Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Important new book on water: "The Ripple Effect"

Alex Prud’homme is a steadfast friend of this blog, and he’s just published a new book about water. With the relentless objectivity that characterizes everything we do, Carbon Based urges everyone to read our friend’s book. Meanwhile, Alex Prud'homme writes: Experts call it “the next oil,” and predict water will be the focus of increased tension 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.

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….

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