Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Ripple Effect by Alex Prud'homme - Review

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

New Water Book: Alex Prud'homme and 'The Ripple Effect' on 'The Daily Show'

Just when I thought I was getting caught up on water books...
Alex Prud'homme hawks his new book - The Ripple Effect -  on The Daily Show of two days ago.
Prud'homme also has a blog - The Ripple Blog - it's about all things water. Hmmm....
Here is the blurb about his book:
Experts call it “the next oil,” and predict water will be the focus of increased tension125-tn-ripple  and great innovation in coming decades.  In response, I set out in 2007 to discover how people across the U.S. and around the world are using and abusing water today – and how they are preparing for what the UN has deemed “the looming water crisis.”
The result is THE RIPPLE EFFECT. The book’s title comes from my observation that every time we use water – even for something as mundane as washing our hands, spraying the lawn, or generating power for light – it sets off deep and wide hydrologic ripple effects, with consequences that most of us are unaware of.  But today we no longer have the luxury of ignorance: we must understand how our actions impact the earth’s limited supply of fresh water, and learn to value H2O more highly.  After all, we can live without oil, but not without water.
IMG_7783small-200x300 I think of this book as an intellectual adventure story.  In the course of reporting, I traveled from inside New York City’s new Water Tunnel No. 3 (the $6 billion water tunnel being drilled 600 feet beneath Manhattan) to the disputed aquifers of Poland Springs, ME, the “intersex” fish and Dead Zone of the Chesapeake Bay, poisoned wells and flooding rivers in the Midwest, the “water-energy nexus” in oil and gas fields, the failed levees of Katrina-wracked New Orleans, drought-threatened Las Vegas, California’s vulnerable San Francisco Delta, and up to the resource wars of the Alaskan Peninsula.
Each of these stories features compelling characters who grapple with crucial water issues, and is written in a narrative style for a broad audience. Water is a vast subject, and while THE RIPPLE EFFECT is inclusive it is not encyclopedic.  The book is divided into four parts: water quality (what’s in our water?); drought; flood; and water in the twenty-first century.
Some of the themes I address include:
  • New types of water pollution, and their mitigation
  • The cost of failing infrastructure such as dams and levees
  • Debates over bottled water and water privatization
  • Climate change, population growth, and changing diets
  • Sewage treatment
  • Water law and the prospect of water wars
  • Weather modification and desalination
Although I did not report abroad each story is a local drama with global implications: I compare US water pollution to that of China; drought here to that in Australia; US floods to those in Europe; mining and energy use here to that of Central America and other parts of the world, and the like.
Water is a timely issue.  The U.S. is using water in unsustainable ways, but now – some forty years after the burning of the Cuyahoga River and the poisoning of Love Canal, the founding of the EPA, and the passage of the Clean Water Act — there is a slowly growing public awareness of the value of water, a booming market for water efficiency and treatment technologies, and a vibrant dialogue about potential solutions to the water problems of the coming decades.
“…Alex Prud’homme makes a vast and desperately serious topic flow beautifully through the rocks and hard places that our planet is caught between” - John Seabrook, staff writer at the New Yorker
 Prud'homme is a grandnephew of the late Julia Child.
Looks good...another review to do...
Maybe we can get him for the AWRA November conference?
‎"Sooner or later,wittingly or unwittingly, we must pay for every intrusion on the natural environment." ~Barry Commoner


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 An informative and good read. Robert Galway


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Great Lakes Falling Waters Website

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book Review of Water by Marq de Villiers

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant--Puts Water in Context of War, Peace, and Life
Robert D. Steele (Oakton, VA United States) - 
I rank this book as being among the top ten I have read in the decade, for the combined reason that its topic concerns our survival, and its author has done a superior job of integrating both scholarly research (with full credit to those upon whose work he builds) and what must be a unique background of actually having traveled to the specific desolate areas that comprise the heart of this book-from the Aral Sea ("the exposed seabed, now over 28,000 square kilometers, became a stew of salt, pesticide residues, and toxic chemicals; the strong winds in the region pick up more than 40 million tons of these poisonous sediments each year, and the contaminated dust storms that follow have caused the incidence of respiratory illnesses and cancers to explode.") to the heart of China ("According to China's own figures, between 1983 and 1990 the number of cities short of water tripled to three hundred, almost half the cities in the country; those who problem was described as 'serious' rose from forty to one hundred." The author provides a thoughtful and well-structured look at every corner of the world, with special emphasis on the Middle East, the Tigris-Euphrates System, the Nile, the Americas, and China; and at the main human factors destroying our global water system: pollution, dams (that silt up and prevent nutrients from going downstream or flooding from rejuvenating the lower lands), irrigation (leading to salination such that hundreds of thousands of acres are now infertile and being taken out of production), over-engineering, and excessive water mining from aquifers, which are in serious danger of drying up in key areas in the US as well as overseas within the next twenty years. The author provides a balanced and well-documented view overall. His final chapter on solutions explores conservation, technical, and political options. Two statements leapt off the page: first, that it is the average person, unaware of the fragility of our water system, that is doing the most damage, not the corporations or mega-farms; and second, that for the price of one military ship or equipped unit ($100 million), one can desalinate 100 million cubic meters of water. The bottom line is clear: we are close to a tipping point toward catastrophe but solution are still within our grasp, and they require, not world government, but a virtual world system that permits the integrated management of all aspects of water demand as well supply. This book should be required reading for every college student and every executive and every government employee at local, state, and federal levels; and every citizen.

An informative and good read. Robert Galway


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Great Lakes Falling Waters Website