Book Review: Dry Spring – The Coming Water Crisis of North America by Chris Wood

Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North AmericaChris Wood is a veteran Canadian journalist and author, contributing to numerous publications including The Globe and Mail, the CBC, the Walrus, and the Tyee, among others.  He has authored several books, including Blockbusters and Trade Wars: Popular Culture in a Globalized World, which he co-authored with Peter Grant.

Throughout his writing career Wood has focused on, as he told me in a recent interview, “people and societies in their place”.

That interest, combined with an ongoing an acute awareness of environmental issues, led to his most recent book Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America.

Dry Spring tells a compelling story of water. How it moves, cycles, and distributes throughout the world’s watersheds and ecosystems, and how climate change is altering the distribution of fresh water sources throughout the world, and particularly in North America.

Wood shows how the overall pattern of climate variability has begun to swing in an ever increasing arc of greater extremes as more and more energy in the system attempts to find equilibrium.

Wood’s ability to tell the story of how these changes will affect people, in cities and towns, on ranches and farms, is where the book shines. Wood is able to draw the reader into the ecology of water distribution and watersheds by making it a very human story of the challenges we face in the coming decades.

One point Wood stresses is how many major watersheds cross international boundaries and the increased need for cooperation between nations on water resource issues. In the particular case of Canada and the United States, he makes the apparently controversial point among his fellow Canadians of increased cooperation in the stewardship and sharing of these resources between the two countries.

Al Appleton, former Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection says of Dry Spring:

The best thing yet written on the many impacts of global warming on the world’s water and climate systems. A highly readable interweaving of hard science with the stories of individual people.”

And Alanna Mitchell, author of Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots said:

This is a beautifully written, compelling, controversial and hopeful tale that merits a place on the bookshelf of anyone who cares about the fate of humanity.”

I talked with Chris for the better part of an hour earlier this month, discussing his book, climate climate change in general and the perception issues of sustainability, water, and preparing for a rapidly changing climate. Will we finally realize and understand the situation in which we find ourselves and the urgent need to adapt, change, mitigate, and amend our relationship with the earth?

Wood remains hopeful:

After all”, he says, “Reality always wins, sooner or later.”

Dry Spring is a good dose of reality.

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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