Rain: A Natural and Cultural History

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Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive.
 
It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.

Cynthia Barnett's Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains—with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster," Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it.
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About the author

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She is the author of two previous books, Mirage and Blue Revolution, a Boston Globe top 10 science book of 2011. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and children. Visit her website at cynthiabarnett.net.


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Additional Information

Publisher
Crown
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Published on
Apr 21, 2015
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780804137102
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Weather
Science / Earth Sciences / Meteorology & Climatology
Science / Natural History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"In the days before the Internet, books like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas' River of Grass were groundbreaking calls to action that made citizens and politicians take notice. Mirage is such a book." —St. Petersburg Times

“Never before has the case been more compellingly made that America’s dependence on a free and abundant water supply has become an illusion. Cynthia Barnett does it by telling us the stories of the amazing personalities behind our water wars, the stunning contradictions that allow the wettest state to have the most watered lawns, and the thorough research that makes her conclusions inescapable. Barnett has established herself as one of Florida’s best journalists and Mirage is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the state.”

—Mary Ellen Klas, Capital Bureau Chief, Miami Herald

“Mirage is the finest general study to date of the freshwater-supply crisis in Florida. Well-meaning villains abound in Cynthia Barnett’s story, but so too do heroes, such as Arthur R. Marshall Jr., Nathaniel Reed, and Marjorie Harris Carr. The author’s research is as thorough as her prose is graceful. Drinking water is the new oil. Get used to it.”

—Michael Gannon, Distinguished Professor of history, University of Florida, and author of Florida: A Short History

“With lively prose and a journalist’s eye for a good story, Cynthia Barnett offers a sobering account of water scarcity problems facing Florida—one of our wettest states—and the rest of the East Coast. Drawing on lessons learned from the American West, Mirage uses the lens of cultural attitudes about water use and misuse to plead for reform. Sure to engage and fascinate as it informs.”

—Robert Glennon, Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Arizona, and author of Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters

Part investigative journalism, part environmental history, Mirage reveals how the eastern half of the nation—historically so wet that early settlers predicted it would never even need irrigation—has squandered so much of its abundant freshwater that it now faces shortages and conflicts once unique to the arid West.

Florida’s parched swamps and supersized residential developments set the stage in the first book to call attention to the steady disappearance of freshwater in the American East, from water-diversion threats in the Great Lakes to tapped-out freshwater aquifers along the Atlantic seaboard.

Told through a colorful cast of characters including Walt Disney, Jeb Bush and Texas oilman Boone Pickens, Mirage ferries the reader through the key water-supply issues facing America and the globe: water wars, the politics of development, inequities in the price of water, the bottled-water industry, privatization, and new-water-supply schemes.

From its calamitous opening scene of a sinkhole swallowing a house in Florida to its concluding meditation on the relationship between water and the American character, Mirage is a compelling and timely portrait of the use and abuse of freshwater in an era of rapidly vanishing natural resources.

