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We all know what water is and many of us take it for granted. But because it seems so natural, the way we see water is seldom given critical attention. This book provides a much-needed analysis of how we view water, showing that modern understandings have given rise to a global crisis. Jamie Linton argues that modern Western society tends to understand water as a scientific abstraction - as merely H2O or the substance occurring in the hydrologic cycle. We have lost sight of its essential fecundity and stripped it of its wider environmental, social, and cultural contexts. This removal, or abstraction, has given modern society license to treat water as something that may dammed, diverted, and manipulated with impunity. The water crisis can be averted, Linton concludes, by deliberately reinvesting water with social content.