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The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century Paperback – 10 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 435 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company; Reprint edition (10 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416535462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416535461
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,028,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Paperback. Pub Date: 2012 Pages: 448 Publisher: Scribner AS Alex Prud'homme and his great-aunt Julia Child Were completing their collaboration on her memoir. My Life in France. They began to talk about the French obsession with bottled water. which had finally spread to America. From this spark of interest. Prud'homme began what would become an ambitious quest to understand the evolving story of freshwater. What he found was shocking: as the climate warms and world population grows. demand for water has surged. but supplies of freshwater are static or dropping. and new threats to water quality appear every day. The Ripple Effect is Prud'homme's vivid and engaging inquiry into the fate of freshwater in the twenty-first century. The questions he sought to answer were urgent: Will there be enough water to satisfy demand What are the threats to its quality What is the state of o...

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Water will be the driving force of developing economies and water will determine the future of the Middle East. The good news is a U.K. company has come up with "Restorative Solutions" to a positive climate change-back, effecting climate change in a positive way through application of massive water recovery, generation & reforestation technology by producing inexhaustible forever supply of water for sustainable livelihood and socioeconomic development so as to improve environmental health and well-being. Actions have been taken and wheels are already in motion in their effort to arrest further negative climate change (so deep seated in our mindset as to be deemed irreversible) and to promote the idea that people take up the challenge to "evaginate" the climatic process with creative thinking and do things ecologically beneficial hands-on in innovative ways. Water will be the driving force for developing economies and the foundation of our economic evolution. Waterleaux is master planning to reforest parts of MENA and terra-forming arid land into everglades of wetland and floodplain of rich agricultural developments made possible with Massive Water Recovery, Generation and Reforestation and Environmental Restorative Technology that will provide "forever" supply of water to developing countries worldwide.
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By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
The conventional wisdom about freshwater, at least in the affluent West, is hopelessly clouded by how easy it is to use all the water you want by simply turning on the tap. Alex Prud'homme, a longtime magazine journalist, says the days of reliable plenty are in jeopardy. He meticulously lays out the unpleasant facts, covering rampant pollution, moneyed interests seizing control of public resources, growing scarcity amid booming populations, and looming megafloods thanks to global warming. The book's strength lies in the portraits of the real people at the center of these topics, and that personal touch helps keep a tiny flame of optimism alive that these problems are ultimately human in scale and fixable. This facet is also a weakness in that the book reads like a series of earnest, long-form radio reports - dispatches that push a bony finger onto the pessimism button. Yet this important book stands a better chance than most of moving good people and governments into action. getAbstract recommends it to green-minded industrialists, urban planners, big-vision lawmakers, future-focused engineers, technological innovators and anyone who wants to understand why that plastic bottle of water really isn't the answer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 31 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Conserve it, use it smartly in accordance with nature, and keep it clean 1 Jan. 2012
By Sal Nudo - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Author Alex Prud `Homme claims "The Ripple Effect" is not an "encyclopedic" read, but at times if feels that way. That's not to say I wouldn't recommend this book; after all, the many troublesome issues over available, clean freshwater for citizens worldwide are crucial to know about and getting increasingly urgent by the year.

Prud `Homme cannot be accused of forgoing research or skimping on facts. He transitions nicely from one troubled region to the next, giving proper weight to the severity of the problems but not sensationalizing, and offering advice by experts throughout. I came away thinking super-arid Arizona, remote Las Vegas, sprawling California and weather-troubled Georgia are in for some rough times, presently and in the future. The Midwest, where environmentally destructive farming methods and flooding are common, also has its share of water-related predicaments. Prud `Homme drives the point home that people all over the world -- from seasoned hydrologists to the average man and woman -- will need to rethink every aspect of water. As populations explode, drinkable H2O is dwindling -- something's got to give in this equation. Additionally, outdated, unregulated laws and a worrisome inclination by politicians and their constituents during the last decade or so to pay less attention to "the fate of freshwater in the twenty-first century" have exacerbated the problems.

