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The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century
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The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  218 ratings  ·  46 reviews
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 sho ...more
Kindle Edition, 435 pages
Published (first published June 7th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 865)
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Keith Akers
What I liked about this is that it covered the politics of water very well. The author writes in an engaging style and it reads like a novel. What I didn't like was that the book is hopelessly anecdotal. The stories are great, the politics is well explored, this guy should be a journalist. But the analysis is perfectly awful. The promise of the subtitle ("The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century") is not met: the fate of fresh water is mentioned, but not discussed. In the end I compro ...more
David Smiadak
Most complete book in detailing water issues that I have come across. The book describes the high political stakes of water both domestically and around the world. Also a very useful reference for detailing existing and emerging technologies for both water extraction and treatment. Good read for anyone interested in the topic.
It wasn’t until I started reading this book that I realized I hadn’t been entirely sure what to expect from a book about water. Within the first twenty pages, however, I also realized Mr. Prud’homme was going to exceed whatever expectations I had about this topic. This is a tremendously well-researched and organized book, covering a vast array of topics and shaping the conversation about water into a complex but accessible treatise. It’s a fantastic survey of the state of water – and the laws, e ...more
In continuation of my previous piece on water, i am writing a short review on the book "The ripple effect" by Alex Prudhomme. The reasons that got me interested in water are

A. The days i started spending my time atop mountain top posts with nothing but Ice for water and was imagining what would happen if it doesn't exist, the enemy wouldn't need a WMD.

B. slowly started seeing water tanker jokes proliferate into mainstream movies.

C. When my parents in Viluppuram install a RO water purifier at
The coolest thing about this book is that I have been emailing back and forth with the author (who is directly related to Julia Child) and he has accepted our invitation to be the keynote speaker at our (Water For People, DC) World Water Day event! yay!

That said, this book is overwhelming and does not offer much info on any positive steps being taken to address the challenges outlined (which include the full gambit of disaster - pollution, drought, flood, conflict).

Read it to become less of a water newb.
Dennis Stimson
Great information and thoughtful. Thank you!
The Ripple Effect is a must read for anyone who cares about the environment and more importantly is conscientious about where his or her water comes from. I wanted to read this book because I thought I would become more informed about the water I drink much like I did about the food I eat from Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food or even Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. While I certainly did learn a lot more about the problems surrounding water in The Ripple Effect, I ...more
The topic is covered, however the promise of the title is not met. If one has been following the news at all and have an interest in the use and availability of water most of what is in this book is already out there. Drought in the southwest is not news. Drought in Texas old news. States and countries fighting over water--no surprise! The book is well documented, and many people should at least read parts of it.

The author also has pointed out many of the short comings of the governments to tac
I only gave this book four stars because I think it's important. The nuts and bolts of the book are not enjoyable in the least. However, simply because it's unpleasant to look at the train that is barreling down on you, does not mean that looking away will make it go away. The case for water's plight is strong in this book - so strong, in fact, that when Prud'homme is offering solutions near the end, that you just cease to believe him.
He spends so much time (and documentation - the book is about
This was one of those books that jumped off the shelf and into my hands one day while I was at the Public Library. I have been thinking about the plight of our water for a little while, and this book just brought the whole issue into focus. I have to say, while there is hope, the way things are going, things could get pretty scary.

We have a finite supply of water on this planet. Yes, there is a lot of it, and we in Canada, are blessed with an abundance. Still, without the proper management of th
p. 92

