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“Journalist Barnett explores a simple solution to the growing water crisis in the US, where we use more water than any other culture in the world. That solution: a water ethic. She notes that the green movement has helped raise awareness of the importance of energy and sustainability, and that a blue movement would do much the same: help Americans rediscover their relationship with water, and learn to conserve/recycle and manage it more effectively. And, she adds, it is entirely possible to reverse the damage done by the indiscriminate use of water through those measures and new technologies that can cut agricultural irrigation in half.”—Book News Inc.
“It's a call to action. Barnett takes us back to the origins of our water in much the same way, with much the same vividness and compassion as Michael Pollan led us from our kitchens to potato fields and feed lots of modern agribusiness.”—Los Angeles Times
“Barnett does not come off as a Cassandra, shrieking about looming cataclysm and dumping figures over her readers’ heads. In Blue Revolution she is part journalist, part mom, part historian, and part optimist, and as a result her text comes off as anything but a polemic.”—The Boston Globe
“Our future depends on the Blue Revolution that Cynthia Barnett advocates, for, as the ancients knew long before modern science did, 'Water is life.'”—New York Journal of Books
“Thorough and packed with data.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Barnett’s clarion call to her fellow citizens imagines an America where it’s ethically wrong to waste water. Using compelling stories from around the globe, she shows that America’s future depends upon our coming to value water – not only in the price we pay, but with profound appreciation for each drop.”—Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It
“The roots of a new water ethic are found in the practices of millions of individuals, businesses, and other organizations around the world. Barnett shows how good water use practices can go viral, with massive benefits for society and nature. Blue Revolution offers affordable, practical, down-to-earth solutions for America’s water crisis.”—Stephen R. Carpenter, Director of the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Winner of the 2011 Stockholm Water Prize
“The book provides an eye-opening overview of the complexity of our water-use problems and offers optimistic but practical solutions.”—Publishers Weekly
“As Aldo Leopold is to the land ethic, Cynthia Barnett is to the water ethic. Her important and hopeful new book is rich with stories about innovative water projects around the world, demonstrating that we can choose thrift over waste, water gardens over cement ditches, local projects over mega-industries, smart over incredibly, stubbornly, self-destructively stupid. She calls us to a respectful water use that restores our spirits, even as it creates thriving biocultural communities. If you use water, you should read Blue Revolution.”—Kathleen Dean Moore, coeditor of Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril
“Aldo Leopold helped found twentieth-century American environmental thinking with his call for a land ethic. Barnett has done a great service by calling for a twenty-first-century water ethic. She tackles America’s illusion of water abundance in the way past thinkers attacked our old ideas about an endless western frontier. Of the new crop of books on water, this one may be the most important.”—Fred Pearce, author of When the Rivers Run Dry
Water, water everywhere. Or not.
"Somehow, America's green craze has missed the blue," writes environmental journalist Barnett (Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., 2007). A good citizen of Sacramento wouldn't dream of throwing a plastic bottle in the trash, and yet, California's capital, which calls itself "Sustainable Sacramento," uses 300 gallons of water per person per day, 8.5 times the consumption of watery Holland, and about four times the consumption of similarly dry Perth, Australia. Small wonder that reservoirs such as Lake Mead, on which Las Vegas depends, are rapidly being drawn down to the sand—though, admittedly, drought and climate change have as much to do with it as careless drinkers. The problem is endemic, writes the author. It's not just the arid West that is suffering, since even moist places such as Florida are rapidly using up their groundwater supplies. As with so much else, it all comes down to human actions: Conserving water and changing how we manage it would do a great deal to relieve the ever-accelerating crisis. Yet "using water ethically" in this way, as she puts it, faces formidable challenges, among them the "water-industrial complex" and its powerful lobby, aimed at preserving the huge profits that come with the control of one of the few things that humans actually need to live. Other enemies of progress, writes Barnett, are the squabbles over water fought by "lawyers billing by the hour rather than by communities drawn together in a shared ethic"; agricultural subsidies seemingly designed to encourage major users of water to be profligate; and politicians who resist the notion that Americans should have to curb their appetites at all. The subject is ripe for moralizing, but Barnett generally keeps the conversation at a practical level, noting, helpfully, that no American set out deliberately to exhaust the nation's water supply any more than the Soviets "set out to create the disaster of the Aral Sea."
Thorough and packed with data but a touch dry. General readers will find much of the same information in Brian Fagan's more engaging bookElixir (2011).