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Covering a vast array of scientific fields and recent discoveries, Kandel traces water in all its chemical states as it cycles through the seas, the atmosphere, land, icecaps and under the earth. He investigates how nuclear reactions in the interiors of stars produce the oxygen needed to form H2O. After showing how the atmosphere's motions apportion moisture, the book follows the course of water over the land, into the soil, and through plants back to the atmosphere. From there, water travels along streams and great rivers back to the seas. Kandel also considers climate change and how political and economic decisions that we make today will affect water resources for the next century.
Part 1. Water in the Universe: From the Big Bang to the Appearance of Man
2. The Churning of the Earth
3. Origin and Evolution of Life
4. Cosmic Catastrophes
5. Ice, Moon, and Planets
Part 2: Water in Today's World
6. Water and Energy Cycles
7. Winds, waves, and currents
8. Water's deep memories
9. Clouds, rain, and angry skies
10. Earth's water, between sky and sea
Part 3: Water in Human History: Past and Future
11. Water and Man's Rise to Civilization
12. Problems for the 21st Century
13. Butterflies and humans in a warming greenhouse
14. Back to the ice age?
15. The end of the story
Robert Kandel is a senior scientist of the C.N.R.S. (National Scientific Research Agency of France). He is a member of NASA's Earth Radiation Science Team and chief scientist for the French-Russian-German ScaRaB radiation mission and is currently working on a joint European-Japanese satellite project to observe clouds, aerosols, and radiation. He is the author of several books, including Earth and Cosmos and Our Changing Climate. He was born in Brooklyn and now lives in Paris, France.
"[A]n audacious tour de force that sweeps across time and space at a breathtaking pace [...] a masterful treatment of a complex subject that is of vital and growing importance.
"It is impossible to overestimate the importance of water to our daily lives and our place in the universe. This point may seem obvious but it gains fresh currency in Kandel's Water From Heaven [...] there is plenty here to fascinate."
– Washington Post Book World
"Explains in fascinating detail the origins of water on the planet Earth and how the molecules of water have circulated throughout time."
– Natural History
"Kandel explains the earth's elaborate and essential-to-life water cycle in a suitably fluid and mesmerizing narrative [...] A wealth of invaluable information."
"The epic story of the world's most vital resource, from the formation of the solar system to the controversial issues and dire concerns of today."
– Library Journal
"Kandel tells the story of water, from the big bang to global warming. He examines where it is, why it is, and how we use and abuse it."
– New Scientist
"A fine discussion of large scale agriculture which is so heavily dependent on water supplies."
– Northeastern Naturalist
"[Kandel's] book will beguile both housewives and hydrologists [...] for now they'll better appreciate the actual world through which they wander and wonder."
– Peter Wild, U.S. Water News, May 2006
"A very enjoyable book."
– Neil MacDonald, Environmental Conservation