Fresh water will be the defining resource of the 21st Century.
Experts call it “the next oil,” and predict water will be the focus of increased tension and great innovation in coming decades. In response, I set out in 2007 to discover how people across the U.S. and around the world are using and abusing water today – and how they are preparing for what the UN has deemed “the looming water crisis.”
Consider these two scenarios: (1) Warned of an impending terrorist attack, Americans endure disruptive security measures or simply stay home and hide. By day’s end, it doesn’t matter: A plane carrying a dirty bomb has crashed in Los Angeles, killing tens of thousands of people; (2) After an alert, Americans face strict yet sensible and efficient security, before a suspect is arrested and an attack averted.
In 2001 ImClone Systems appeared unstoppable: in May, the company announced stunning results for its “revolutionary” drug; in June, Erbitux was put on a fast-track status by the FDA; and in September, Bristol-Myers Squibb signed an unprecedented $2 billion deal for Erbitux. As ImClone’s fortunes rose, so did Sam Waksal’s. Like a latter-day Jay Gatsby, Waksal had willed himself from humble Midwestern roots into the upper reaches of New York society. The son of Holocaust survivors, he befriended Martha Stewart, dated her daughter Alexis, hosted parties in his SoHo loft featuring Mick Jagger, bought noted paintings from A-list art dealer Larry Gagosian, and had Carl Icahn as a tennis partner and financial backer.
I became a writer the old-fashioned way. In 1985, I embarked on a three month trip to India and Nepal; when I returned to the US, I intended to apply to architecture school, or maybe law school. Only, I didn’t return. My three-month trip extended into a two year journey that took me around the world. Working as a fisherman in Australia, an English teacher and actor in Japan, and as a janitor in Paris, I wrote in journals as I went. It was this experience of talking to a wide range of people and recording my observations on a daily basis that led me to pursue a writing career once I returned to the States.
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For THE RIPPLE EFFECT: The Fate of Freshwater in the 21st Century
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