Pillar of Sand: Can The Irrigation Miracle Last?

Author: Sandra Postel
ISBN: 0-393-31937-7
313 pages
July 1999

A key lesson from history is that most irrigation-based civilizations fail. As we enter the third millennium A.D., the question is: Will ours be any different?

Irrigation has been a powerful tool of human advancement for 6,000 years. It remains a cornerstone of agriculture today, as farmers strive to meet the increasing food demands of ever larger populations. In Pillar of Sand, author Sandra Postel examines the challenges to our modern irrigation society-from mounting water scarcity and salinization of soils to rising tensions between countries over shared rivers. She explores irrigation's role in the rise and fall of early civilizations and connects the lessons of the past with the challenge of making irrigation thrive into the twenty-first century and beyond.

Pillar of Sand points the way toward protecting rivers and vital ecosystems even as we aim to produce enough food for a projected 8 billion people by the year 2030. Postel shows how innovative irrigation technologies and strategies can alleviate hunger and environmental stress at the same time. And she calls for a new ethic of sufficiency and sharing in response to impending water limits.