**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the wor...more**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the world, different cities, and in difference situations. Overall, he argues that our water supply is in such danger in so many places because people take water for granted. They don’t even think about it despite it being one of our most basic needs. This leads us to waste it, mismanage it, and fail to put resources into maintaining our water supply for the future. Only once crisis hits to we finally start to pay attention to how we use water and where it comes from.
***Chapter topics: In “Dolphins in the Desert”, Fishman covers the evolution of water policy in Las Vegas. Despite being in the middle of the desert and full of water extravagance, it has developed some of the most sophisticated water reusing systems in the world. - In “Water Under Water”, Fishman explains the complexity of making water supplies disaster proof as he profiles Galveston, TX, after Hurricane Ike. - In “The Money in the Pipes” he profiles several large companies that are at the forefront of water conservation and reuse because they use it in such a large scale. – In “The Yuck Factor” he profiles how important changing attitudes toward water can be when trying to implement new water reuse methods. One city in Australia nearly ran out of water because its citizens couldn’t accept the idea of reusing treated sewer water. – In “Who Stopped the Rain” he talks about Australia, which has been going through a great drought in the last decade or so. This has precipitated several water crises from farming to urban supply. The primary problem is overuse of its rivers and planning based on high-water years instead of the contemporary average. – In “Where Water is Worshipped, but Gets no Respect” he talks about India and how atrocious their water situation is for nearly everyone, rich and poor. Very few cities have 24/7 water supplies, even for well-off people, and the majority of the country suffers from huge productivity and education losses because so much time is spent hand-carrying water for daily needs. He also goes into the major health problems that result from contaminated water and ink-black rivers. E.g., There is so much dangerous bacteria and pollution that one eye-dropper of water from the Yamuna or Ganges River put into six bathtubs full of water would be enough to make it unsafe to sit in. – In “It’s Water. Of Course It’s Free” he summarizes the problem with most attitudes toward water. Unless we start to recognize it as a real resource that requires respect and serious attention, we will continue to stumble into major shortages and conflicts over water. Water is not a global problem in the sense that you can influence water problems across the world, but it is the combination of a million different local problems regarding water that makes it a global concern.
***The 300,000 gallons of water used during a space shuttle launch is not for cooling, but for sound dampening. Otherwise the sound shock waves would tear the shuttle apart.
***The biggest use of water in the home is toilet flushing. We flush on average around 5 times a day which is about 18.5 gallons
***The fundamental problem with water is that it cannot be used up, but it is not equally available in all locations. How and where it is available in usable form varies dramatically and can be very unpredictable. So what this means is that all water problems are local in the sense that saving water in your home isn't going to directly help water-started villages in India. This is very different from many other environmental issues, like carbon footprints or gasoline use.
***Patricia Mulroy (the Las Vegas water czar) suggested to Obama a huge public works program to create a series of canals to capture and divert Mississippi floodwaters so it would both reduce natural disasters and send excess water to places that need it.
***At IBM Burlington, they create what is known as "ultra-pure water" which is hundreds of times cleaner than distilled or purified water. They use complex filtration systems to remove every molecule from water so that the pure water can pull microscopic particles from microchips. The smaller the chip, the more pure the water must be. It is very expensive to create, and in fact, would be dangerous to drink in large quantities. Water is such a good solvent, its molecules are filled with all kinds of minerals, etc. If you remove the minerals, etc. it will try to pull molecules out of anything it comes in contact with, including the nutrients in our body.
***Celebrity Cruise ships have a huge ice expense to create enough ice to cool all of the food/beverages on a typical cruise. One way they have reduced the cost is to no longer use ice, but to cool rocks that retain temperature well enough to cool the food.
***The author details an economic model for water designed by Mike Young to better allocate water resources. In the shape of a water glass, each layer of water is designated for a particular purpose. The first layer is “maintenance water” that is just enough necessary to maintain the environmental system. This is already a problem in many rivers where dams have to be built to keep ocean water from heading back up dry river beds. The second layer of water is “critical human needs” such as drinking, bathing, and basic water services. These two layers are guaranteed, but the next two layers are determined by economics. The first is the high security layer, which demands a high premium cost, and the second is low security, which costs less. Then it becomes a risk calculation process about how much you want to invest in water and whether you want to take the risk that your water layer might run out. If water runs low, the low security customers lose it first, then high security. (less)
This is a great book, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want a healthy dose of cynicism added to your literary diet. Every single one of the exam...moreThis is a great book, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want a healthy dose of cynicism added to your literary diet. Every single one of the examples Johnston discusses makes you realize that the "haves" in our society often do not get ahead by being better capitalists, but rather by being masters of manipulating our (taxpayer) money. I think the most positive message this book has to offer is that opponents of free trade and capitalism as a system are often completely groundless in their attacks; it's not pure capitalism that leads to inequality and ridiculously large gaps between the rich and poor, it's the perversion of capitalism by those with extreme wealth. The author's liberal use of Adam Smith's own words and writings bring this point home several times. Most of the abuses we face today (e.g., corporate subsidies) all existed in Smith's day, albeit on a much smaller scale. Although the stories Johnston shares are infuriating in the extreme, the unfairness and corruption he uncovers serves as a meaningful call to action for every taxpayer (and voter) in our country. Definitely worth handing out to all of your conservative and liberal friends. (less)
