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When I first decided to get the book, the reviews and briefs had focused my attention on Water availability and shortages. Only after getting into the book did I realize how crucial is the information it provides in TWO OTHER critical areas: Climate change; and Agricultural Sustainability - for the “Developing World” AND the “Developed” world.
The material in this book is VERY important, as the material recently in “the general press” about problems in those three (3) areas seems totally unaware of and MIS-directed in it's ‘technical approach’ to some of the most important background …in all three areas, and especially the interrelationships between factors in each area !!
Ms. Schwartz makes a very interesting – and challenging – statement, to the effect that our world has never contained more, or less, water than it does at present. The “problems” we are having are because of LACK OF understanding, or major misunderstanding, about water's relationship with our soils …and especially how our recent “industrial agricultural” approaches jeopardize both our water supplies and our food sustainability, as well as our climate.
I truly believe that the problems in these areas WILL NOT be solved unless many more people become informed, and understand the material this book provides.
And yet it’s not some long, burdensome tome ...only 224 pages, and readily understandable. I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about any or all of those three (3) issues above.
Judith's work in her new book, Water In Plain Sight - Hope For A Thirsty Planet, and her previous book, Cows Save The Planet, bring us a huge message of hope as we are faced with climate change, drought, floods, wildfire, food insecurity and poor nutrition.
Judith talks about how we are used to thinking about drought as a lack of rainfall, but we ignore the effects of land and soil degradation on the soil’s ability to hold onto rainfall. When we talk about climate change we focus on greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane, but water has the bigger ability to absorb heat. When we start to investigate the water cycle, we quickly become aware of how inextricably linked this is with the carbon cycle.
Our standard agricultural practices, involving tilling the land, planting single species in huge fields and adding artificial chemical fertilizers, release the carbon from the soil, leaving it to hang out in our atmosphere, adding to the problems of climate change. In destroying the soil's structure, they destroy the amazing ecosystem that works to support plants, to hold carbon in the soil and to create healthy, nutrient dense food crops.
In the book, Judith visits with people all over the world and tells us how each of them are changing the way they interact with the land to increase the carbon content of the soil. In doing so, they increase the water holding capacity of the soil, they grow plants that are more robust and nourishing, and those plants in turn create a cooler environment that is not only more comfortable to live in, they deter wildfire, attract more rain, creating this virtuous cycle that gives us refreshing hope in this war against climate change.
Freakin' Phenomenal. Another great one by Schwartz. Hungry for more after reading Cows Save the Planet, this book delivers an enormous amount of new information. Many of the books I read on these types of subjects seem repetitive and have little new to offer. Schwartz's book hammers home a new and original message, when we think about climate change we must think beyond carbon emissions, beyond industry, agriculture, and automobiles. We must step back and look at things holistically, we must rethink how we manage our grasslands, forests, and water resources. And she does this with detail, evidence, and good story telling. This book is a much needed aid in a time where we spend more time criticizing others for how they think of climate change than understanding it ourselves.
What a wonderful book. Fresh water is becoming a more and more important commodity. Having enough is going to be crucial for us to get through the next century intact. And the author makes the point that, as she says, "When soil is left bare, water evaporates, carbon oxidizes and microorganisms die. The ground becomes a hot plate and can no longer sustain life. Water runs off the land instead of sinking into it."
That's the key. We've been focusing on the wrong things. If we want more fresh water, the place to focus is on healthy soil.
One more quote from the book: "As in the African bush and on and around North America’s industrial farms, all around the world we have problems with water: water shortages and runoff and floods. But maybe we can reframe our challenge as having a keeping-water-in-the-ground problem. For this is certainly a problem we can do something about. What we need to do is promote land management practices that enhance a part of our water infrastructure that we’ve been treating like dirt: the ground."
Water is essential to life and human communities, yet our species exercises little wisdom in managing this critical resource. Judith Schwartz describes the many ways in which water flows through our planet and the many ways people all over the world are learning and practicing better water management practices, from slowing the flow of water, to reintroducing beavers, capturing rainwater, dew, and condensation, or enriching soil biology and introducing regenerative grazing to improve water retention. This book puts climate change in a larger perspective in which fossil fuel emissions are only a piece. Human activity, incomplete understanding of complex systems, and lack of management of natural resources have created a serious unbalance in water cycle and soil biology. This means that a better understanding of the role of biology in regulating carbon and water cycles and a broader implementation of practices that "work with nature" to restore natural balance can make a huge different in our future. The empowering insight of this book is that many of these practices can be implemented locally and don't solely rely on the action of government and powerful economic forces.
This is possibly the most important book you could read. The author focuses attention on water and the hydrological cycle and its role in mitigating climate change. She quotes Walter Jehne who states that the water cycle drives 94% of heat dynamics of the planet, whereas carbon dioxide drives 4%. If you have children or grandchildren or you think he might have them one day please read this book.
A real eye-opener! Timely information regarding individuals and organizations who have restored ecosystems and water cycles. They have demonstrated and proven that global warming and climate change can be reversed. People, individually and collectively, can do this without government support.More governments will become supportive as more and more degraded and desertified areas are recovered for the benefit of the local populations and the world.
Very insightful look at how we can use and conserve water by using Mother Nature. Must read for everyone as water becomes scarcer and simple ways to have water available through plants and common sense.
Another great job by Judith Schwartz. It's refreshing to read an environmental book that focuses on something other than CO2. The effects of water on weather are complicated but important. She is a skilled writer.