An intelligent, elegant call to action in the defense of fresh water.



Porter (History/St. Edward’s Univ.) addresses the legal, social, economic and environmental consequences of our present water rights system, a serious disaster in the making.

Although the author focuses his investigation on the fresh water situation in Texas, his arguments are widely applicable. Simply put, there is a finite amount of fresh water on the planet, timelessly moving through the hydrologic cycle, which is too often being hogged by irrigators or befouled by one form of human use or another. Porter approaches the water issue from two angles: how to secure a sustainable water-use system and how water is going to impinge on the value of real estate. Each state has laws regarding who owns water: surface water, as in water moving through a course; diffused surface water, as in water that runs off a roof and over the ground in an undefined pattern; and aquifers and underground pools. But water is fugitive, always in motion and vexatious to lawmakers since it rarely stays still long enough to tag it with ownership rights. Porter ably describes the looming crisis. Without specific regional water plans—determining demand, supply, social and economic impacts, strategies and options to meet growing needs, and all the infrastructural requirements to maximize water use—shortages are a given. How are we going to balance common good with private right? Anyone upstream is at an advantage; anyone with a large-capacity pump can command a greater share of the aquifer. Without use laws in place, things will get nasty quickly. Porter has an easy, professorial voice, eschewing hysterics but providing a cautionary note that carries a weight of understanding and experience. He also gives advice about simple lifestyle changes to conserve water: from showering and brushing your teeth to dripping faucets and low-flow toilets, dishwashers and dishwashing detergent.

An intelligent, elegant call to action in the defense of fresh water.

Pub Date: May 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62349-137-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Texas A&M Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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