal regions are at risk of taking on seawater when groundwater levels fall too low, turning once potable water into non-potable water.

Many freshwater rivers are fed by glaciers. Yet because of climate change, these glaciers are melting at ever faster rates. While the flow of freshwater into rivers might increase in the near term, in the long term as the glaciers melt completely and disappear, so too will the rivers.

The distribution of potable water is also a concern. Importantly, we as a society are distributing water unequally among ourselves.

Increasing urbanization has put pressure on water systems. As some 55 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, the demand for water in metropolitan areas far exceeds the supply from nearby ground- and surface water sources. Demand thus can only be met through deeper wells or even transporting water from increasingly remote areas.

Within certain municipalities, water is often unequally allocated by agencies or the government. New Delhi, for example, distributes water to certain regions based on geography. So while some 500 liters per person per day goes to the local army base, some 225 liters goes to official settlement areas. Yet only 50 liters per person per day is delivered to New Delhi’s overpopulated slums.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.