But before we even can think about how we interact with water, most of us need a better idea what we are talking about.
His answers are mind expanding:
And then this water somehow becomes compressed into rock forming a band within the earth's core, but you'll have to read that explanation yourself.
Having given us a primer on the nature of water, Fishman goes on to provide a series of descriptive discussions of how various cities, regions and countries have managed water, well and poorly. These include Las Vegas, which from a water availability point of view ought not to exist out there in the desert, but which is actually managing relatively competently. (Friends of mine take a different view of that management than Fishman; more here.)
There's such a thing as too much water: in 2008 Hurricane Ike flooded Galveston and knocked out the city's systems. Restoring them provided many lessons.
These days we may think of California as the epicenter of drought experience, but Australia has suffered far more and learned much about how to provide water to a modern, industrial civilization when natural cycles and climate change turn a continent dry.
The Indian subcontinent deals with water distribution in ways that seem both profoundly counterintuitive and inequitable. Fishman provides a frightening description of how a wealthy, modern society can fail to tend and extend a modern water system as a consequence of historical and cultural attitudes.
From there, Fishman moves on to discuss how international capitalism is developing and exploiting water's marketability, costs and potential profits.
To be honest, this story is frightening. Yet I come away understanding why Fishman is an optimist. Providing water to humans and other living beings both adequately and efficiently is a social challenge, both political and moral. But we know a lot about what could be done if we would just create the context in which to do it. This challenge is about moving from understanding to action. Fishman concludes: