It is no longer a secret for those exposed to the media that the world is in the midst of a global water crisis. Millions of people die every year from water shortages and water contamination, and millions more are subjected to an endless cycle of poverty driven by a need for water.
Author Charles Fishman asserts in his new book, “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” that water at the molecular level is never absolutely consumed, and that the answer to the water crisis is a matter of a shift in water consciousness.
Fishman explains water consciousness as a better understanding of the nature of water and how it is used now, as opposed to how it could be used in a more efficient and resourceful manner. He emphasizes how water use is only water borrowed, and that many answers lie in better planning and recycling.
He used the Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan as an example of conventional water “borrowing” that has resulted in tons of water being used, polluted and then dumped into the ocean. According to Fishman, it didn’t have to happen that way; that it was the result of not understanding the benefit – or the efficiency – in cleaning the water rather than allowing it to seep into the ocean.
The topic of water use in energy generation in the U.S. and around the world is a big topic for Fishman in “The Big Thirst.” He notes that while every American consumes an average of 99 gallons of water a day for personal uses like bathing, washing and cooking – a number often trumpeted by water conservation organizations – it’s more telling that an American uses 250 gallons of water a day to supply his or her electricity usage.
Even so, Fishman is quick to remind readers that America is in the midst of a water revolution, and that the country uses 15% less water than it did in 1980, despite a $7 trillion increase in GDP and a jump in population of 70 million.
His thesis turns upon the argument that the answers are out there, but that it will take this revolution and more to address global water needs in the future.