Negev: Land, Water, and Life in a Desert Environment



In view of the continuing increased concern about the extreme fragility of deserts and desert margins, Negev provides a timely discussion of land-use practices compatible with the often conflicting goals of preservation and development. The success o f agricultural and hydrologic experiments in the Negev desert of Israel offers hope to the large percentage of the world's population that lives with an unacceptably low quality of life in desert margins. Deserts are the one remaining type of open space that, with proper use, has the potential for alleviating the misery often associated with expanding population.

In addition to the science in the book, the author repeatedly reinforces the concept that “western civilization is inextricably bound to the Negev and its environs, from which it has drawn, via its desert-born religions—Judasium, Christianity, and Islam—many of the mores and concepts, and much of the imagery and love of the desert, including man's relation to nature and to ‘God’.” Deserts often are erroneously perceived to be areas of no water: In reality, these are areas in which a little rainfall occurs sporadically and unpredictably over time. This meager water supply can be meticulously garnered to produce nutritious crops and forage.