I wrote this book to inspire others like myself. I have been appointed to deliver such a book by doing the works of the master, telling everything of himself, I haven't written a book or novel nor children books. From the Psalm (poems) I wrote novel of poetry of everyday life. The poems are telling a story within itself. Some people don't recognize a God given talent until a wakeup call comes. I was one of those people, I wrote many poems as a youngster and in my teens. I cast them away in my closet shelf or trash them. My baby sister Alisa always told me I had a God given gift, my baby sister Alisa reminded me of a little bitty person with a old soul young but had insight like she been here before. She had been getting my poems off the shelves and making her boyfriend cards with them. He was thinking she was writing them, she told me again, you got to keep writing them because he liked them. I was shocked, but nevertheless I said ok to my baby sister, calling herself in love. And my milestone started that day. Who would want to listen to what I had to say. The answer came later on, who would listen other than my baby sister. The same people that went down the same path and has experienced spiritual struggles, racism and was a victim of rape, gang bangers, prisoners, addicts, childhood dreama of becoming or a sense of want to belong. This book is inspired for all generations as well as the young, past, present and future. A reflection of fathers leaving homes leaving mothers taking care of homes as single parents, not to mention separated, that lead to divorce. In each of our lives we all are searching for our own path. Through our experience we live and learn, either we make mistakes ourselves or wise up or simply learn from the mistakes and trials of others as well as self. Ive always felt that in the company of others, I find my heart to be captivated through anothers experience. Be it joy, pain, Hope or hardship. In my travels near or far in my hope of Mississippi or eve strange lands this defined me through and through. This when the journey began. We are one people, one love, one people with rainbow color of God. The color purple couldnt have said it any better coming from Whoppi Goldberg. She said I might be ugly, I might even be black, I might even been misunderstood, but thank God am STILL HERE Were just ordinary people, why one kill because of the color of our skin. I never understand that. There is a time and purpose of our being. Know that there is a GOD who hears and sees all GOD bless hope you enjoy.
I wrote this book to inspire others like myself. I have been appointed to deliver such a book by doing the works of the master, telling everything of himself, I haven't written a book or novel nor children books. From the Psalm (poems) I wrote novel of poetry of everyday life. The poems are telling a story within itself. Some people don't recognize a God given talent until a wakeup call comes. I was one of those people, I wrote many poems as a youngster and in my teens. I cast them away in my closet shelf or trash them. My baby sister Alisa always told me I had a God given gift, my baby sister Alisa reminded me of a little bitty person with a old soul young but had insight like she been here before. She had been getting my poems off the shelves and making her boyfriend cards with them. He was thinking she was writing them, she told me again, you got to keep writing them because he liked them. I was shocked, but nevertheless I said ok to my baby sister, calling herself in love. And my milestone started that day. Who would want to listen to what I had to say. The answer came later on, who would listen other than my baby sister. The same people that went down the same path and has experienced spiritual struggles, racism and was a victim of rape, gang bangers, prisoners, addicts, childhood dreama of becoming or a sense of want to belong. This book is inspired for all generations as well as the young, past, present and future. A reflection of fathers leaving homes leaving mothers taking care of homes as single parents, not to mention separated, that lead to divorce. In each of our lives we all are searching for our own path. Through our experience we live and learn, either we make mistakes ourselves or wise up or simply learn from the mistakes and trials of others as well as self. Ive always felt that in the company of others, I find my heart to be captivated through anothers experience. Be it joy, pain, Hope or hardship. In my travels near or far in my hope of Mississippi or eve strange lands this defined me through and through. This when the journey began. We are one people, one love, one people with rainbow color of God. The color purple couldnt have said it any better coming from Whoppi Goldberg. She said I might be ugly, I might even be black, I might even been misunderstood, but thank God am STILL HERE Were just ordinary people, why one kill because of the color of our skin. I never understand that. There is a time and purpose of our being. Know that there is a GOD who hears and sees all GOD bless hope you enjoy.
"In the days before the Internet, books like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas' River of Grass were groundbreaking calls to action that made citizens and politicians take notice. Mirage is such a book." —St. Petersburg Times

“Never before has the case been more compellingly made that America’s dependence on a free and abundant water supply has become an illusion. Cynthia Barnett does it by telling us the stories of the amazing personalities behind our water wars, the stunning contradictions that allow the wettest state to have the most watered lawns, and the thorough research that makes her conclusions inescapable. Barnett has established herself as one of Florida’s best journalists and Mirage is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the state.”

—Mary Ellen Klas, Capital Bureau Chief, Miami Herald

“Mirage is the finest general study to date of the freshwater-supply crisis in Florida. Well-meaning villains abound in Cynthia Barnett’s story, but so too do heroes, such as Arthur R. Marshall Jr., Nathaniel Reed, and Marjorie Harris Carr. The author’s research is as thorough as her prose is graceful. Drinking water is the new oil. Get used to it.”

—Michael Gannon, Distinguished Professor of history, University of Florida, and author of Florida: A Short History

“With lively prose and a journalist’s eye for a good story, Cynthia Barnett offers a sobering account of water scarcity problems facing Florida—one of our wettest states—and the rest of the East Coast. Drawing on lessons learned from the American West, Mirage uses the lens of cultural attitudes about water use and misuse to plead for reform. Sure to engage and fascinate as it informs.”

—Robert Glennon, Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Arizona, and author of Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters

Part investigative journalism, part environmental history, Mirage reveals how the eastern half of the nation—historically so wet that early settlers predicted it would never even need irrigation—has squandered so much of its abundant freshwater that it now faces shortages and conflicts once unique to the arid West.

Florida’s parched swamps and supersized residential developments set the stage in the first book to call attention to the steady disappearance of freshwater in the American East, from water-diversion threats in the Great Lakes to tapped-out freshwater aquifers along the Atlantic seaboard.

Told through a colorful cast of characters including Walt Disney, Jeb Bush and Texas oilman Boone Pickens, Mirage ferries the reader through the key water-supply issues facing America and the globe: water wars, the politics of development, inequities in the price of water, the bottled-water industry, privatization, and new-water-supply schemes.

From its calamitous opening scene of a sinkhole swallowing a house in Florida to its concluding meditation on the relationship between water and the American character, Mirage is a compelling and timely portrait of the use and abuse of freshwater in an era of rapidly vanishing natural resources.

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