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The Big Thirst Audiobook

The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water

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Publisher's Summary

The water coming out of your tap is four billion years old and might have been slurped by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. We will always have exactly as much water on Earth as we have ever had. Water cannot be destroyed, and it can always be made clean enough for drinking again. In fact, water can be made so clean that it actually becomes toxic. As Charles Fishman brings vibrantly to life in this delightful narrative excursion, water runs our world in a host of awe-inspiring ways, which is both the promise and the peril of our unexplored connections to it.

Taking listeners from the wet moons of Saturn to the water-obsessed hotels of Las Vegas, and from a rice farm in the Australian outback to a glimpse into giant vats of soup at Campbell's largest factory, he reveals that our relationship to water is conflicted and irrational, neglected and mismanaged. Whether we will face a water scarcity crisis has little to do with water and everything to do with how we think about water - how we use it, connect with it, and understand it.

Portraying and explaining both the dangers - in 2008, Atlanta came just 90 days from running completely out of drinking water - and the opportunities, such as advances in rainwater harvesting and businesses that are making huge breakthroughs in water productivity, The Big Thirst will forever change the way we think about water, our crucial relationship to it, and the creativity we can bring to ensuring we always have plenty of it.

©2011 Charles Fishman (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A timely warning about the dwindling global water supply." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (323 )
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4.2 (254 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 04-08-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 04-08-13 Member Since 2009
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    "water & greed & stupidity are not scarce"

    is our water supply really endangered or scarce ?
    should municipalities make water expensive or cost-free ?
    is there any part of modern life not influenced by water ?

    charles fishman provides an very entertaining answer to these questions
    the text shows he has studied these issues across history and culture
    but the lively and personal narrative style make it an easy read

    my favorite parts of the book deal with human stupidity and ingenuity
    the variety of responses to local water issues is simply astounding
    at times greed and fear seem as influential as rainfall and water treatment

    the bottom line seems to be that water is not really scarce
    but it will become a valuable commodity within the next generation
    as our grandparents would tell us, we must not take it for granted

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BirderMame 03-25-13
    BirderMame 03-25-13
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    "Important and fascinating"
    Where does The Big Thirst rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is one of the few that I feel I need to talk about and recommend to everybody I encounter. It offers valuable insights about the world's urgent water crises and people's relationship to water, beginning with broad overview of water's chemical properties and history and moving on to detailed descriptions of the wide variety of experience in places ranging from Las Vegas and Atlanta to India (several different cities) and Australia (several different locales).


    Any additional comments?

    The performance is intelligent and clear. I strongly recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denis G. Dimick Los Alamos, NM USA 04-12-14
    Denis G. Dimick Los Alamos, NM USA 04-12-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Waste of my time"

    I thought this book was along the lines of Salt, or Alchemy of Air, however, after 45mins, I just couldn't stand listening any longer.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Parola138 Czech Republic 01-01-13
    Parola138 Czech Republic 01-01-13 Listener Since 2005

    We bite

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    "You will never look at water the same"

    This is one of those non-fiction books that just blows you away. It was a little tough getting into it at first, but once it got into all the stuff about Las Vegas and golf courses, etc. I was hooked. Great narration. You will seriously never look at water the same after listening to this.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 09-23-15
    Jason 09-23-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A must read..."

    This book teaches us the complexities of water and the nuances of how we use and abuse it. It gives you a deep insite to other cultures and their relationship with water. I recommend it to anyone who likes to drink water!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ilkka Turku, Finland 03-16-15
    ilkka Turku, Finland 03-16-15 Member Since 2016

    A fan of books on psychology, biosphere and business. Favourites: Vaclav Smil, Joshua Foer, Warren Buffett, David Christian, Guy Spier.

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    "Not an educational book."

    Disclaimer: I listened only the first 60 minutes of this book.This review concerns only this first hour.

    The first 20 minutes of this audiobooks is multiple iterations of the following: "No one ever thinks about their water. It comes from the tab and people don't understand how their lives are completely dependent on it. Their bodies are made of it. And yet no one ever appreciates how precious it is."

    This over-extended intro is not very useful.

    After the first 20 minutes the author gives one useful concept: "The water you drink has been around for the past 4 billion years. It's the same water that dinosaurs drank."
    But Mr. Fishman does not expand on this eternal cycle. How much evaporation happens in a year? How much mixing is there between different layers of the ocean? He does not tell.

    Soon the author starts laying out an agenda about how people are overusing water. He tells two stories about water shortages: one in Barcelona and another in a small town in US. The stories are interesting. However they do not help the reader understand the global water cycle.

    I quit the book after the first 60 minutes. I felt the author hadn't said anything informative about water. I wanted answers to questions like
    - How much water do people use around the globe?
    - What do people use most water for?
    - How much water is used in different economic activities: households, agriculture, industry? Why? Which industry is the most water intensive?
    - What is the minimum water amount a person needs in order to survive? Why does the body need water? Why do plants need water?
    - How is water processed to make it suitable for human consumption? What are the impurities and which processes reduce which pathogens?
    - Where do communities usually take their water: rivers, lakes, groundwater, seawater?
    - How many places make drinking water from seawater? How? How much energy does it require?
    - How much of the global water reservoir is in oceans, lakes, rivers, clouds, ice?
    - How much energy is generated with hydropower? How much does it vary from year to year?
    - Where is the shortage of water most acute? Why? What kind of population density would be sustainable at those areas?


    This is not necessarily a bad read; he did give two highly interesting stories about towns under distress. Such stories are very interesting and entertaining. But they are misleading without the proper context in my opinion.

    I got annoyed with the prose very early and it probably distorts my perception. More babble-tolerant readers will learn a lot more than I.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi M. Johnson 02-28-15 Listener Since 2003
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    "interesting, but long"

    Fascinating facts and stories about water, but at times the details became a little long.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    douglasuke Hong Kong 01-17-15
    douglasuke Hong Kong 01-17-15 Member Since 2001

    douglas_eu

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    "Comprehensive overview of an important topic"

    Having read several books on this subject recently, in my opinion, this is among the best. It provides a very balanced view off water from many different perspectives and has armed me to think about one off the most important topic affecting our lives.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy - Colorado Springs Colorado Springs 02-22-14
    Andy - Colorado Springs Colorado Springs 02-22-14 Member Since 2015

    amcolorado

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    "Should be required reading for all HS students."

    This is a great book. It does a great job of describing water issues in an interesting and entertaining way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward 09-03-13
    Edward 09-03-13

    Jack of all trades, but expert at none. Newest and lates adventure is learning to fly and rebuilding my business.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pray for rain, or read this book"

    I really enjoyed this book. I have already suggested many of my friends read it as well. If you are wondering when it will rain next, you may want to think about what we are doing with the water we have, than water we don't. This book helps to put into perspective our use of water. If you like random facts, you will love this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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