The Big Thirst
The book, The Big Thirst, by Charles Fishman is a novel examines the importance of water to human beings, as well as, the various ways in which humanity has taken water for granted. Accordingly, the book presents a study of the complex relationship between man and water: how humanity desires and enjoys water, but at the same time undervalues it. The author also examines the availability and scarcity of water in various regions and how this has impacted human life in general. In essence, the book is presents a collection of stories, both big and small about water, with the author providing a number of statistics in support of his hypothesis. According to the author, water is vital for human life and he uses this book as a platform for elucidating the significance of water for humanity.
The author begins by explaining the renewable nature of water as a resource. Fishman explains that water is one of the few resources that cannot be used up hence extinction. He states that, as a resource, water can be used and reused as many times as people require the resource in their lives. Sequentially, the author argues that dinosaurs, as well as, those who lived in ancient times drank the same water that we are drinking today. The author, further, explains the mystery of water by examining various aspects of water both in and outside planet earth. Fishman explains that even with all these mystery, human beings have failed in their ability to give worth to this water. The author argues that humanity constantly undervalues water, and complains about paying the water bill with minimal consideration of its significance. He claims that society today does not enjoy water in its natural form, and instead, prefers to use water when in its aberrant form such as drinking bottled water instead of the natural tap water.
According to Fishman, humanity considers water that has been modified as being the best for consumption when in reality it could be toxic to man. The author highlights various places where water exists in its unnatural form such as Australian rice farms, Las Vegas hotels, as well as, the IBM plant that produces pure water for use by consumers. He uses this examples as a way of illustrating the level to which humanity has reached today with regards to the consumption of unnatural water that may be deleterious to man. According to Fishman, man has failed to utilize his water smartly, and for that reason has endured suffering for his inability to use water wisely. He gives the example of Australia, California and Atlanta by mentioning how these three states almost ran out of water as a result if their inability to conserve and use their water wisely. He states that if the citizens in these states had been able to use their water smartly, they would not have to reinvent their water systems and spend so much during this reinvention. The author is quick to mention that even with the examples given, the possibility of experiencing a global water crisis is near impossible. This is because water is in full supply and nations can use this water as much as they wish.
However, he cautiously states that human beings need to learn how to use their water with intelligence if they are to avoid the possibility of water shortages. Accordingly, the author argues for water consciousness throughout the book, he employs his readers to give the same amount of thought they give to food and the environment to water. He states that if people can fight for the conservation of the environment, then it beats logic for the same people to assume the conservation of water. However, the author acknowledges that creating water consciousness is a hard task because of the light-hearted attitudes that people have about water. As an example, he highlights the way, on average, an American flushes the toilet five times a day, which is equal to about 18 gallons of water. If this is calculated well, it would mean that on average, over 5 billion gallons of water flushed down the toilet everyday in America.
According to Fishman, the most fascinating thing about all this is the fact that the flushed water is clean and could be used for drinking. The author uses this piece of information to illustrate the way through which humanity has taken water fpor granted. He urges individuals to be more careful in the way they use their water because there are an equal number of people who lack access to this water. However, the author is quick to explain that the issue of water conservation is not similar to that of environmental conservation or other things. He explains that while environmental issues can be solved by different people from different locations water issues are distinct to a particular location and can only be solved by those living in that location. Put simply, the water problems in one location cannot be solved by water conservation in another. Therefore, if communities want to avoid experiencing water problems, they should conserve their water in their own homes. Conversely, the author goes on to explain that this is no excuse for people not to care about water consumption in their areas or not to engage in water conservation activities.
He especially directs his sentiments to those living in areas where there are extreme water shortages such as those in the drought stricken areas. Fishman explains that those living in such areas are responsible for all their water conservation activities. He argues that if they do not find ways to conserve the little water they have, they will be in big trouble, as no one will come to their rescue. He states that though these water problems may be natural, it is the responsibility of those living in these areas to come up with solutions to these problems. The author states that only through such actions can communities rid themselves of any water related problems.
Back on the issue of encouraging water consumption in countries that do not suffer from water shortages, Fishman proposes a solution to the reckless consumption and wastage of water.
Fishman believes that the best means for the creation of water consciousness in a population that is highly, unconscious about their water usage, is putting a price on water. He states that water conservation methods such as rationing only decrease the consumption of water, when instead what is needed is water conservation. Accordingly, Fishman explains that putting a price on water will not only reduce unequal distribution of water, it will also minimize misuse and waste of water.