Admittedly, my eyes and thoughts glazed over at times as Prud `Homme intricately covered numerous judicial cases and technical details to supplement the themes. But numerous things stuck with me. Harmful agricultural methods, for instance, have contributed to the runoff of contaminated groundwater into major rivers, causing numerous "dead zones" where aquatic life has stagnated and useable drinking supplies have been curtailed. In addition, though they are much needed and provide a cherished economic drive, electricity, thirsty crops like corn and raising farm animals account for much more wasted and detrimental water use than water coming out of taps by U.S. residents as a whole, a fact I found interesting.

Smarter techniques and habits could change things for the better, such as building porous concrete that absorbs rainwater in urban areas and not purchasing bottled water. But evolution comes slowly when high-stakes money and ever-moving progress (in areas where it's difficult to transport water) are on the agenda. As more and more pavement is laid down in urban areas all over the country, some of it covering precious wetlands where rainwater is easily absorbed, the runoff of tainted water into underground pipes is inevitable. The flushing of pharmaceuticals and everything else under the sun is also a potential issue, as is climate change and evolving weather patterns that much of the world is drastically unprepared for. Leaders in forward-thinking countries such as below-sea-level Holland have thought outside the box and adapted beautifully, working in tune with nature for results that work. Other locales, such as New York City, could come to a standstill if a weather-related catastrophe struck -- and experts claim such calamities will occur. All this just scratches the surface of what's covered in "The Ripple Effect."

Solutions? Prud `Homme offers hope, including a cautiously optimistic section about desalination plants, which extract salt from seawater to make it drinkable. All is not bleak, but many people in the know say that the preciousness of water could someday exceed that of oil, and it's worth noting that the two resources work hand in hand. This is an eye-opening book that's worth the time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Must read 23 Sept. 2012
By Marty - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not done reading this book. Some books you just can't gallop through, they must be digested incrementally, and this is one of them. I have felt for some time that water, being indispensable to all life, will inevitably and finally be the one thing that either pits humans against each other or ultimately forces us to cooperate. Let's hope it is the latter.
We have done such a whole lot of damage to this planet that I hold slight hope of it (and us) holding on a whole lot longer. Yes, I sound like a nut, but how long could you hold out without water? -- Maybe 3 days. So many people walk many miles each day to obtain water -- and really cruddy water at that. We're still lucky in the US to have fresh water -- just turn on the tap, there it is -- but we're using it up faster than we should. Agriculture and fracking and industry etc etc use billions of gallons per day. I sure don't know what the answer is, and I'm betting that by the end of the book the answer will still not be clear.
This is an important issue that should have TRUE cooperation nationally and internationally, it's above politics. It's about the survival of life on planet earth. And we can't survive without water.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Excellent 27 Sept. 2011
By Garry W. Owens - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Ripple Effect provides a very basic review of the condition of freshwater around the world. The data is very useful and the commentary provides a variety of viewpoints about the global water crisis from a layperson's point of view. It is a body of work that should be read and used to determine a course of action that is intended to have significant impacts particularly in the under and undeveloped places on the globe. I highly recommend it to all water justice activists present and future.
62 of 87 people found the following review helpful
Credibility undermined 4 Sept. 2011
By Ellis Burruss - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The thesis of the book appears to be that we waste and pollute a vitally important resource because we don't value it enough. Unfortunately, those points are not made because the book is riddled with factual errors, ignorance of scientific terminology, misleading and/or alarmist statements, and bad editing.
As examples: methane is not toxic nor is iron a poison as Mr. Prud'homme claims they are. Those are just two of the erroneous statements that serve to undermine the credibility of the book. But, more on them later.