This book served as an excellent contrast to Niall Ferguson's book "Colossus". Bacevich points out the dangers of overextending the U.S. on the global...moreThis book served as an excellent contrast to Niall Ferguson's book "Colossus". Bacevich points out the dangers of overextending the U.S. on the global stage in much the same way that Ferguson argues for the under-utilization of U.S. political influence. I thought Bacevich was a bit overly bleak on some fronts, but overall his analysis was compelling, especially given the current global economic transformation. It is unlikely that the U.S. will ever have the kind of economic pre-eminence it has enjoyed in the last few decades, so trying to maintain that status through military channels is going to become even more futile with each passing year. Overall a great book, and his point about war being inherently and eternally messy no matter how smart of bombs we create is especially timeless. (less)
This is an interesting book that I would recommend to certain others. Although I imagine this book has considerably fewer male readers than female one...moreThis is an interesting book that I would recommend to certain others. Although I imagine this book has considerably fewer male readers than female ones, I think that is unfortunate. This book is especially useful for any male that wants to understand why modern motherhood is characterized by so much anxiety. Warner does a good job of communicating the exasperating aspects of American cultural expectations on motherhood, but I found the historical path of feminism she traces from the 1950's through the present to be the most interesting part of the book. The book did seem a bit disorganized at times (which, since the author is a mother, is probably just more evidence for her overall thesis), but I would still recommend it to others particularly interested in these issuess.(less)
I've been reading way too many books related to applications of social psychology lately, so this review might be somewhat biased, but I was somewhat...moreI've been reading way too many books related to applications of social psychology lately, so this review might be somewhat biased, but I was somewhat disappointed with the depth of analysis the authors provided. Specifically, much of the research they covered appeared highly similar to many other recent books on effective use of psychological principles to produce social change. Many of the judgmental biases they point out have been highlighted in several books published in the last three years. The primary distinction of this book really seems to be its political bent with specific recommendations for public policy on a number of issues. "Libertarian paternalism" is an interesting idea, and much more palatable with the empirical base the authors put forth compared to many of the unintended paternalistic consequences of current government policies. I would recommend this book to people interested in psychology, politics, and public policy, but who haven't read a broad swath of recent books on judgmental biases written by economists, psychologists, and journalists. Incidentally, one bias they forgot to cover was the tendency of "humans" to believe that they alone are actually an "econ" in a world of irrational people. (less)
As a social psychologist, I will always be biased towards books by social psychologists, but I would have to say that this book does an exceptional jo...moreAs a social psychologist, I will always be biased towards books by social psychologists, but I would have to say that this book does an exceptional job at covering a specific psychological theory and applying it to the problems of the world we live in. Of course my particular opinions differ from the authors considerably in some areas, but I still think this text is an important thought experiment for everyone to take. Just the sheer act of trying to see the world populated by individuals, no matter what the background, looking for meaning and purpose in life, would go a long way in teaching the important of tolerance and understanding of others. It somewhat surprisingly goes into more depth into politics than I would have guessed, but counters the speculative parts with a significant amount of space on the empirical support for the theory. I’ll be using it as a text in my upcoming class so I may revise this review once I see how my students react to it. (less)
My rating averages out to 3 stars, but just barely. Most of this book fits into the 2-star category with just enough of it being 4-star material to bu...moreMy rating averages out to 3 stars, but just barely. Most of this book fits into the 2-star category with just enough of it being 4-star material to bump it up a bit. The primary reason for my struggle with this book is its ridiculous length. It covers a variety of topics and political events that are just too much to fit into a single text. The level of detail for both the Stanford Prison Experiment and Zimbardo’s involvement in the Abu Ghraib is extreme. The two chapters that address conformity, obedience, deindividuation, dehumanization, etc., on the other hand, are incredibly useful and interesting. I would recommend this entire book to individuals looking for a detailed psychological explanation of the prison abuses in Iraq and how it relates to the Stanford Prison experiment, but for everyone else out there, I would recommend sticking to chapters 12 and 13 and just skimming the rest. (less)
This is yet another wonderful book written by social psychologists, although it is probably unlikely to make the New York Times best seller list for a...moreThis is yet another wonderful book written by social psychologists, although it is probably unlikely to make the New York Times best seller list for a couple of reasons. First, this book ranks right up there with Jimmy Carter’s famed “Great Malaise” speech that pointed an accusing finger at the American people for all of their problems. No one wants to know that WE are the cause of the problem, just like no one really wants to know that I made a mistake, not someone else. This book is about cognitive dissonance and the power of rationalization in many domains of life. The problem with this topic (as I have found after many quarters of teaching it to college students), is that even after learning the concept, literally no one likes to think that they actually engage in these mental gymnastics. Biases in perception, even the automatic activation of stereotypes are easier to get people to believe than trying to show them how every decision or experience we have is colored by the process of making ourselves appear consistent. In reality, we are all highly hypocritical in countless ways, but as the authors show over and over again, this is much easier to detect in others than in ourselves. Only suggestion I would make is to try to use more examples from across the political spectrum to arrest any rationalization ammo for critics of the book. Would recommend to everyone (along with Aronson’s other books). (less)
Although not for everyone, I find Colbert's brand of humor quite entertaining. The problem with this book for me was that I'm used to hearing Colbert'...moreAlthough not for everyone, I find Colbert's brand of humor quite entertaining. The problem with this book for me was that I'm used to hearing Colbert's routine in short bits instead of a continuous narrative. I'm guessing this book is much better suited for the audio book format, although I'm not really sure how he would relate the comedy of the side and footnotes (which really make the book). Overall a good read, although not quite as good as the first Stewart "America" book. (less)