Projections of freshwater supplies worldwide warn that resources will not meet the proliferation of need, which is spurred by the pressures of population, industry, agriculture, climate change, and the excesses of waste. Increasing incidents of shortage, from New Delhi to New England to Mexico, provide glimpses of a world water crisis that is advancing inexorably upon civilization, gathering menace with every step.

Why, then, does water fail to rally a forceful, sustained response from the collective global consciousness?