Dick Brame, a CCA fisheries scientist, described the Cheasapeake's ecosystem as "a patient that is dying of arterial bleeding, but he also has cancer. The arterial bleeding in this case is the overexploitation of species. The cancer underneath is the continuing decline of water quality. If you can't stop the bleeding, the cancer doesn't matter. But if you do, you still have to deal with the cancer."
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
As other reviews have noted, if you are aware of the water supply issues in even superficial depth, you probably know most of the stories discussed here. The organization does indeed seem lacking, and the science is not really discussed in sufficient detail. I also think the book suffers from an unwillingness to discuss regulatory capture and the power of industries as problems. Also: the EPA is like a beautiful hybrid Volkswagen Beetle, curvy and shiny ... except you crack the bonnet and there' ...more
Matt Stevens
One of my favorite nonfiction books I've read in the past couple years. A very big driver into why I left Colorado and I worry about the future of the Southwest.
Prud���homme condenses the complex science, politics, history, and economics of water into a brisk polemic for the lay reader. His hydrological quest brings him to mines and salmon spawning grounds in Alaska, river deltas in California, and a subterranean pipe 580 feet below Manhattan. The Ripple Effect shows how decreased water supply, increased population growth, crumbling infrastructure, and climate change have combined with human greed, folly, and wastefulness to lay the groundwork for a glo ...more
It definitely had interesting points, but it also seemed to be intent on delivering one side (and even though it's a side I'm inclined to believe in, it still puts me off). The book also suffered from structure and organizational problems as a result of breaking down the issues of water in the 21st century by quality, drought and flood (followed by infrastructure?) when really, the same issues came up in all of the sections, leading to repeating anecdotes. A different structure would have led to ...more
A tome, but an engaging one. A series of studies of water quality, quantity, and how we manage both. If it sounds dry, it's not (pun intended), but it is a slow read that made me stop, think, cringe sometimes, and return back to the book. Big lessons: water is undervalued, already scarce, and full of stuff we probably don't want to drink. The other big lesson: even so, don't drink bottled water. It's no better for us, often comes right out of the tap, and is an environmental waste in every possi ...more
Michael Hentrich
Even though this book was not what I expected, I'm really glad that I read it. Instead of simply learning about the pros and cons of different sources of water such as tap, spring, etc. I learned a plethora of information about the history and future of water in this world. I never realized how much influence water has in our economy and how much we've damaged much of it. This book definitely gave me a broader understanding of the environment and about how things work in our nation in particular ...more
Not always an easy read, but overall really fascinating because the story of water is the story of everyone's lives. I haven't read a book in a long time that was so relevant to my everyday existence--I have tended to think of water problems in far-off places, but we have plenty to deal with right here in the U.S. The author travels across the country to many familiar places to give a really well-researched account of the current situation.
This book was extremely pertinent to me because I work for my state's Water Quality Control Division. I actually learned a lot more about the actual water quality problems and challenges facing my division by reading this book than I have by working here for two and a half years. This book also reminded me that I practice conservation at home for reasons other than my own personal financial gain.
Pretty much going over ground that has been gone over before. Of course no one pays any attention until its too late and it hits the fan. I shouldn't be saying this but until you control population growth no matter how green you get the resources are going to disappear..........Just give us humans a little mote time and we won't have to worry at all as there will be nothing left
John Zayac
I agree with previous readers that the title and the content do not match. Moreover, the book seems to be an slight expansion and modernization of Reisner's Cadillac Desert.
Dave Stark
I liked this book. It was very thorough and informative and outlined the water problems we are currently facing in the world quite clearly. Although it was well written, the only thing I really didn't like was that, like many books of this kind, the author did a better job at outlying the problems than at offering solutions.
This book was truly frightening. Not because it was written poorly - it wasn't - but because it brings looming crises over a resource as vital as water to the forefront. It brings issues to light that I had not previously considered, and is a step in the right direction toward educating people about the real value of water.
This book was interesting to me because water is my "field" and I have always been interested in environmental topics. The book is stuffed full of good information but is a little lacking in organization and readability. I'd recommend it for people already interested in water but not so much for a casual read.
Andrew Jones
The author tends to shove too much information into a single chapter undoing any potential organization that the section titles hinted at. It would be decent integrative approach, but it does not do a good job at that. The information is all relevant, but the reader is left to sort it out.
Dennis Meier
Insightful, but the book is more a collection of vignettes than a the kind of comprehensive overview of a topic that a technically-inclined writer might produce. I am about 70 percent of the way finished and will call it good; I just don't see how the stories fit together.
Paul Cisneros
This book definitely changed my view about water management in the US. This country is facing great challenges, no much different from
countries in the Global South. This book is making me eager to learn it all about water in my city and to change my water-use pattern.
Martin Grayson
gave up.
Interesting but depressing. All water is lousy, bottled water even more lousy than tap because largely unregulated, it's not getting better and we're all doomed. Should have known . . . remember what W.C. Fields said about water.
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Alex Prud'homme is Julia Child's grandnephew. A freelance writer, his journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Time, and People. He is the author of My Life in France (with Julia Child) and The Cell Game and the co-author (with Michael Cherkasky) of Forewarned. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
More about Alex Prud'Homme...
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“Today's water arguments reflect a growing unease about how to proceed when old certainties are being pushed aside and new options seem limited or unappealing. But the stark warnings implicit in Wisconsin's poisoned wells, the intersex and dying fish of Chesapeake Bay, Lake Mead's recored-low waterline, the decay of levees across the country, and the resource war in Alaska's Bristol Bay, cannot be ignored.” 1 likes
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