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
"A timely warning about the dwindling global water supply." (Kirkus)
An excellent review of water utilization and of the problems that we all face as the need for water increases on the background of finite supply. Mr Fishman obviously knows the subject to great depth, but he's such a Green ideologue that he ignores inconvenient facts. For example, when detailing the efforts that IBM has made at its Vermont plant to use water more efficiently he lists the savings that their efforts have yielded - and they are substantial. He then quotes the IBM official in charge of the effort as saying; "We did 50 different things [to get these results]." Well. these 50 different things most have cost something, but Mr Fishman never mentions what this cost was. Thus, there's no way for the listener to know what IBM's net savings were or if there even was a net savings.
In his very good description of the bottled water craze that has seized the US he mentions how the market has worked to effect the unnecessary use of water but failed to work in the necessary sector of water use. Of course, most of our water is supplied by government or government regulated utilities where there is no opportunity for market forces to work. When he discusses GE's water programs his disdain is palpable even when he grants them success. He obviously is not a fan of capitalism.
Fishman discusses an issue of critical importance to the very survival of human life. After all, separating the sewerage from the drinking water has saved more lives then all the doctors who have ever lived or ever will live. He knows the subject and covers it in great detail. He writes very well. The narrator is very good and the listener will learn a lot about the subject. You just have to realize that Fishman is the victim of his own zeal and innate bias. If you put this into the equation you can get a lot from this book. He depiction of how recent is a reliable water supply to the developed world and how fragile its continuance is should serve as a valuable warning to our on-going complacence about the future of our water supply. Just ramp up your bias filter.
Good book, got me thinking about all of the current (and soon to come) issues with water supply. Ending is a disappointment. OK, we need to have a paradigm shift on the "costs" of water, need to charge for it such that it is not considered "free". Ya don't need to expound on that for an hour of book time especially when that point is made several times previously. I skipped the last hour, it got boring!
But overall highly recommended, the author makes some very good points and is well-written.
I will be visiting Las Vegas before it dries up.
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