Factual errors
On page 41 there is a reference to an abandoned copper mine "...the thirty-nine-thousand-foot-deep pit..."
39,000 feet is equal to 7.4 miles. The deepest mine shaft in the world is the TauTona gold mine in the Witwatersrand region of South Africa, which is currently working at depths of 12,800 feet. Such a vast, deep pit that Prud'homme reports just does not exist.
On page 142 he states "While national water fees average about $458 per residence a year, some of Denver's expanding suburbs.... The town of Louisville charges $20,000 per house, and Broomfield charges $24,424 per house per year."
A simple email inquiry to the Broomfield water department elicited this response from the Billing & Accounts Administrator, City and County of Broomfield:
"Yes, I'm sure they are talking about the one time water impact fee. However, ours is currently $22,454.00. I don't know where the extra $1,970 comes from. Our average bill (water usage and water flat charge, no sewer) is approximately $485 per year. As for Louisville, I just looked online and their water impact fee is $24,140."

Improper use of scientific terminology
It is bad enough when news media frequently refer to carbon dioxide as "carbon," but that misuse appears to have become an accepted convention. However, Mr. Prud'homme takes the error to a new level. On page 209 he states, "Wetlands...(they also absorb carbon, a greenhouse gas...." and, on page 230, "...send millions of tons of carbon gas into the air...."
Carbon can appear in several familiar forms such as graphite, soot, charcoal, or diamond, but never as a gas.
Even that usage could be overlooked as an accepted slovenly shortcut by a journalist, but the author gives the same treatment to nitrogen. On page 93 he quotes "Some scientists have labeled nitrogen a `missing greenhouse gas' because it is not one of the four gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride)... named in the Kyoto protocol...."
Apparently the "scientists" he quotes cannot distinguish between nitrogen compounds and nitrogen gas. Further, the author did not read his own writing -- he lists nitrous oxide (a nitrogen compound) as being named in the Kyoto protocol he just quoted.
Further, if nitrogen is a greenhouse gas, then we're certainly doomed because nitrogen makes up over 78% of our atmosphere.
On page 67 while warning about the appearance of modern chemicals in our drinking water, triclocarban is described as "... an antibiotic...." less than one minute of research finds that triclocarban is not an antibiotic, it is an antimicrobial. Another minute reveals the difference between them. It's important.

Misleading or alarmist statements
Prud'homme's promiscuous use of the word "toxic" leads him to some absurd positions. On page 28 he states, "... saturated with other toxic compounds, such as xylene, toluene, and methane." Wrong. A person may be killed by methane through suffocation or explosion, but not by poisoning. Methane is not "toxic," it is biologically inert.
On page 16 he refers to "...toxic metals, such as copper and zinc..." and on page 102 "numerous poisons -- including arsenic, cobalt, iron, and thallium at dangerous levels,..."
Both copper and zinc are necessary dietary trace minerals: we need them to be healthy. Iron also is a necessary mineral in our diet. I'm sure even Mr. Prud'homme's editors (if there were any) have heard of "iron deficiency." If iron were toxic then all cast iron cookware should immediately be discarded.

Just plain nonsense
On page 51 we are told that "Sewage treatment requires enormous amounts of energy, which is costly and adds to climate change...." Is the author saying that sewage should not be treated, but, instead, dumped raw into our rivers as we used to do? We should do this to avoid climate change?
Another alarmist use of "toxins" is seen on page 77, "Endocrine disrupters are found in many everyday items, including... and plastics (especially plastic containers numbered 3, 6, and 7, which are associated with potentially harmful toxins)." Are the endocrine disruptors "associated with potentially harmful toxins" or is it the "plastic containers numbered 3, 6, and 7?" That sentence just does not make sense.
Then on page 339, writing about the ultra-pure water needed in electronic chip factories, "...which acts as a sponge for microcontaminants, such as colloidal solids, particles, total organic carbon, bacteria, pyrogens (fragments of bacteria), metal ions, and the like."
This list makes no sense. "particles"? Of what? "total organic carbon" is not a contaminant, but, rather, a measurement of contamination. That usage is nonsense in the quoted context. "Pyrogens" are not "fragments of bacteria" they are fever-causing agents.

The above are just a few of the examples of error, ignorance, alarmist statements, and nonsense found by a general reader in this book.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Great Read! 29 Jun. 2011
By EmilyKAH - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Ripple Effect is a well-written,though-provoking read about a fascinating subject that is relevant around the world. His explanation of this crisis is both comprehensive and captivating. I definitely recommend reading it!
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