Elizabeth Royte's Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It
is a balanced, nuanced, entertaining and vastly informative look at the crisis of water -- bottled and tap -- in the USA. Bottlemania asks the big questions about whether water ought to be privatized, takes a penetrating look at the fraught local politics that gives bottled water companies rights to extract a town's vital water and ship it elsewhere, and presents a compelling critique of the sustainability of letting the rich buy their way out of failures in public resources like water. She looks into the campaigns by water companies to "educate" restaurant servers about the fortunes in tips to be had by flattering their customers into buying bottled. The book also does a good job of discussing the amazing local water supplies that come out of the taps in many American cities, absolutely free.
At the same time, the book is not afraid to look at some of the serious problems facing municipal water supplies. The EPA have been negligent in setting and enforcing standards, little-understood bacterial films and hormones and pharmaceutical excretia present compelling health threats, as do arsenic and carcinogenic purification by-products. It's worse where cities don't own the land around their water-reservoirs, where agribusiness and other water users can add expensive- (or impossible-)to-remove toxins to the water.
Royte doesn't leave us with any easy answers, but she frames the debate we should be having about water, going into detail on the missing testing and enforcement regimes, the need to recycle more waste-water (water in New Orleans has already been filtered through 50% of the population in the USA!) and to internalize the environmental costs of private pumping aquifers.
Water wars have been with us for all of human history -- the word "rival" comes from a Latin word meaning "one who uses the same stream as another." But today's water wars have higher stakes than ever before: we're now fighting over a substantial fraction of all of Earth's freshwater. Bottlemania is a hell of a look into the future of that fight.
Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It
That point of light between Saturn’s rings is Earth, captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on April 12. More about the image here at NASA JPL. It reminds me of the last photo taken by the Voyager I spacecraft before engineers shut off its imaging systems. Carl Sagan had persuaded NASA to turn Voyager I’s cameras […]
As AI improves, the mystery of consciousness interests more programmers and physicists.
Most of us need a computer interface implanted in our brains like we need a hole in our head. That said, there are benefits to bridging the gap between mind and machine. Joel Murphy is the founder of OpenBCI, an inexpensive, and non-invasive, brain-computer interface (BCI) platform. People have used OpenBCI to control robots, compose […]
Even the most expensive pair of hi-fi headphones can’t match the feeling of bass rumbling through your body at a live show. That’s why music aficionados designed The Basslet, an accessory that reproduces that sensation from your wrist. Does it make your whole body shake with deep subs? Not really, because that would be terrifying, but […]
They probably just sleep a lot. But still, you can remotely keep an eye on them when you’re at work and missing them deeply with this HD monitor from Kodak.If you have a new puppy that destroys everything in sight, or you just want to be a little more security-conscious, this WiFi camera is a […]
Thinking of a business idea is the easy part. Doesn’t even have to be a “good” idea, you can still get people to throw money at a non-existent venture, but to do that you need to at least have something even resembling a viable business plan. Why doesn’t anyone do it then? Because building that semi-viable […]